Monday, October 31, 2005

Fallfest-Ohio Ballet (Ohio Ballet)

Ohio Ballet performs ‘FALLFEST’

From the time the Cleveland-San Jose ballet fled town, local dance fans have been waiting for a company to come forth and take its place as the leading company on the north coast. The logical successor was Ohio Ballet, which already had a comfortable financial base and a well-formed company.

Unfortunately, while other companies, such as Verb Ballets and Groundworks have continued to build strong followings, as evidenced by the less than 1/3 capacity audience at the Ohio Theatre for the Saturday night production at the recent ‘FALLFEST,’ Ohio Ballet has not filled the void. Verb Ballets’ recent Cleveland Public Theatre run was nearly sold out. Last season the company’s Play House Square performance was sold out. They have decided that their Play House Square performance this season will be two nights rather than one (February 24 & 25). Groundworks also has developed a strong following, leading to sold out houses.

‘FALLFEST’ was an acceptable, if not outstanding evening of dance. The program featured two world premieres, ‘TURN OF THE SCREW’ and ‘FAITH.’

Domy Reiter-Soffer’s choreography of ‘TURN OF THE SCREW,’ Henry James’ haunting tale of suppressed emotions, was danced to the music of the ”2nd Symphony” and “Variation on the Theme of Hartman’ by John McCabe. Reiter-Soffer also designed the costumes and decor.

The piece was well choreographed to fit the music and competently danced, but the redundancy of movements led to some tediousness. In spite of this, the use of masks, Edwardian costumes, varied mood lighting and an appropriate backdrop aided to create a generally positive effect.

Eva Trapp as the governess, and Oren Porterfield and Jeremy Lemme as the young girl and her brother, were excellent. Grant Dettling, the former manservant and Andrea Blankstein, as the former governess were also impressive.

The piece concluded to polite applause.

‘FAITH’ was a nicely choreographed, if unevenly danced piece by Jeffrey Graham Hughes. Performed to the music of Jean Sibelius’ “5th Symphony in E flat major”
the use of mirroring movements, varied carries, strong partnering, flowing motions and movements that fit the music led to a pleasant, if not memorable experience. The major problem was a lack of polish in the large corps segments. Often the dancers were out of sync with arm movements not parallel, leg placements not universally duplicated, and one or more dancers moving before or after the others.

In the second movement, Brian Murphy, who continues to be the company’s strongest male dancer, partnered wonderfully with Oren Porterfield. Jeremy Lemme was excellent in his solo work. Too bad he doesn’t perform as proficiently as a member of the corps.

‘FAITH’ was pleasant if not a compelling segment of dance.