Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Verb Ballets-2/09

Verb Ballets back on pointe! Coming dance attractions.

During most of the past seven years, Verb Ballets was one of the most exciting dance venues in the area. Then, about a year and-a-half ago, they seemed to lose their focus. The programs seemed disorganized and the dancers seemed to be going through the motions. They lost company members and did not replace them.

A change in artistic management took place, dancers were added and deleted, and it has done a world of good. The company’s recent program, presented as part of the Chagrin Arts 2009 Winter Series and performed at Chagrin Falls High School’s beautiful Performing Arts Center, was a return to the shining days of the past. The company’s pieces ranged from traditional ballet, to contemporary and modern dance, to a youth-centered offering, to the late Heinz Poll’s ‘BOLERO.’ All were well performed. There was precision and a renewed positive attitude.

The opening piece, ‘VESPERS,’ choreographed by Ulysses Dove, with restaging by Dawn Carter, was a disciplined work, centering around a series of chairs, which were sat on, jumped on and over, straddled, and balanced upon. Based on the passions and the spirituality of women who have faith, it was danced to the music of Mikel Rouse.

Brian Murphy, one of the best male dancers in the area, was splendid as the solo performer in David Dearling’s ‘DARK WOOD.’ He displayed complete body control as he moved with assurance and power . This was a tour de force.

‘PETER AND THE WOLF’ was danced to the vocal narration of the late Leonard Bernstein and the recorded music of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” which uses a musical instrument to represent each of the animals and the people in the piece. For example, the flute represented the bird; the oboe, the duck; the clarinet, the cat; and grandfather was showcased by the bassoon. The delightful interpretation by Pamela Pribisco was well costumed by Gino Ventura. Though the pacing of the piece was a little languid, the children in the audience seemed delighted through out.

Jennifer Moll Safonovs and Brian Murphy, added grace and beauty to the program, dancing Heinz Poll’s ‘classically conceived ANDANTE SOSTENUTO.’ The pas de deux, set to Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 2, was a visual delight as the duo performed floating lifts, alert partnering, and smooth classic movements with ease and assurance.

The program ended with the spirited ‘BOLERO,’ complete with the waving cloaks of the bull fight. The conclusion was met with an enthusiastic and well deserved standing ovation from the sizeable crowd.
Capsule judgement: Welcome back Verb Ballets!