Sunday, February 15, 2004

Winter Repertory (Ohio Ballet)

Ohio Ballet presents full evening of well choreographed dancing

Dance is composed of four elements: choreography, movement, music and message. When the four come together it makes for an exciting evening. Ohio Ballet’s ‘WINTER REPERTORY PROGRAM’ had three of the elements consistently present...choreography, music and message. The movement, the dancing, was inconsistent.

The program opened with a light, sprightly, South American beat. “Bossa Nova,” consisting of four short pieces, was given its world premiere in this program. They were well choreographed by Leslie Cook. The very talented Amanda Cobb was wonderful as the lead dancer in all the segments. She was ably backed by Kristin Knapp, Alicia Pitts and Eva Trapp. Brian Murphy’s facial expressions, pelvic thrusts and quick feet picked up the beat and created a perfect feel. Unfortunately, the other males were often flat footed and appeared to be laboring rather than enjoying themselves.

“Wanders Night Song” was a classic ballet whose choreography was the weakest of the evening. Toby George was acceptable, if not spectacular as the soloist. He displayed nice leaps and good flow, but lacked the charisma needed to capture the audience.

“Etudes” was performed to ear jarring modern music. The choreography of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux didn’t always fit Gyorgy Ligeti’s tonal intentions. In spite of this, the piece was superbly danced by Alicia Pitts, whose toe work was wonderful, Eva Trapp and Kristin Knapp.

Chung-Fu Chang’s “Traveling in the Frost”was danced to pianist David Fisher’s live piano accompaniment and the poetic messages of Wilhelm Muller and Peter Hartling. Chang challenged the five male dancers with interesting choreography, pushing the performers to their limits. Though some of the unit timing was off, the overall effect was generally positive. Especially effective was Dennis Dugan’s lighting in a segment in which the dancers’ shadows were projected onto the back curtain.

Bennefoux also choreographed “Chaconne” which was danced to violin soloist Amy Barlowe Bodman’s interpretation of composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The piece was very nicely performed by Amanda Cobb.

The world premiere of “Transformation!” by Ohio Ballet’s Artistic Director Jeffrey Graham Hughes was highlighted by the outstanding singing and musical sounds of the group Divine Hope. Damien Highfield, portraying Paul, stood out in the story taken from the “Bible,” Acts 6: 1 through 9:19. Eric Carvill was effective as Stephen. Though no great piece of ballet, the overall effect was positive.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: Ohio Ballet continues to draw small but appreciative audiences. The group needs to take steps to make people want to come through more innovative programming and improved presentation, especially by their male dancers.