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Casting, News, Reviews for "Classical Innovations"

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Casting is now up on the Ballet Arizona website for the Classical Innovations program, which runs 26 Mar (8pm), 27 Mar (2pm and 8pm), and 28 Mar (2pm) at the Orpheum Theatre. The "Raymonda" was wonderful when it premiered -- Giselle Doepker was beautiful as one of the two mains soloists -- Dianne Chilgren will play the Chopin for "In the Night", which is cause for cheers, and the new Ib Andersen work is set to Britten.

From the .pdf which is available for download from a link on this page:


Choreography by Marius Petipa

Music by Alexander Glazunov

Staged by Olga Evreinoff and Maria Simonetti

Adagio: Ensemble

Pas de Quatre: Beau Campbell, Erica Felsch, Megan Chmelik, Chloe Freytag

Pas de Quatre: Ilir Shtylla, Michal Wozniak, Slawomir Wozniak, Matthew Poppe

1st Variation: Kanako Imayoshi

2nd Variation: Michele Mahowald

3rd Variation: Jillian Barrell

4th Variation: Chelsea Teel

5th Variation: Shea Johnson (26, 27E), Astrit Zejnati (27M, 28)

6th Variation:: Tzu-Chia Huang (26, 27E), Natalia Magnicaballi (27M, 28)

Finale: Ensemble

In the Night

Choreography by Jerome Robbins

Staged by Christine Redpath

Music by Frédéric Chopin

Special Guest Artist: Pianist Dianne Chilgren

Paola Hartley and Roman Zavarov

Natalia Magnicaballi and Ilir Shtylla

Ginger Smith and Astrit Zejnati

(26, 27E)

Chelsea Teel and Shea Johnson

Michelle Mahowald and Joseph Cavanaugh

Natalia Magnicaballi and Ilir Shtylla

(27M, 28)

World Premiere

Choreography by Ib Andersen

Music by Benjamin Britten, Diversions for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 21

Ginger Smith and Roman Zavarov

Chelsea Teel and Shea Johnson

Natalia Magnicaballi and Astrit Zejnati

Tzu-Chia Huang and Russell Clarke

Jillian Barrell, Beau Campbell, Sasha Edelman, Jennifer Ham,

Kara Hanretty, Michelle Mahowald

Joseph Cavanaugh, Daniel Marshalsay, Ian Poulis, Ilir Shtylla,

Michal Wozniak, Slawomir Wozniak

Chelsea Teel's name changed from Chelsea Wilcox. It's nice to see Huang paired with Clarke in the new Andersen piece, and Zavarov with Hartley again in the Robbins and Smith in the Andersen.

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Ah, yes, I did. Haven't been on Ballet Talk for a while, and just checked in to see if anyone had posted recently.

This company continues to be a pleasure to watch, with veterans who continue to grow as artists and promising younger dancers who are developing their physical and artistic skills before our eyes. With time constraints, I unfortunately was unable to attend more than one performance, seeing only the Saturday night cast.

"In the Night," Ballet Arizona's first foray into Robbins, made me hope to see them perform more of his works. As many BTers know, this piece juxtaposes 3 couples, in this case danced by Paula Hartley and Roman Zavarov, Natalia Magnicaballi and Ilir Shtylla, and Ginger Smith and Astrid Zejnati. Ginger Smith was dynamic in the expressive third movement, playing it less angular and histrionic than it can be performed, yet still animated by a deep, conflicted passion. Her final movement, where she submits to him completely, was all the more moving as the result of her convincing efforts to escape. Mr. Zejnati, as always, was a masterful partner. When this is performed at the Kennedy Center, I hope some of you will weigh in on the Magnicaballi/Shtylla pairing, dancing the second couple. Ms. Magnicaballi has such a very strong stage presence, and I thought Mr. Shtylla, while physically attactive with her, and certainly a considerate partner, did not come up with the wattage needed to match such a regal thoroughbred.

The Raymonda excerpt was nicely done, and showed the promise of a slew of young, young dancers -- one, Chloe Freytag, is only 16, and there are several not much older. There were, on occaision, some sloppiness with cabrioles that needs to be cleaned up before the summer. Raymonda's unison classism is unforgiving of technical lapses. One of the veterans, Kanoko Imayoshi, took the first variation and showed how it should be done. This versitile dancer continues to be able to dance and act in anything -- equally convincing as a friend of Juliet's or as Mythra.

The World Premier, which, as I recall, ended up being entitled "Diversions," was a disappointment. Unlike Mr. Anderson's full-evening ballet "Play," it does not take advantage of his dancer's strengths, show them or his choreographic strengths to advantage, or provide the audience with eye candy, visual or emotional interest, food for thought, or serve other virtues. I am particularly distressed that this will be in the "Dance in America" programme, as it will not make a good impression. Tzu-Chia Huang is lovely, with her expressive feet, beautiful legs and port de bras, and she has an appealing gentleness that reaches out to us straight from her heart. I was very much looking forward to seeing her with Russell Clarke, who was returning after an injury. The two of them are beautiful together, and have a matching energy, as well as geometry, BUT their extended pas de deux came off as an extended exercise in manipulation, with no real dancing for him. While man next to me declared this piece "The best yet," the two young ladies a couple down immediately started to name all the pieces they preferred, and I must side with them. If Ballet Arizona is going to show the world that their dancers can do anything -- Robbins, strict classical, and contemporary, I would much rather they display good pieces, which, indeed, these dancers perform very, very well -- Twyla Tharp and Wheeldon are in the repertory, and would be much preferred. This performance was followed by "Play," the next month -- an nearly unadulterated pleasure, which served to remind me how much I disliked this new piece.

We still have one home performance left -- Balanchine -- and then the dancers are off to Washington. We wish them well and hope many of you will be able to see them.

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