Sunday, July 29, 2007

Verb Ballet--July 29, 2007

Verb Ballets says goodbye to its premiere male dancer, Mark Tomasic

Verb Ballets, in its recent Cain Park concert, again proved why it is heralded as Cleveland’s National Repertory Dance Company. Presenting a program consisting of three company favorites and a world premiere, the corps generally danced with their usual proficiency. Everything was basically positive except for an awareness that this was the last paid concert appearance of Mark Tomasic, the company’s premiere male dancer.

Tomasic will retire and move to San Francisco shortly after Verb’s free concerts on Friday and Saturday, August 24 and 25, at 8 pm, Lincoln Park in Tremont, at Starkweather and West 14th St. (Rain date Sunday, August 26). His presence will be greatly missed since much of Verb’s repertoire centers around his strong dancing. The company now has the unenviable task of trying to replace Tomasic.

The Tremont program, which will include most of the Cain Park offerings include: ‘PLANET SOUP,’ ‘BOLERO,’ and ‘POLKA MADNESS.’

‘PLANET SOUP’ is a flowing, joyous, fast paced piece which is performed to the music of Afro Celt Sound System and Dead Can Dance. It contains a number of movement styles including Indian traditional, Irish reels and African rituals. Artistic Director Hernando Cortez has choreographed the dance to parallel to the ever-changing music. The high point of the program was the segment in which Jason Ignacio did fast paced tinkling, which is an authentic Filipino folk dance in which Ignacio steps between clapping poles.

When Heinz Poll decided to retire from Ohio Ballet, he gave rights to many of his choreographic portfolio to various organizations and dancers. ‘BOLERO,’ one of his most exciting pieces, was given to Xochitl Tejeda de Cerda. Many of those who hold the rights to the pieces grant permission to perform the choreography to various companies. The rights to ‘BOLERO’ have been granted to Verb Ballets. Their production, with restaging by Amy Miller of Groundworks Dance, is a sensual work, consisting of controlled movements, precise turns and flowing hand and arm actions. In one segment, using red capes, the dancers used the material to create a visual image much like a Chinese ribbon dance. The movement of the flowing material created an almost hypnotic effect. The conclusion of the piece was met with hushed silence and then a well deserved tremendous burst of applause.

‘WINGS AND AIRES,’ a duet also choreographed by Heinz Poll, and restaged by Jane Startzman, was presented by permission of Paul Ghiselin. A lovely flowing traditional ballet with modern movements, the number was beautifully danced by Catherine Meredith and Mark Tomasic.

Cleveland is known as the polka capital of America. Cortez choreographed a piece of dance to the live strains of the Johnny Koenig Orchestra based on music written by polka king Frankie Yankovic. The number, which may be forever identified as a “polka ballet,” was more of a nice diversion than a memorable dance. In spite of the fact that the dancing was not as polished as the usual Verb presentations, both the dancers and the audience seemed to have a good time.