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An Evening with the Stars

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Saturday, September 10th was the third annual "Evening with the Stars" in Indianapolis. It is a real treat to see such wonderful dancers in the midwest.

Highlights from Act 1:

After the Rain by Christopher Wheeldon with Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith was dance in its purest form. The choreography comes off as being so simple (although I'm sure it isn't at all) that the emotion of the dancers takes the spotlight. Yuan Yuan's technique is truly impeccable. She may be the closest that I have ever seen to the ballet ideal in appearance and technique. Damian Smith was a strong partner that did manage to tear my eyes away from Yuan Yuan periodically, which is really saying something.

Maria Kochetkova performed One Overture, choreographed by Jorma Elo. What a treat this piece of choreography is! Maria wore a very modern costume with a half tutu. The eccentricity of the steps were a perfect fit for the unique costume. She almost appeared to be extra-terrestrial, and the steps were like ballet meets crumping. Maria has fantastic isolations and focus, and this piece is a must see. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of Elo's choreography.

Benjamin Millepied's pas de deux from the ballet Everything Doesn't Happen at One was performed by Isabella Boyleston and Marcelo Gomes. Marcelo really didn't have much to do other than lifting. However, as the main focus of the choreography, Boyleston did look like a true professional. She has beautifully arched feet. I would like to see her in classical rep as well. I will say that I absolutely hated the music (by David Lang) for this piece. It was unsettling.

Paloma Herrera and Guillame Cote performed the pas de deux from Rubies. Paloma is so strong! She performed the powerful swinging battements with ease, which has not been done by everyone that I have seen perform this dance. She did not look like the Balanchine choreography fit her like a glove, but she was beautiful.

It was nice to see NYCB dancers perform Balanchine choreography when Tiler Peck and Daniel Ulbricht performed Tarantella. They are the type of performers that dance for the audience. They are technical whiz kids, and Tiler's musicality is always astonishing. Ulbricht's jumps sent the audience into a frenzy.

Highlights from Act 2:

Victoria Jaiani and Fabrice Calmels of the Joffrey Ballet performed Edwaard Liang's Age of Innocence. This was my first viewing of Liang's choreography and I was very impressed. To me, it felt like Liang had found the perfect blend of edge of your seat modern choreography and a traditional coda pas de deux. There was a moment when the two dancers walked up from downstage to upstage on opposite sides of the stage that reminded me of a traditional coda. Jaiani and Calmels are first rate dancers, and I would love to know how tall Calmels is. He was so commanding and well over a head taller than Jaiani even when she was on pointe.

Next up were Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz in Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. If the master of ceremonies Edwaard Liang had not told us that this choreography was originally created for Violette Verdy it would have been believable that it was created on Tiler Peck. Tiler has such an attack in her dancing. Her pique turns ate up the ground in record time, and her fouette turns were soooo solid. But even more than her stunning tricks, her musicality and love of dance were evident.

I was very surprised to see that Ami, danced by Thomas Forster and Alexandre Hammoudi was choreographed by Marcelo Gomes. This was a very fun dance. Pianist Conrad Tao played the Chopin score on center stage with the dancers. The dance had a sort of one-upmanship feel to it, and Forster and Hammoudi were very exciting. I have to say, Thomas Forster's first tendu almost took my breath away. Maybe I'm just a total ballet nerd, but I don't think I've ever seen someone use their feet so strikingly. He has a stunning arch, but he was also very precise and lightning quick.

Piazzolla Tango, performed by Daniel Ulbricht, was a real audience favorite. It was light on artistry and heavy on tricks, but I suppose that is standard gala fare. Ulbricht seems to be unaffected by gravity. His aerial acrobatics were definitely impressive.

Edwaard Liang was a slightly nervous MC, but it was fun to see him in Indianapolis.

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Sorry to have left him out...the review was getting very long. Simkin danced the Don Quixote Grand Pas de Deux with Kochetkova in the final dance on the program. I found his performance technically sound and I would definitely say that he is quite the turner and jumper. However, I wonder if he would manage to captivate an audience in a full length ballet?

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Thank you for your review, Krystin! I enjoyed reading it. :)

"...I would like to see her (Boylston) in classical rep as well."

Isabella is superb in classical roles. I hope you get a chance to see her one day.

"...Jaiani and Calmels are first rate dancers, and I would love to know how tall Calmels is. He was so commanding and well over a head taller than Jaiani even when she was on pointe."

Victoria is a beautiful, velvety dancer! I met her in Toronto and saw her dance at age 16 when she was quite new to Joffrey. She has developed into a gorgeous principal, supple and sculpted of body, very lyrical as well as exciting.

Fabrice is 6'6" tall. Victoria is about 5'4"- 5'5". Calmels is elegant with stunning lines and a flying leap. His height is stated in the beginning of this interview from 3 years ago:

Fabrice Calmels: The Joffrey's French connection

"I was very surprised to see that Ami, danced by Thomas Forster and Alexandre Hammoudi was choreographed by Marcelo Gomes."

Yes, Marcelo choreographs, too! I've only seen the contemporary classical-like piece he choreographed for Isabella and Cory Stearns when they competed for the Erik Bruhn Prize in Toronto a couple of years ago. It wasn't really that good, although it had some nice movements. I'm eager to see how he's developing as a choreographer (how does he find the time!?). I'd love to see what you saw, "Ami", and think that having a chance to see Forster and Hammoudi try to outdo each other in a ballet fun piece must have been fantastic!


edited to fix coding

Edited by Marga
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