Thursday, July 06, 2006

Verbs Ballets (Cain Park)

Verb Ballets presents another sold-out concert

No, it wasn’t a rock group or a nationally known entertainer at Cain Park. It was Verb Ballets presenting a dance concert. As has become the pattern at the company’s presentations, it was sold out.

Featuring the well-conceived choreography of Hernando Cortez, and the well disciplined dancing of his company, Verb has established itself as the “in” large dance company of Cleveland.

The Cain Park program, which had no overall title, was composed of four selections. The evening opened with ‘PRELUDE AND SIX EASY PIECES’ danced to the music of Jonathan Sheffer as recorded by pianist Michael Schneider. A quiet and lovely piece, the modern moves to the classical sounds was more soothing than compelling. The highlight segment was the “Prelude” duet by blonde and statuesque DeAnn Petruschke and powerful Mark Tomasic. “Prelude after Chopin” received a lovely interpretation by Catherine Meredith and Anna Roberts.

“SPEED (The Icarus Project)” is a delightful crowd pleaser based on the ‘SPEED RACER’ kid’s television show. It features Tomasic as Speed/Icarus and Danielle Brickman, Catherine Meredith and Anna Roberts as Wings/Trixie. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the piece.

‘BOLERO,” danced to the music of Ravel, and choreographed by the late Heinz Poll was created in 1996. The version presented was restaged by Amy Miller of the Groundworks company. The precise movements, done with closed eyes, found the performers dancing basically in place as their bodies moved to the sensual music. It was a brilliant presentation whose conclusion was met with a screaming response from the audience.

The first time I viewed ‘TWO HOURS THAT SHOOK THE WORLD,’ Cortez’s tribute to 9/11, I thought it failed to fully get the desired impact. Again, this time around, I found my mind wandering as the piece failed to command my full attention. My views appeared not to be personal as the audience’s response was polite applause.

In spite of its reputation, Verb Ballets may be at a crossroad. Their female company is excellent, but, their male corps is lacking. Except for Mark Tomasic, who it is rumored may soon be retiring, the company has no strong male dancers. Jason Ignacio is a good dancer, but because of his short stature, he is limited in the roles he can undertake. In the recent program, Christopher Morgan was brought in. Morgan does not fit well with the company’s style. He lacks the power and precision for Cortez’s choreography. It can only be hoped that Cortez will seek out some excellent male dancers. With the apparent demise of Ohio Ballet, there may be some of their corps, in particular the excellent Brian Murphy, who could fill the void.