.....Opening up was the North Carolina Dance Theatre, performing a piece titled Rhapsodic Dances ..... I'll let Natalia fill in the details. The dancers seemed a little mechanical, which was about the only thing that kept this one from really taking off.
Thanks for getting the ball rolling on this one, YOT. We're mostly in agreement, yet again. I'm preparing for a biz trip so, alas, won't have many details but I'll try to offer quick general thoughts on each work.
Before the evening began, I was most looking forward to North Carolina Dance Theatre's Rhapsodic Dances
by Sasha Janes, as early publicity shots showed that this would be a neoclassical 'tutus and tiaras' piece. It was indeed the most traditional work of the night, mostly-well performed by the five couples, each garbed in a different bright color, with lovely lighting effects and about 20 luxurious-looking brass chandeliers overhead. Yes, some of the moves seemed mechanically quirky, such as the 'booty shimmy' by the five gals with the backs turned to us. (Imagine a 'booty shimmy' in a tutu!) Nonetheless it was mainly traditional classical ballet...well, except for 'the big rip.'
To explain my one major qualm with the piece: Everything was going along splendidly in a serious neoclassical manner. For example, the famous adagio theme that all of us know from Rach's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
was gorgeously delivered by the stately couple in Violet, Sarah Hayes Watson and David Morse. The Cobalt Blue pair, Anna Gerberich and Pete Walker II, showed-off their crisp allegro technique to an earlier brisk variation. Then the lights dimmed and the Crimson Red Girl (Jamie Dee) took center stage, a single spotlight on her, and....we hear the sound of peeling velcro...and - presto! - she rips the tutu off her bodice, revealing the neoclassical costume of Balanchine's Rubies
soloist (with rectangular-panel petals)! [size=2]There was embarrasing, inadvertent chuckling among the audience in 2nd Tier - not sure if this was the case elsewhere[/size]. After a few solo moves using the tutu skirt as a fan (a-la Sally Rand years ago), the Red Man moved towards her and sweeps her off her feet, the tutu falling to the ground. It was odd. For the final variations, the rest of the ladies also discarded their tutus (thankfully, backstage).
It's a shame that the tutu-ripping "Sally Rand Fan Dance" portion took away from what would have been a perfect little neoclassical ballet. Nonetheless, I am grateful that a few choreographers today still pay attention to tutus-and-tiaras, so I'm more than willing to declare Sasha Janes a 'choreographer to watch' in the future. Ballet Austin's Hush
(by A.D. Stephen Mills, to Philip Glass' Tirol Concerto
): I'm in total agreement with YOT here. Hush
was, to me, an unexpected surprise of the run. All of the elements of production - hauntingly romantic-soft music, costumes (lovely blue chiffon 'Allegro Brillante-style' shifts for the ladies and blue tights for men), flowing movements perfectly aligned to the music, eight extraordinarily pliant and musical dancers. This ballet's 'look,' composition, style reminded me a lot of Antony Tudor's Continuo
, even though the music of the latter is Pachelbel's Canon: six or eight similarly-garbed couples, each pdd melting into the next. Fluid beauty. I definitely want to see more of Stephen Mills' choreography after this! Dance Theater of Harlem's Return
(by Robert Garland, to five famous swing/pop tunes by James Brown and Aretha Franklin) was another huge surprise for me. The twelve beautiful dancers drove the KC audience to a feever-pitched frenzy. A tour group of Chinese citizens, for example, sitting directly in front of us in Row A, stood up and clapped-and-jumped in time to the final piece of music, Brown's song Superbad
. DTH's male soloist in this movement, Da'Von Doane, was fantastic...but it's that line of happy Chinese tourists that I'll forever remember about this piece.