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Varied pleasures
Festival Ballet’s latest ‘Up CLOSE on HOPE’
BY JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ

In their ambitious studio series, "Up CLOSE on HOPE," Festival Ballet Providence continues to offer premieres of emerging choreographers’ work, opportunities for new dancers to take the spotlight, and a chance for established choreographers, including artistic director Mihailo "Misha" Djuric, Gianni Di Marco, and Yves de Bouteiller, to have their work performed by well-seasoned dancers. The current program of 10 pieces by six choreographers will be presented November 19 at 7:30 pm and November 20 at 2:30 pm at the company’s studio, 625 Hope Street, Providence.

The 12 segments of de Bouteiller’s 1999 piece, Amadeus Variations, are set to Mozart’s variations on the French folk melody of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Steps and gestures closely echo the changes in tempo and mood of these playful inventions, including an allusion to the folk origins of the music with a tap of one toe behind the other, en pointe. New company member Alexander Akoulov has a chance to show his stuff, both solo and in duets with Karla Kovatch and Carolyn Dellinger. Heather O’Halloran and Daniela Debrot are an accomplished and engaging two-person corps.

Emily Bromberg and Andrew Skeels take the star turns in Grand Pas Classique, Gsovsky’s 1951 pas de deux, set to music by 19th-century opera composer Daniel-Francois Auber. The partnering challenges involve more balancing than lifting, plus a dozen fouettés by Skeels and a difficult series of relevés onto one toe by Bromberg. Newcomer Ryan Nye and Kovatch recreate the bittersweet tryst in Act II of Swan Lake, with a swan-like grace in Kovatch’s long limbs.

But it is the contemporary ballet pieces that pack an emotional wallop, beginning with another de Bouteiller from ’99. Nomads features Jennifer Ricci and Nye in shiny blue-toned leotards, to the music of Lisa Gerrard (who did the Whale Rider soundtrack). Here the music sounds Mideastern and the flowing arms are reminiscent of belly dancers. There’s tight, alluring partnering, bending into the curves of each other’s bodies, mirroring movements, and even doing floor splits as they hold onto each other.

Though it comes at the end of the evening, Gianni Di Marco’s Amphibious Love (2002) is the most mesmerizing for me, and not just from the irresistible pull of Buena Vista Social Club’s "Chan Chan." Vittorino and Leticia Guerrero exert the same pull, as the sensuous urgency of their interactions and the precision of their arching and sinuous lines make this dance over-the-top compelling.

Misha Djuric’s premiere, Tender Delusions, to Schubert, is similarly captivating, as it reflects on the necessary self-deceptions of lovers. The partnering is imaginative and innovative, as the two dancers (Ricci and Ty Parmenter) wrap around each other in unusual ways or simply fall into each other’s arms, in desperate need of support and affection.

Company member Piotr Ostaltsov titles his short piece after Belgian chanteur Salvatore Adamo’s most famous hit, "Tombe la Neige (The Snow Falls)," to which it’s set. This is a song of longing for an unrequited rendezvous, played out by Davide Vittorino as a Chaplinesque figure dressed in white, with a bright yellow bouquet. His yearnings are clear to the trio of flirtatious damsels who enter his daydream (Debrot, plus newcomers Courtney Fraga and Lauren Menger), but none takes him seriously and he must return to his melancholy longing.

Two young company members, Mark Harootian and Andrew Skeels, have drawn on contemporary music by Jude (Christobal) and Paul Hester, respectively, for their premieres of Let It Go For a While and After Hours. Harootian dances with Erica Chipp in his piece, which poignantly portrays the reluctance to end a relationship and the desire to cling to it, as the two shift back and forth in rapid-fire movements.

Skeels’s piece is set to techno-sounding music, with four dancers (himself, Nye, Parmenter, and newcomer Roger Fonnegra). In dark gray jumpsuits, they jerk heads, slap thighs, and twist toes into the floor as if popping and locking had spent the night with classical ballet. The dance remains balletic, but the loose limbs and quick stops and starts lend a hip-hop air.

 


Issue Date: November 18 - 24, 2005
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