Archive for January, 2013

Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2012, 3:01 AM

Wednesday night’s BalletX season opener at the Wilma Theater began as dark and stormy onstage as it was outside. But the program grew progressively lighter and more serene, and ended with its loveliest and most upbeat work, the Philadelphia premiere of Switch Phase, by BalletX co-artistic director Matthew Neenan.

The evening also featured world premieres by two guest choreographers. Mauro Astolfi’s Instant God, for the full company, posits that people would like to have a personal “god” to fix everything in life – in a snap. He expressed this through confrontation, tensions, movement phrases frustrated by awkward endings, all underpinned by Notfromearth’s soundscape of rain and dissonant noise.

The women were all in Martha Chamberlain’s little dark sheaths, the men in street clothes, and all wore socks, the better to slide when pushed along by another dancer. Struggling entanglements of small to large groups and oppositional moves filled much of the dance. Astolfi’s sensuous, offbeat use of musicality and William Cannon’s solo – all about off-center backward falls and lunges – were the spine of this dance.

Philadelphian Kate Watson-Wallace, known for small site-specific works, made I Was at a Party and My Mind Wandered Off. . . . In the second work of hers for the stage I’ve reviewed in two years, she once again created a scene, this one a party winding down. Colby Damon and Jared Brunson lean into each other like boxers in the ring in the 10th round. Three women in white, their hair hanging over their eyes, rotate their shoulders. And all harmonize a song as they circle into and out of the larger group, ending with a wild last dance.

Neenan’s Switch Phase was the most accomplished piece on the program, but the company had had time to absorb it fully since premiering it last summer in Vail. To music recorded by the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, the dancers oscillate around each other like celestial bodies moving through space. Allison Walsh straddles Cannon’s prone body as he snaps his torso up to her. When Walsh later slices her arm up the side of Cannon’s neck, he grasps her hand before she can pull it away.

The most poignant section was a tango with newcomer Richard Villaverde and retiring Tara Keating. If you’ve loved watching this adorable vamp-next-door dancer over the last 15 years, first at Pennsylvania Ballet and then with BalletX, you’ll be as sad to see her leave the stage as I am.

Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer
Posted: Saturday, December 15, 2012, 3:01 AM
Ovations, spiked with wolf whistles, erupted throughout much of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo’s Thursday night opening Dance Celebration program at the Annenberg Center.

And the Trocks, as they affectionately call themselves, shamelessly cadged for more. Even during the final poignant moments of his solo – Mikhail Fokine’s Dying Swan, to the famous Saint-Saëns music – Roberto Forleo, as Marina Plezegetovstageskaya, lifted his false eyelashes and furled his manicured fingertips, hustling for applause. But with his feathers flying, his chicken-walk deserved kudos.

His? But you knew the Trocks were an all-male ballet troupe, didn’t you? And they dance en pointe, which can’t be easy for some of the more jock-like body types. But the nearly 40-year-old company, with its ever-evolving corps, makes it seem so. With perfect port de bras and willowy arms, not only do they bourrée on tippy-toe to and fro and turn multiple fouettés, they leap like frolicking lords.

They began with their (in)famous Swan Lake, Act II. Paolo Cervellera, as Viacheslav Legupski, is Von Rothbart, running in circles, cape unfurled and with short dreads bouncing behind his bandanna-covered head. Was it he who kicked one of the cygnets over? No matter, these dancers recover from pratfalls and sideswipes with professional poise. In the famous synchronized quartet with arms en chaine, three cygnets carry on while one on the end does her own thing.

Raffaele Morra (Lariska Dumbchenko) as the Swan Queen Odette, falls (literally) for Prince Siegfried (Trystan Merrick as Mischa Youloustski) giving the coup disgrace to Rothbart.
But later, in the Black Swan Pas de Deux, Rothbart (now Giovanni Ravelo as Marat Legupski) wins out by confusing the Prince with Odile, danced uncannily by Chase Johnsey as Yakatarina Verbosovich. Here, Carlos Hopuy (Innokenti Smoktumuchsky) takes over as the Prince and gives astonishing ballon with his jetés.

In Go for Barroco, a quartet in simple black frocks take on Balanchine (Ballandchain – appellation mine) variations – speedwalking and circling in wide third position demi-pliés.
Laurencia had a Spanish theme, all triple-tiered skirts, mantilla combs, and toreador pants.
The robust Robert Carter (Olga Supphozova) danced Laurencia with countless fouettés, and Paolo Cervellera (Tino Xirau Lopez) wowed with his long series of barrel turns.

By opening with Swan Lake, the Trocks gave away too much, too early. But they make you laugh with them, not at them, and are truly a holiday hoot.


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