If You Build It ...
A Review of Mixed Repertoire
The Atlanta Ballet’s spring repertoire at Atlanta’s Ferst Center for the Arts on May 9 and 10, opened with a magical piece by Associate Artistic Director, Timothy Cronin, Partnering Granados. Three couples floated about the stage as though at a lakeside pavilion on a cool, moonlit night - or autumn leaves, suspended aloft in the breeze. This is a sophisticated and timeless work. Rehearsed to flawless unison, Atlanta Ballet’s principal dancers wove a kaleidoscope of swirling images, delicately romantic - neither devoid of nor overcome with passion. The deceptively difficult and complex partnering was seamless - an effortless unity of dancers as couples and as an ensemble. Partnering (and three other works of the evening) enjoyed the painterly touch of resident Lighting Artist David Tatu, a master at evocative understatement. The marriage of Enrique Granados’ lyrical composition and a haunting performance by pianist Shirley Irek provided the foundation for this enchanting artistic experience. Impressions of Partnering return again and again, to delight and inspire.
Choreographer and company member Tara Lee followed with Sixteen String, a powerful modern work that was at once organic and balletic. Equine posturing elicited Nijinsky’s L’Apres Midi d’un Faun while Lou Harrison’s composition included what sounded like a steel-slide violin (a sixteen-string Chinese-type psaltery or Cheng) that - along with the choreographic style - brought images of oriental horses and warriors. Four powerful, earthbound female dancers intermingle with two males, defying gravity to the final grande jete. Sixteen highlights Atlanta Ballet’s enormous versatility - proving equally adept and impressive at demanding modern dance as they are at classical ballet.
The Pas de Deux from La Esmeralda, as re-choreographed by Houston Ballet’s Ben Stephenson, provided a delightful vehicle for the astonishingly talented prodigy, Kristine Necessary: her presence and her joyful enthusiasm were a delight. Ms. Necessary entered the company as a Trainee just three years ago; her balance and control on pointe are superb - and her technique should only get stronger. The choreography gave new legs to the old-world model of partner as chivalrous support. Layering on Mr. Stephenson’s playful atmosphere, Wei Dongsheng’s brought boyish charm to his long-expected virtuosic solo work and excellence in partnering.
Passages, choreographed by Diane Coburn Bruning, is a vaguely troubling piece. Naomi-Jane Dixon’s winsomeness and yearning in the beautifully performed opening solo is met by undercurrents of relationship control and struggle with Joe Roesner. If A Rose Falls, choreographed by Julia Adam, offered principals (and spouses) John Welker and Christine Winkler an opportunity to shine together. This highly innovative, whimsical contemporary ballet brought levity and variety to the evening and demonstrated Mr. Welker’s, as well as the ensemble’s, extraordinary versatility, surety and strength in all dance forms.
Atlanta Ballet is Built: John McFall, Tim Cronin, Sharon Story, Rosemary Miles and company have crafted an extraordinary organization of dancers, choreographers, teachers, musicians, and costume, set and lighting artists. “Mixed Rep” (mixed repertoire as opposed to evening length and/or story ballets) performances are often a favorite of dancers, but not so often successful with box office sales; however, the performances at the Ferst Center for the Arts had enthusiastic audiences calling out for more. Log on to www.atlantaballet.com for the summer performance schedule and the 2003-2004 season.
~ Scott Nilsson
Atlanta, Georgia - USA / 2nilssons.com
Copyright © 2002 by Scott Barricks Nilsson - All Rights Reserved
Scott Nilsson is a former dancer - a School of American Ballet (school of the New York City Ballet) Ford Foundation Grant recipient who trained under Ann Brodie at the original Columbia City Ballet, as well as at Interlochen Arts Academy, Indiana University School of Music, New York University Tisch School of the Arts and Indianapolis, Atlanta and New York.
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