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Ballet Austin

by Jennifer Wesnousky
October 9, 2005
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
212-242-0800

BALLET AUSTIN

The Joyce Theater, New York, NY, October 5-9, 2005
www.joyce.org

Jennifer Wesnousky
October 9, 2005

Steven Mills' choreography in all three of the pieces performed by Ballet Austin at the Joyce Theater on the evening of Sunday, October 9, 2005, was rife with subtle innovation. It was no wonder then that no set or special effects were necessary, for Wills' aesthetic eye and the performers' clean execution spoke for themselves.

While the dancers sometimes moved in unison in "ONE/THE BODY'S GRACE," its most captivating moments occurred when they hit tableaus in most interesting formations, sometimes resembling waterfalls which flowed forth from a central point while utilizing a variety of levels and lines. The dancers' barely-there costumes- the tiniest of burnt orange hot pants and clinging muscle tees- could have seemed shocking were it not for the sinewy perfection of each of the company member's frames. Comprised of three pas de deuxs, the piece showcased not only an electric intertwining of the dancers themselves, but also a fusion of forms encompassing not only ballet and modern, but also such tango-esque movements as colgadas (turning hangs) and volcadas (leaning, "spilling" movements) as well as gymnastic and partner yoga-inspired walkovers and rolls. Lightning speed spins and bourrées and and flowing, Swan Lake-style flutters of the arms made the third couple, Gina Patterson and Jim Stein, particularly stand out.

In contrast to the first number's coyness and serenely operatic score, the music and mood of the painfully effective "ASHES" made the audience experience its doom and gloom. Clad in even more clinging costumes in sheer white, the mood of the piece was anything but light as Mills utilized movements whereby the dancers often appeared to be in agony- the tormented, frenetic clutching of stomachs and covering of faces. Time and time again, one writhing dancer was spotlighted center stage as the others paraded around him or her in a circular formation, representing, according to the evening's Playbill, the "circle of life" through which human beings enter and finally depart from the world. The performers' interactions with one another within the circle ranged from comforting to confrontational throughout Mills' intricate choreography, incorporating striking slow-motion sequences and partnering sections in which the girls appeared to float through the air, perched effortlessly upon their partners. The dancers repeatedly collapsed as if their physical or emotional demons had overcome them, sometimes dragging one another across the floor like soldiers on a battlefield, only to be resurrected momentarily.

However, while extremely well-thought-out and performed, "ASHES" did leave the audience's mood in need of resurrection, which is just what the evening's final piece did.

Despite employing similarly pale costumes to those which were worn in "ASHES," the performance's finale, "DESIRE AND THREE MOVEMENTS," flashed not only bright green and scarlet backlighting, but the first appearance of the dancers' brilliant smiles as well. Beginning with a passionate partnering segment in which one couple appeared to be in the early, desperate and contemplative stages of love, the piece later erupted with upbeat energy as additional dancers exploded onto the scene. Executing Mills' unique unison jumps, tours and modern-infused body rolls and aerial lifts, "DESIRE…" ended the performance of the Ballet Austin on a refreshingly joyous note.

Artistic Director/Choreographer: STEVEN MILLS
Executive Director: COOKIE RUIZ
Associate Artistic Director: MICHELLE MARTIN
Production Director: BILL SHEFFIELD
Company Manager: EUGENE ALVAREZ
Dancers: Allen J. Abrams, Christopher bender, Paul Michael Bloodgood, Margot Brown, Orlando Julius Canova, Anthony Casati, Matthew Cotter, Reginald Harris, Aaron Krumpe, Ashley Lynn, Anne Marie Melendez, Eric Midgley, Allisyn Paino, Gina Patterson, Frank Shott, Jim Stein, Beth Terwilleger, Michelle Thompson, Lisa Washburn, Jaime Lynn Witts
General Press Representative: Kevin P. McAnarney/KPM ASSOCIATES
GRW Advertising Marketing Representative: Ed Ronk
Costume design: Christopher McCollum, Jorge Gallardo
Lighting Design: Tony Tucci

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