Here is my attempt:
The first program I saw opened with Scotch Symphony. The dancing was crisp, clean and technically precise by both the corps and the soloists. As the dance progressed and the speed of the footwork increased, there was never any indication of sloppiness that frequently goes along with fast footwork. The only wobble I saw was on the part of Bonnie Pickard while being supported by Momchil Mladenov. Her arm was visibly shaking as if from tension or fatigue. She did also seem to hold tension in her face, but there were fleeting facial displays of sheer joy. If she had been able to completely release that tension, her performance would have been perfect! In fact, a little girl sitting behind me asked the adult accompanying her asked, “What is wrong with her face?” It was distracting up close, maybe not so much further back? Although this was a difficult piece for the corps, they executed it flawlessly. This was very impressive considering the intricacies of the steps. Their timing was spot on, and their lines were straight. Additionally the costuming was great. It is very difficult to precisely fit a rotating group of dancers and sometimes you just do the best you can. Each dancer looked as if the costumes were made just for them. Not one gape or wrinkle to be seen. Kudos to wardrobe! I disagreed with the choice of bright red (with a trace of orange) for the costume for Gina Artese. I think I would have picked a richer, darker red, but that again is my own personal preference! The bright red just seemed jarring. The pale pink for the female corps (Violeta Angelova, Amy Brandt, Morgan Davison, Kristen Gallagher, Kara Genevieve, Elisabeth Halowchuk, Katelyn Prominski and Lisa Reneau) was beautiful. The male corps dancers (Daniel Benavides, Joseph Bunn, Ian Grosh, James Reed Hague, Kurt Henning, Andrew Kaminski, Benjamin Lester, and Keelan Whitmore) were also costumed with great care and it really showed. Sometimes I am distracted by costumes, and start watching the costume and not the dancer. In those cases, I would have to criticize the wardrobe department. Their job is to enhance the dancer, not to over power, but to aid in moving the ballet forward. The wardrobe department really nailed this entire collection of dances!
After the first intermission, Adagio from Concierto de Mozart began. Elisabeth Holowchuk was more than competently partnered by Matthew Prescott. I recall thinking that they gave the impression that they truly enjoyed what they were doing. It was pleasant to see a couple that appeared to be a team, with both partners contributing equally to the success of the dance. It was evident to me that Ms. Holowchuk was always cognizant of contributing to the effort, rather than expecting Mr. Prescott to do all the work without her assistance. Again the footwork was precise and both dancers’ technique was pure and crisp. There seemed constant eye contact between the dancers. I really doubt that Ms. Holowchuk will remain in the corps much longer. If I were a betting woman, I would wager that she will be moved up the hierarchy very soon! Her performances seem not only consistent and dependable, but also quite entrancing. The violin was beautiful and was like icing on a cake. The costumes were of a light blue that is difficult to use well. Again wardrobe got it right! I especially liked the petal skirt of the tutu. I enjoy simplicity with few sparkles. These costumes were just that.
Following a brief pause, Scène d’amour from Romeo and Juliet was performed. This was my favorite from both shows. Others can call it “noodleing.” I would respond that they just don’t “get” Béjart! Maybe one must be a Baby Boomer to fully appreciate it? From the rise of the curtain with Runqiao Du waltzing with his imaginary Juliet, to the fall of the curtain, I was hooked. Ashley Hubbard portrayed a teen-age girl with believable ease. She relayed at times a feeling of joy that I have never seen on stage by any dancer previously. Her face beamed as her ponytail bounced as she moved across the stage. Ms. Hubbard also expressed distress and grief with equal effect. Mr. Du was also impressive. He too displayed the emotions Romeo experienced with ease. None looked forced. His dancing was technically pure and precise. The corps (Daniel Benavides, Joseph Bunn, Kurt Froman, Ian Grosh, Ken Guan, James Reed Hague, Kirk Henning, Andrew Kaminski, Benjamin Lester, Neil Marshall and Keelan Whitmore) performed well with no one dancer standing out from the group, which is precisely as it should be! The costumes while basic were again perfect for this piece, as was the simple moon on the drop. Dressing the soloists in white was perfect. The two subtle dark colors for the corps got the job done without being overbearing. I am partial to boots on men. Again, the men wore boots but their presence was perfectly subtle. Once again great job! The evening performance had the same cast, with the same result, which demonstrated to me the consistency of these dancers.
Closing the afternoon performance was Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. In this performance, Katelyn Prominski danced the role of the Strip Tease Girl. I believe her performance on the stage on the stage was subdued on purpose. This was when she was at work, simply doing her job. When she dances on the floor in front of the bar, with pure abandon, she is dancing simply for her own joy. Her costume is at first an innocent pale pink and then she changes into a black dress. Katelyn was superb! Elisabeth Holowchuk danced this role in the evening performance. She was capable, but Katelyn owned this role! Kirk Henning danced the Hoofer in the afternoon and Kurt Froman performed in the evening. Kirk was a technically superior tapper, but Kurt dripped with charisma. I enjoyed watching them both equally. They just were quite different, neither better than the other. Benjamin Lester played the role of the Big Boss; Daniel Benavides and Joseph Bunn played Bartenders; Neil Marshal was the Thug; Momchil Mladenov was Morrosine, premier danseur noble; Jared Redick, Ken Guan and Ian Grosh were Policemen; and James Reed Hague, Andrew Kaminski, Matthew Prescott and Keelan Whitmore made up the male corps. These dancers were the same for both matinee and evening shows. The female corps for the afternoon was made up of Emily Erin Adams, Gina Artese, Morgan Davison, Kara Genevieve and Vanessa Woods. For the evening, the dancers were Emily Erin Adams, Violeta Angelova, Gina Artese, Amy Brandt, Kristen Gallagher and Vanessa Woods. There was so much activity on stage at times, even seeing this piece twice I feel as if I have missed parts. After being served tastes of Balanchine and Béjart, this was dessert!
My sincere apologies for taking so long to post this. The simple explanation is the sheer craziness of my work and travel schedule.