“BALLET FANTASTIQUE” REFERENCES AND TWEAKS
Delusions of Grandeur Productions’ fourth outing, Ballet Fantastique (October 16th, 17th, 23rd, and 24th at the Dairy Center for the Arts), is an outwardly sweet and foundationally subversive presentation of Romantic-era-inspired ballets by co-Artistic Directors Kristen Demaree and Elvira Stewart. The Directors state their desire “to go back to meaning and gesture as the primary focus of the dance,” and this is evident in the choreography of both Acts I and II. Act I, La Lune et Les Lucioles, is choreographed by Elvira Stewart and Kristen Demaree is the creator of L’Oiseau Bizarre et Les Esprits des Nuages. While multiple classically balletic positions and postures are executed, the dramatic emphasis is on small, often simple, movements and expressions.
Two of the ballerinas in Act. I especially drew the eye, one for her commitment to the choreography, and the other for the enchanting line of her neck and upper arms. Martin Gonzalo Justo Bernandez brought vivacity and attentiveness to his partnership and solo dancing. The value given to quiet gestures inspires a more careful viewing, as one realizes how easy it can be to miss something that may not be repeated. Given the philosophical basis of the Ballet, this theme could be applied more generally, beyond the borders of the stage.
Act. II succeeded on more than one front. The comedic, self-deprecating aspect of the Strange Bird (danced by Kristen Demaree) was both clearly and compassionately shown. Laughter is not necessarily a staple of ballet, and this was not the least of the conventional expectations defied in these works; bold and beautiful ballerinas across a spectrum of ages and relative ability took the stage with admirable intention and a certain degree of joy.
The Strange Bird’s jangling, pots-and-pans adorned skirts recalled the weapon-heavy women who initiated the March on Versailles, and her shedding of this layer references the (then unheard-of) “freer” costume of Marie Taglioni in her role as La Sylphide in 1827 and its “light ethereal blue, in contrast to the corseted and heavy costumes of the past (as mentioned in the program).
Non-balletic movements, and even some straight-up boogying, took frequent place, keeping the tone light at the same time I got the sense that a deep and rather sad undercurrent was present. The balance suggests a ferocity of will that is to be respected. The red-flagged bust top and matching umbrella were brilliant props that really helped establish the conceptual and physical set of the ballet. They were also an attractive contrast to the dominant light blues, grays, and whites. Long strips of tulle, draped over several dancers in a row, worked wonderfully to visually communicate “cloud.”
I enjoyed the group choreography that featured each dancer making the same motion in a quick-succession series as well as the flurry of different but related movements made by many dancers all at once. The ending was perhaps my favorite, as the dancers were staggered in a diagonal line behind the Strange Bird who, while still waiting for the bus, seemed to have undergone a potentially positive change or be poised to make one happen for herself.
Jane E. Werle: With artwork and writing published by Bombay Gin, Hot Whiskey Press, Wyrd Tree Press, Summer Stock, and her own imprint, Thirsty Lizard Books, Jane is a passionate proponent of creativity, self-expression, and the pursuit of elusive and meaningful beauty. A poet, educator, and longtime nanny, she works and explores with kids, challenging young minds and safeguarding young hearts. Jane graduated with an MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and has come up with no compelling reason since to move away from the lively Denver area and its admirably self-made cultural opportunities. Contact Jane with editing needs, parenting problems, and extravagant travel writing proposals.