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Evelyn Hart & Friends

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Last week attended a performance in Ottawa Canada, with Evelyn Hart, Principal with RWB and "friends", who included Rex Harrington of NBC, Arionel Vargas, RWB and vocalist, Anne Mortifee.

It was a mixed bill of song, orchestra and dance. The National Arts Centre orchestra was on stage for the evening with the dance happening in front of the musicians. I found this staging unsettling at first, as I am used to watching dance in front of a set or on an empty stage. Ms. Hart did comment in a newspaper article that she loved having the musicians on stage as she felt completely surrounded by the music. As the evening progessed, my initial feelings abated somewhat as I became lost in the dance.

I won't comment on the vocalist - not my style. Hart and Vargas performed the "White Swan" pas de deux first - she is ethereal with her upper body, so lyrical, so beautiful, but so, so thin. I find that her skinny, knobby knees really do take away something from her classical line. Vargas partnered well and showed her off brilliantly. He is Cuban trained and possesses a clean technique, with fearless jumps and turns. I still find him a bit remote, good technician, but lacking in emotion in this piece - mind you, he didn't really have much to do.

The second piece was from "Lady of the Camellias", Act I, "The Romance", music by Chopin. Hart dances the part of a courtesan who spurns the advances of her escort, danced by Harrington. Harrington is still amazing and is the most effortless, attentive partner. He never seems to get "set" for any lift or any turn, one move flows into the other. He and Hart, both in their 40's, brought a wonderful sense of longing and tenderness to this dance - it is no wonder that she calls him her "soul mate".

My favourite piece of the evening was "Belong" the pas de deux from "What to do Till the Messiah Comes" by Norbert Versak. "Belong" was awarded a gold medal in Varna in 1980 for dancer, choreography and pianist. It was definitely the most powerful, evocative work of the evening. The dancers, dressed in pale purple unitards, started face down on the floor and worked themselves up with entertwined limbs and arms, then fluid lifts. Both Hart and Vargas were sensual creatures, sliding along each other on the floor at one point, joining together, then splitting apart. This theme of togetherness, then solitude, was underscored by the fluid, expressive and often unexpected steps of the dancers. This piece left me breathless and wanting more.

Hart finished with "The Dying Swan" - I found myself still tied up in "Belong" to probably properly appreciate her performance.

All in all, it was a great evening, especially to see Harrington dance in his last season before retirement.


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Thanks for the report dancemomCA! It sounds like it was a wonderful evening!

I saw Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington dance together in the fall at the National Ballet. It was a pdd from "Gazebo Dances" (Kudelka). I wasn't crazy about the choreography, but they were stunning together. I'm sure their "Lady of the Camellias" was beautiful. But yes, I also noticed she has become very thin. I don't find it as distracting as her pointe shoes though. They look like they are very wide in the box, and narrow in the heel. Sometimes it looks like the shank is completely broken. Of course, I can never be really distracted. She is captivating in whatever she dances and I hope we see her in Toronto again soon. I would *love* to see her Dying Swan.

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Paquita - with regards to Hart's wide box on her pointe shoes - my son informed me that she has huge bunions which has made her feet mishapen. Her feet do look very boxy - not the usual tapered look of most dancers. Her "dying swan" was quite amazing - her ability to finely and minutely control her arms and upper body is a continuous source of wonder to me. She literally took on this birdlike persona - it gave me shivers!!

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