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Colorado Ballet Starts 2011-12 Season

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Last night was the Colorado Ballet's apparently annual appearance at the Arvada Center, a performing arts facility in the northwest suburbs. The format was different this year, with a single show lasting about 2 hours rather than an opening act followed by a full-length main show with a lengthy intermission between them (the shows were in the outdoor theatre, so patrons could bring supper or buy food there), and since the CB shared the stage with a chamber orchestra called the Playground Ensemble, which apparently consists of musicians with some affiliation with the University of Denver, the CB's performance only lasted an hour.

The CB's program was in the same format as previous years, with the first part consisting of a series of classic dances from various ballets followed by a full performance of a short ballet. The difference was that this year the first part consisted of only 3 dances rather than the 6-8 of previous years. This year's choice for the second part was "The Faraway", a ballet that was choreographed for the CB by Matthew Neenan and which they premiered last September. This is a high-energy, high-paced work having something to do with the art and/or life of Georgia O'Keefe and set to excerpts from various early works of Shostakovich (which automatically qualifies it as as masterpiece :-) ).

The performance was a little crisper than last year's, maybe because it was a little later in August so that the dancers have been back to rehersals for longer. Though once again Maria Mosina struggled with a set of 32 fouettes (this time in the black swan pas de deux), something that she's never done in an actual full ballet.

The CB has had 5 major personnel changes since last year. The most significant was the retirement of leading man Igor Vassine, owing to a deteriorating knee condition. Sayaka Karasugi, who was the clear no. 4 female dancer, apparently has retired from serious dancing. Her Facebook page merely lists her as a student at Colorado State University. Viacheslav Buchovsky was promoted to fill the opening for a male principal (and was impressive in last night's show) and Caitlin Valentine (aka Caitlin Valentine-Ellis)and Shelby Dyer stepped up to soloist. There was also one departure the corps. It looks like the CB promoted a few dancers from the studio company to maintain a 30-dancer roster.

The Playground Ensemble's performance was horrendously boring. They approached it like they were giving a lecture to a theory and composition class. I'm not particularly interested in what "music" sounds like if there is no structure or if the notes were selected at random. Ironically, they stated that one of their goals is to show young people that classical music can be fun.

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