Sunday, November 16, 2003

Ohio Ballet Fall Repertory Program-2003 (Ohio Ballet)


In contrast to the Kirov’s packed houses, the recent performances by the Ohio Ballet at the Ohio Theatre had much smaller attendance. Too bad, because the Ohio Ballet’s Fall Repertory Program was one of their best offerings since Jeffery Graham Hughes took over as the company’s Artistic Director.

A smorgasbord of offerings, the audience was exposed to everything from serious classical ballets, dynamic humorous moves, and drum-band accompanied movements.

The evening opened with the world premiere of “Rossini Dances.” The number was choreographed by former Cleveland Ballet prima ballerina Cynthia Gregory. Gregory was an elegant dancer who captivated the stage with her control and excellence. Though the ballet doesn’t quite hit her level of performance, it was a fine example of classic choreography. The women were joyous, the men had some difficulty in their timing. Fine stage pictures and movements well fit Rossini’s “String Sonata No. 6 in D Major.”

A series of very short pieces followed. “In Nuit,” which was accompanied by David Fisher on the piano, Larissa Freude performed effectively. Her toe-work was outstanding.

The ever-beautiful “Dying Swan” was presented with the classic choreography of Michael Fokine as restaged by Isabelle Fokine. Performed to the piano artistry of David Fisher, the music of Camille Saint-Saens from the “Carnaval des Animaux Suite” was beautiful. Eva Trapp was competent in the role of the swan in the final stages of life. She fluttered to her death compassionately, though the enthralling elegance of prima ballerinas was missing.

“Esmeralda Pas De Deux,”presented as a company premiere, is a nice patterned piece. Toby George, whose forte is high leaps, and Amanda Cobb who moves well and is lovely with her constant smile, partnered well. Again David Fisher accompanied the duo playing Cesare Pugni’s music.

One of the highlights of the evening was Sam Watson’s contemporary “Wired.” Actually, the title “Unwired” might have been better for this Pilobus-type number. Bouncing, intertwining, bouncing off each other, rolling on the floor, the piece defies description. How about, “it was a blast, a hoot, a fun interlude.” Damien Highfield and Brian Murphy appeared to have a ball in this non-traditional piece.

Jeffrey Graham Hughes’ “Ballet Ramajay” received its world premiere as the finale of the program. Danced to a combination of sprightly, reggae, contemporary music performed by the excellent University of Akron Steel Drum Band, the choreography fit the music well. Though at times there was a lack of coordinated timing in the dancing there was enough creativity to make up for the minuses. A.Christina Giannini’s costume design was wonderful. The dancers flashed across the stage in multi-colored creative pieces of material. Hughes did an excellent job of coordinating the movements to the sounds. The highlights were “The Girl From Ipanema”a sprightly interpretation by Amanda Cobb and Toby George, and “Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm” finely performed by Ashley Bowman and Damien Highfield.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: Ohio Ballet’s “Fall Repertory Program” was a fine evening of dance. Let’s hope that future programs live up to this.