The Colorado Ballet Corps de Ballet and soloists Maria Mosina, Sharon Wehner, and Alexei Tyukov executed Balanchine’s choreography with admirable proficiency and vivacity in the first installment of the evening, Concerto Barocco. Tyukov’s lifts were a study in correctness. As the lifter, his job is to make his partner look weightless, and he did. This is not to lessen the degree of effort on the part of his partners; both parties must move freely and with abandon, as if it weren’t such a physical risk and degree of artistic illusion. They share the burden of trust; she must give it completely and he must absolutely deserve it.
It was such a treat to see male dancers featured prominently in Val Caniparoli’s In Pieces. Jesse Marks, Domenico Luciano, and Christopher Moulton each had a chance to display their varied and significant talents in both group and solo formats. Luciano’s polished technique, Marks’s power and precision, and Moulton’s enviable extension and jump height were all impressive. There was a distinct modern feel to this second installment, largely supported by Lloyd Sobel’s lighting design. At one point the dancers appeared as silhouettes, emphasizing the structural elements of the choreography (which was echoed by Sandra Woodall’s costume design).
The format of In Pieces appeals with its small cast and balanced soloes. Asuka Sasaki continues to stand out even among excellence (this reviewer has also seen her dance in Midsummer’s Night Dream). Some liberties are taken with traditional form in the choreography– frequent and dynamic twists feature– and Sasaki nails both the cheeky, irregular gestures, and the more familiar balletic conventions. All the dancers were clearly committed to the challenges of this work. To make the small and large movements equally exact is quite the achievement.
Like life, art is better when set to music, especially live music. The Colorado Ballet Orchestra’s magnificent accompaniment was thoroughly enjoyable in its own right. I was glad to see the first and second violinists featured on stage for bows; to see them, as well as Music Director and Principal Conductor Adam Flatt, was to be reminded of the massive (and chiefly unseen) effort that all the musicians of the Orchestra make. The performance would not be complete without this critical element.
Fancy Free, choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the last installment of the show, was very pleasing for a part of the audience, though not universally liked. As a nostalgia piece it has value, and the dancers did very well, but the boys-chase-skirts theme is rightfully dated. The set was great, somewhat outsized and angular, and the music was fun;
Kevin Gaël Thomas‘s comedic sense and good-natured self-deprecation made him a bit of a scene-stealer. Although we did not see as much of his remarkable athleticism as I would have liked, he threw himself into his role and charmed me into thinking he really was having a good time.
The installments were punctuated by intermissions. While it can be a logistical problem to get people in and out of their seats more than once or twice, it may have been thematically necessary to separate these very different pieces. Additionally, I began to see the appeal of re-imagining the theatre-going experience. Rather than being tied to one’s seat for an extended period of time, the evening becomes more of a social experience with three relatively brief exhibitions and the opportunity to appreciate them individually.
Colorado Ballet will be presenting Ballet MasterWorks at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House from February 20 – March 1, 2015. For more information visit Colorado Ballet’s website at www.coloradoballet.org.
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.