Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Verb Ballets presents an evening of premieres at The Breen Center

Verb Ballets' Fall program, which was recently presented at the Breen Center, was an evening of premiers which were generally well danced and varied in visual illusions.

CLEVELAND FLATS SUITE, a sixteen-minute piece choreographed by Diane Gray, with music by Richard Rinehart, was a dual presentation. The dancers moved on stage, while a multi-media program, with graphics by Jay Horowitz, unreeled on the back wall. Both elements were effective on their own, but the combination was often distracting. It was hard to watch the dancers move in front of the visuals and pay attention to both. One often swallowed up the other.

The graphics flow took the viewer on a tour down the Cuyahoga River, under the many bridges, with shots of the various buildings, both those in use and those abandoned.

The dancers, whose moves generally fit the music, were well lighted by Trad Burns, but the lighting effects often worked in counter to the graphics. The corps movements were well executed.

REFLECTIONS, conceived by Artist-in-Residence Terence Greene, and danced by Greene and guest artist Michael Medcalf, portrayed an emotional male duet to a tender love song. Sensual energy permeated the powerfully danced number. This was the emotional highlight of the evening. It also showed what happens when strong male dancers control the stage. Too bad this duo are not regular members of the Verb company.

It's the month of Halloween and what author of the macabre better fits the season than Edgar Allan Poe. THE MYTH AND THE MADNESS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE is a tribute to the tortured life and mind who gave the world such writings as THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, Cask Of The Amontillado, HOUSE OF USHER, and THE RAVEN,

The musical selections did not consistently carry the tension and psychological turmoil needed to truly create the confused horror pulsing through Poe's head. This was a man surrounded by death and impending doom. His alcoholism, deep depression and his haunting ghosts were physically present in the dance, but not emotionally stirred by the music., which was generally anything but haunting. In spite of this, Brian Murphy, with intense flashing eyes and strong physical moves, proficiently danced the role of Poe. Stephanie Krise as the Principal Raven, moved smoothly on point to interject torture into the writer's life. The hovering ravens were a constant reminder of “Nevermore.”

Capsule judgement: Verb Ballets' fall program was an interesting blend of dance messages and choreographic styles. It made a appealing evening, highlighted by REFLECTIONS and the dynamic performances of Terence Greene and Michael Medcalf.