Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ballet Memphis


Memphis emphatically basically moved to the Cleveland area this month. PlayhouseSquare presented the Broadway smash MEMPHIS, THE MUSICAL at the Palace Theatre to large and enthusiastic audiences. Then, DANCECleveland brought BALLET MEMPHIS to town for what turned out to be a delightful evening of ballet at the Ohio Theatre. The large appreciative audience experienced an honest performance by some fine young dancers.

BALLET MEMPHIS is a mid-sized dance company noted for performing full-length story pieces. No, it is not a world class company. However, their young and enthusiastic dancers were up to the task of telling the tales and showing off their city’s culture and historical base: being the hometown of Elvis, performing as a major influencer of rock-and-roll, housing the famous Beale Street, hosting the slave markets and civil rights battles, and where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

The program consisted of BEING HERE WITH OTHER PEOPLE, danced to the classical music sounds of Beethoven’s Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 6, which stressed the natural capacity of people to experience joy. CURTAIN OF GREEN, danced to the atonal music of Phillip Glass, was an interpretation of southern icon writer Eudora Welty’s short story, which is a glimpse of love, fear, and madness. S'epanouir centered on a woman who was in the depths of an emotional crisis until her community aids and lifted her to a transformation.
The program ended with IN DREAMS, performed to a grouping of passionate Roy Orbison songs.

Capsule judgement: With no professional ballet company in Cleveland, it was a nice diversion to see the balletic dance form presented by BALLET MEMPHIS in what turned out to be a very pleasant program.