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Ballet Arizona - new ballet by Ib Andersen

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Ib Andersen is in his second season as Director of Ballet Arizona, a regional company that has managed, Phoenix-like, to rise from a rather desperate financial situation and that is presenting choreography and dancing well worth seeing.

I long ago promised a review of Andersen's new ballet and never delivered; however the company was on tour recently and performed the ballet again, along with lesser pieces by Oscar Araiz and Dwight Rhoden, and what follows are some impressions of its performance.

Andersen choreographed "Indigo Rhapsody" to Rachmaninoff's lushly romantic and familiar "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini". The stage is quite dark, lit by intense sidelights. The dancers - dressed in shades of dark blue and black - walk forward out of the murky darkness and into the light, and begin to move to the first theme, first in unison and then separated by sex into two groups. Three couples eventually distinguish themselves; one of the couples embraces.

Another couple remains alone on stage, in a pool of light. They reach toward each other, slowly, and embrace. He supports her, but she sinks back to the earth. He carries her body horizontally, as if on a bier. They may have a deep familiarity with one another, and their measured and intertwined movements produced in me(at least at that moment) a sense of inevitability and peaceful resignation, of loss, and of the time just before grief.

The two dancers were Luis Torres and Kanako Imayoshi. Imayoshi's curving body eloquently expressed a radiant spirit - one not easily defeated by despair or even death. She was beautiful.

The ballet premiered a few weeks after Sept. 11, and whether or not it was intended, the darkness, the quiet simplicity of the choreography, the subtle, ambiguous relationships between men and women of the three couples, all aroused in me that same sense of painful loss and enormity of grief that seemed to linger in the atmosphere like clouds of dust.

This was balanced by the joyful musicality of the group sections...

During Rachmaninoff's climactic and overwhelmingly passionate theme, the three couples created a triptych. With one hand the men supported the inclined heads of the women, who looked skyward and then sank deeper into stillness as the men released their hands and stepped away. Finally they seemed to support each other in a kind of equilibrium.

After this beautiful adagio the ballet rushed forward vigorously, all dancers on stage, and ended, on the last quiet notes of the 'Rhapsody', in stillness.

This ballet ought to be seen! It's one of those ballets whose images linger in the mind's eye long after performance, and that allows for a multitude of different emotions with each viewing.

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Thank you, Sonora. I'm *very* glad you finally "delivered" smile.gif And very glad to read about the ballet.

I hope this will inspire other Ballet Alertniks to write about what you are seeing. We get lots of reports from New York (and please keep 'em coming!) but it would be so lovely to read what's happening all around the country. If Sonora hadn't posted this, we wouldn't know the ballet existed!!!

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Thank you; I'll be more inclined to write reviews from now on. This ballet of Ib Andersen's is beautiful and deserves to be enjoyed by a broader audience, I think. I imagine many people would like to know of strong and interesting work being done in less familiar places. Especially when it seems that alot of newer ballets, even those by popular choreographers, are so forgettable.

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This is a wonderful review and can serve as an example of how to write an account of a performance without using the technical vocabulary that some of us lack. I wouldn’t know a battement if I were beaten with it. My head is in a whirl just thinking about pirouttes, and I am whipped by the idea of fouttes. Besides all that, I have a bad attitude.

The more one knows the more one can enjoy what one sees and hears in the theater. However, reports like Sonora’s show that it is possible to give a real sense of being there without the use of technical terms, which is quite a gift.

It has effective descriptions of the music (most effective here, since just about everyone knows it and has it on his CD shelf), the lighting, and the dancers and how they moved to the choreography. Most importantly, at least for me, is how it affected the audience, which is beautifully depicted.

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Sonora, thanks a lot for your review. It seems that Ballet Arizona is very lucky to have such a talented director- choreographer! smile.gif I hope that you will report about the other programs of the company. Ib Andersen was one of the candidates for the direction of the ballet de Marseille after Roland Petit's departure, but the people who decided (from the ministry of culture and the city of Marseille) preferred Pietragalla because she was more famous in France... frown.gif

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Thank you very much.

I will be sure to describe the other programs. I know that the company is about to present a full-length Swan Lake (at the end of the month), and that Nickolaj Hubbe will be here to perform the role of Siegfried. This is tremendously exciting of course, and much anticipated.

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