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Farrell Fan

Ballet Builders 2003

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This was the 13th annual "Ballet Builders" program put on by an organization called New Choreographers on Point. I've gone for the last four or five years, and this year saw the Feb.22 performance at Florence Gould Hall. In the past, there'd been a sprinkling of NYCB corps members and SAB students among the dancers, and even choreographers (Ryan Kelly). This time, the connection was with Rochester City Ballet. The piece called "Push & Pull," by that company's assistant artistic director, Jamey Leverett, to music of Astor Piazzolla, brought the first half of the program to a rousing conclusion. It was danced by twelve members of Rochester City Ballet, of whom a little dynamo named Jim Kowakowski was the clear audience favorite.

There were seven short ballets in all, and in the first and last of them, despite the name of the organization, the women did not wear pointe shoes. For me, the unseen presence of the evening was Paul Taylor. The first work, to Bach, was obviously modeled on Taylor's "pure dance" pieces. The choreographer was Andreas Bjorneboe. Another of the evening's choreographers, Ted Thomas, is a former Taylor dancer. He and Frances Ortiz choreographed a pas de deux to the song "Good Morning, Heartache," sung by Ella Fitzgerald. I am passionately devoted to Ella, but the definitive recording of "Good Morning, Heartache" is by Billie Holliday. And the song lyrics would seem to dictate a solo. But I suppose it's possible to see the male dancer as the "heartache." It was danced by Alicia Graf and William Isaac. They were terrific -- but so were all the dancers.

The last item, "Coeur de Basque," for seven dancers, drew almost as many audience whoops and hollers as "Push & Pull." I don't mean to slight the other works, "Suite," "Chamber," and "Facet." They were thoroughly enjoyable and professional, and the dancers looked good in them. But I do think the new choreographers need a lot of help with titles.

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Farrell Fan, this sounds as though it was an interesting performance - too bad I missed it! I wondered if there was any mention in the program notes about Timothy Draper's (as in the Rochester Ballet) tragic and sudden death? Don't mean to cast a shadow over your review. Next year I hope to be more aware and attend.

It's hard to believe that not even one other alertnik attended. :eek: :)

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Hi, BW -- The program notes consisted of short bios of the choreographers and the dancers. It was only by reading them that the Rochester connection was revealed. The sole mention of Mr. Draper's name was in Jamey Leverett's bio: "Ms. Leverett is currently assistant artistic director of the Draper Center for Dance Education and teaches master classes throughout the United States."

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Thank you for the information, Farrell Fan.

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