An even playing field in ballet? We’ve all seen Black Swan, to even consider cordial and open spaces among ballerinas and their male counterparts just doesn’t seem palatable. Colorado Ballet showed Saturday, that indeed it is probable and quite liking to many tastes.
Saturday evening at the Armstrong Center for Dance, Colorado Ballet presented Attitude on Santa Fe. This performance was the result of an inter-company call for choreographers within the entire Colorado Ballet company – not just principles. The three choreographers showcased included Sean Omandam, Kevin Hale and Kevin Gaël Thomas, all members of the Corps de Ballet. The performances highlighted varied themes, music and tech with the pieces intermingling principles, soloists and corps de ballet dancers all together. There was no one star or starlet. The roles varied and the intensity and beauty was felt by all.
Opening the night, Sean Omandam presented Scatterplot, a well-thought piece discussing parameters, data points and those not following on the derivative curve – it focused on the outliers or deviants. With ten dancers varying in number on stage as the piece evolved, the movements were sharp, scientific and resonant of semaphore language. With ombré leotards on the women and the men clad in only black pants, the dancers themselves took on the visual of a point along a graph. They interplayed with the music, Prologue, Shousetsu Mask, Bone China Shunpoudoh by Radicalfashion, as if each disjointed pause and beep resonated directly within their bodies.
Following the first of two intermissions, Kevin Hale dramatically changed the mood with Sinister Love. Focusing on death as a character who falls in love with a girl and her friends. Then she and all her friends subsequently die; the mood was indeed driven somber. The use of tech in this piece was outstanding. Highlighting different parts of the stage and darkening others allowed for a clever swapping of characters such that it seemed as if our death character multiplied into two different bodies. The whimsy of music partnered with the gravity carried by Domenico Luciano as death was tangible. Working in the intimate black box theater also added a weight to the performance as the dancers were literally within arm’s reach. While the ending was predictable, the standing applause at the end surely stood as testament to the audience’s approval.
Rounding out the evening, the heaviness lifted and Kevin Gael Thomas presented Nostaligia. Yearning to relive memory and love, these two movements pushed the audience into wistful recollection. Between the two movements, what stood out was the transition – a piece unto itself, almost disjointed as the music was silent. The dancers transitioned with breadth in unison moving with an invisible wind as if blowing kisses to a moment no longer.
The evening was delightful and accessible. If you are not a tried and true ballet lover, keep an eye out for the January Attitude on Santa Fe performance of Colorado Ballet company choreographers. You will get to taste test mini-ballets without the full commitment of a singular Ellie Caulkins Opera House performance. Kudos to Gil Boggs for bringing this refreshing experience to Denver. The talent pool of dancers within our community just continues to impress!
W. Celeste Davis Stragand: Published author, showcased artist and local Denverite, W. Celeste Davis Stragand is not new to the art world. Her passion for delving into the root of existence and movement will challenge and praise both choreographers and the audience. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Celeste holds two bachelor of arts degrees, one in Chemistry and the other in English. She is also a graduate of Naropa University holding a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. A former national slam team poet, Celeste is a graduate of the Downtown Denver Partnership Leadership Program and sits on the American Institute of Architects Colorado board. Her passion and enthusiasm for the kinetic arts will frolic and frenzy through the upcoming season of performances with many hopes for an encore!