LakeCities Ballet Theatre bridges the gap between artists and audience in Insights On Dance.
Lewisville — A large crowd gathered at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater last night to see LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s Insights On Dance, ending the company’s 2011-’12 season on a high note.
The concept of the show was to create a connection between the audience and the dancers using video interviews with choreographers and footage of rehearsals as well as some ballet history highlights provided by LBT Artistic Director Kelly Lannin and Art Director Tom Rutherford.
Before each piece Lannin and Rutherford gave us a quick history lesson on topics such as pointe shoes and tutus before cutting away to Rutherford’s Q&A with the choreographer. While at times lengthy, the video interviews opened our eyes to what it takes to conceive and create a piece of work. We then had the opportunity to see the performers execute the choreographer’s vision on the stage.
The evening began with Black Velvet, a Fosse-inspired piece set by Josh Bergasse, the choreographer of the recent hit television series SMASH. In his interview, Bergasse described the music (David Baker; performed by Beaux Arts Trio) as bluesy and cool and said the movement was a mix of ballet and classic Bob Fosse/Jack Cole styles.
Fosse’s shoulder rolls, broken wrists and inverted walks were scattered throughout the piece. Add black leotards, black skirts and pointe shoes and suddenly these classic jazz moves morphed into something new and exciting. And the classically trained ballerinas were able to literally let their hair down, blending proficient pointe work with the Fosse attitude.
The first half of the show also included Classique, a strictly balletic piece choreographed by Fabiana Fadlala-Poulis; With Love, Esther Williams, a refreshing piece poking fun at synchronized swimming with clever choreography by Shannon Tate; and the spiritually uplifting story ballet Appalachian Spring—A Pioneer Epic choreographed by Allan Kinzie with music by Aaron Copland.
In Appalachian Spring the grande jetes and multiple pirouettes took a back seat to everyday gestures such as walking, sitting and hand holding; and the dancers’ facial expressions evoked the fear, sadness and joy each of them felt. In his interview Kinzie said the family depicted in the piece was based on his ancestors and their experience with Aunt Mary, a slave taken in by his family in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia during the Civil War.
The highly anticipated piece of the evening, Concerto Barocco, choreographed by George Balanchine, was saved for the end of the show. In her interview Shawn Stevens spoke of her role as Repetiteur (basically she is responsible for everything associated with this piece), her affection for and personal relationship with Balanchine and how only a lucky few ever get the chance to dance this piece.
As the curtain opened, the lights caught the dancers poised with one leg stretched out on pointe, each dancer wearing the Balanchine classic white leotard and skirt. One moment they are still and the next they are brushing, sliding and pivoting their arms and legs as they weave in and out of each other. Stevens mentioned in her interview that Balanchine always believed the movement should enhance the music. While Rhea Edelman (violin), Anna Roberts (violin) and Elena Dorozhkina (piano) played Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in D Minor, the dancers accented the competing Baroque melodies with their arms, legs and heads and their crispy technique and incredible stamina.
The simplistic beauty of the well-executed Balanchine piece has re-energized my appreciation for ballet.
This review was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.