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TITAS Command Performance

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I just returned from the 2004 TITAS Command Performance of International Ballet. It was a great evening! Here is my first ever review :)

The first act opened with Jose Manuel Carreno (ABT) and Lorna Feijoo (Boston Ballet) in Adam's Giselle Pas De Deux (Act 2). It was well excecuted, although not my favorite. The two were very good, but that is one pas that I prefer to see in the whole ballet. I feel it loses some meaning without the scenery and the rest of the story to go along with it.

Rhasta Thomas performed Roger C. Jeffrey's Last Kiss, a contemporary piece, next. Thomas's lines and jumps were awesome! The lighting also added a great effect to the piece.

The next piece was Patricia Barker and Jeffrey Stanton (both of PNB) performing Balanchine's Agon. I don't believe I have ever seen this performed live, and it was a treat. Barker's legs and feet were beautiful and she definitely has strong technique. Stanton partnered Barker very well...the two were great.

Lauren Anderson and Andrew Murphy of Houston Ballet performed the Black Swan Pas de Deux next. I was not as impressed with these two performers. Anderson never fully convinced me of her role as a swan and Murphy lacked expression, although he was a good dancer technically.

Christopher Vo, a graduating senior from Booker T. Washington (a performing arts school in Dallas) was a special guest in tonight's performance. He performed a piece choreographed by Dwight Rhoden called Growth (A Part of a Bigger Picture). Christopher Vo is one to look for in the future.

The second act opened with Barker and Stanton again performing Balanchine's Stars and Stripes. The two had great chemistry on stage and really played it out well. Technically everything went well and it was fun to watch. Once again, I was impressed by Barker's beautiful lines and turns. Stanton impressed me with his character and was also technically strong.

Anderson and Murphy returned on stage to perform Stevenson's Cinderella Ballroom Pas de Deux. The two looked better in this piece, although still not of the quality of the other performers tonight. The choreography was interesting to watch, as I have never seen it before.

Christopher Vo performed a second solo by Jessica Lang. It was an excerpt from Oblivion and Some Look Back. Again, well excecuted and a dancer to watch grow into an artist.

The most exciting performance this evening was Rasta Thomas and Chiaki Yasukawa (Orlando Ballet) in the Le Corsaire Pas de Deux. The adagio was beautiful...then on to Rasta's variation. He excecuted it with the expected power and exquisite jumps. Yasukawa's variation was also wonderful. Her turns were all great and she has a beautiful arabesque. The coda was by far the best part, however... Most notable were Yasukawa's fouettes, which were as follows: single, single, back attitude turn into a double fouette about four times then she went into 3 singles and a double...ending with a triple pirouette! Rasta proceeded to match her wonderful turns with a series of turns in a la seconde, ending in multiple pirouettes. The two recieved a standing ovation at the end!!! :wink:

The last performance was Feijoo and Carreno in Don Quixote pas de deux. A special treat, as both dancers are Cuban. They started off a little shaky, but ended strong....both excecuting multiple pirouettes and Feijoo producing double fouettes in the coda. It was also worthy of a standing ovation.

The 2004 TITAS Command Performance of International Ballet started out slow, but ended very strong! I hope to be able to attend again next year....if anyone else attended, do please review!! I am interested to hear how others thought it went!

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Guest balletbuddy

Thanks for the review Lilijules5. It's nice to see some people interested in ballet in this part of the country. The TITAS ballet gala is a big society event here, but the review in the Dallas Morning News was pretty paltry.

I agree with Lilijules5 in some areas, but not all. I thought Jose Manuel Carreno and Lorna Feijoo were in a class by themselves compared to the other participants. Yes, doing Giselle pas de deux out of context is a hard sell, but for anyone who knows classical ballet, this was an excellent rendering. Ms. Feijoo was stunning in the opening doing the difficult developpes,etc. Not even a hint of wobble - totally secure and wonderfully in character. Mr. Carreno's personality is one of quiet reserve. Even when he is flashy he isn't "flashy." He is an absolute dream of a partner. Their Don Q pas de deux was excellent, also. I do feel that they felt the pressure of the (young) audiences adoration of Rasta Thomas and Chiaki Yasukawa (more on them, later), but that it only made them rise to the occasion which benefited the audience wonderfully. I do not understand what you mean, Lilijules5, when you talk about them starting out tentatively - I saw not one misstep or hesitation. For me, they were truly "classical ballet" stars - tried and true, totally professional, and passionate about what they were doing. Capable of "delivering the goods" performance after performance.

Rasta Thomas is definitely a crowd pleaser, but as much as I try, I cannot say I am truly a fan, yet. Watching his performance is like watching a ballet or gymnastics competition. He is definitely talented with great performance qualities and somehow I still feel that I have not seen any passion or inner soul from him. Oh, yes, he mechanically depicts all the right moves, etc., but it doesn't ring true for me - it's very sterile while executed to perfection. But also, in my opinion he has terrible taste in choreography - it's kind of "MTV" ballet. Needless to say, the young audience loves it and him. But at the price of these tickets, I want to see the top of the top of the ballet world and that's not quite what you get. Miss Yasuwaka was very interesting with Mr. Thomas in the Corsaire pdd. She rose to the occasion with great confidence. She, indeed, did some impressive turns and had a beautiful arabesque line. She performed wonderfully and had no missteps or falters, yet at the same time her dancing is on a smaller scale. She did not have the ballerina qualities of Ms. Feijoo. I don't think she would read out very far in a big house, but she is definitely someone to watch.

Patricia Barker and Jeffrey Stanton did Agon and Stars and Stripes very well, but alas, it would not compare to leading dancers from NYCB. Ms. Barker has beautiful line and feet, Mr. Stanton is an attentive partner, there is chemistry between them, but Agon lacked the necessary tension that you would get from say, Wendy Whelan and Albert Evans. Stars and Stripes was jaunty and fun and a great gala piece however Ms. Barker does a slightly different (easier) version than I am familiar with. But PNB seems to do a number of "slightly different" versions of Balanchine works. Ms. Barker and Mr. Stanton were charming and competent, but nothing special, at least in these pieces.

I was interested to see Lauren Anderson perform as I had never seen her. Houston Ballet in the Ben Stevenson days didn't get out and about much, nor did their dancers, so they have kind of been a little empire to themselves in Houston. I'm glad the city of Houston has been so supportive of the company. But this performance was disappointing. Ms. Anderson has perhaps not fully recovered from her leave of absence. The Black Swan pdd just did not cut it. A lot of missteps, trips, fumbles, bad lines and virtually no interpretation. Andrew Murphy was a bit bland. Ms. Anderson, who is of substantial build, should find a partner who compliments her. Mr. Murphy is too slight of build. Also, Ms. Anderson should rethink those large headpieces.

Christopher Vo does have talent. Let's see if he stands the test of time. The only comment I have at this time. is once again - terrible choreography. It is an unfortunate time in dance when there are talented performers, but a lack of choreography to meet them at their level and further them. And not to say anything against Mr. Vo, but once again, at these ticket prices, I want to see seasoned professional performers.


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