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Richmond Ballet at the Joyce

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

Richmond Ballet at the Joyce

Richmond Ballet
(www.richmondballet.com)

Presented at the Joyce Theatre
New York, NY
(www.joyce.org)

Artistic Director: Stoner Winslett

Company: Igor Antonov, Jesse Bechard, Danaë Carter, Anne Sidney Davenport, Christopher Faesi, Lauren Faogne, Katherine Gansman, Kirk Henning, Jason Henschen, Katherine Lynch, Jenna McClintock, Phillip Skaggs, Pedro Szalay, Valerie Tellmann

Managing Director: Keith Martin
Artistic Associate, Ballet Master: Malcolm Burn
Artistic Associate, School of Richmond Ballet Director: Judy Jacob
Education Director: Brett Bonda
Production Director: MK Stewart
Kevin P. McAnarney/KPM ASSOCIATES: General Press Associate

By Jennifer E. Wesnousky
April 9, 2005

Program A:

NUEVO TANGO: Choreography by William Saleau, Music by Astor Piazzola, Costume Design by A. Christina Giannini, Lighting Design by MK Stewart, Performed by Anne Sidney Davenport and Igor Antonov plus Danaë Carter, Christopher Faesi, Lauren Fagone, Thomas Garrett, Katherine Lynch, Kirk Henning, Valerie Tellmann and Pedro Szalay.

Their silhouetted figures poised atop stools against a red backlit background, the dancers in Nuevo Tango immediately established the piece's Latin flare. Creatively utilizing these props throughout, the audience felt transported to some moody, exotic tavern, although the women's identical deep-red dresses alluded more to Spanish flamenco than to the tango suggested by the title of the piece. And, the movement in Nuevo Tango portrayed a study of modern ballet which only occasionally mimicked the Argentine dance.

William Saleau's choreography, in fact, seemed sometimes slow in contrast to Piazzola's frenetic nuances and pacing. While perhaps his choreographic intention, the technically excellent dancers' downcast gazes begged for more passionate facial interaction with an audience who could have been left longing for more.

Nuevo Tango was aesthetically pleasing, however, and performed quite well; particularly in a triumphant-feeling scene in which the men occupied one side of the stage with the women on the other. Excellently executed (albeit slightly repetitive) lifts revealed the women's elegant arabesques in an especially effective segment in which the five couples initially performed in unison with subsequent seg-ways into individualized steps.

A MAIDEN'S HYMN: Choreography by Jessica Lang, Music by Franz Schubert String Quartet N. 12 in D Minor "Death and the Maiden", Costume Design by Susan Cologne, Lighting Design by MK Stewart, Performed by Jenna McClintock (The Maiden), Igor Antonov (Death (Cruel)), Pedro Szalay (Death (Comfort)) and Phillip Skaggs (Lover) plus Katherine Gansman, Katherine Lynch, Jesse Bechard and Jason Henschen.

Any lack of passion in the prior piece was immediately made up for in A Maiden's Hymn, which strikingly utilized a variety of elements to relay its intriguing storyline. While Jessica Lang's fiery choreography made intricate, energetic use of Franz Schubert's music, appropriately entitled Death and the Maiden, Susan Cologne's costumes (Deaths' bright red and blue unitards in contrast with the "live" dancers' gray frocks) forced the audience to contemplate the extent to which the faces of death may, at times, appear brighter than life.

This seemed to be the case for The Maiden herself as Jessica McClintock danced compellingly, torn between her earthly Lover and two conflicting representations of Death as Comfort or something Cruel (enchantingly danced by Pedro Szalay and Igor Antonov, respectively). Despite finding safety in her Lover's arms and initially carousing gaily with her comrades, Death and the Maiden grappled both choreographically and thematically with the allure and aspects of the other side

STREETS AND LEGENDS: Choreography by Colin Connor, Music by Alisdair Fraser, Ashley MacIsaac and Paul Machlis, Costume Design by Charles Schoonmaker, Original Lighting Design by Stacie Johnson, Lighting Design by MK Stewart, Performed by Danaë Carter, Jesse Bechard, Lauren Fagone, Christopher Faesi, Katherine Gansman, Kirk Henning, Jenna McClintock, Jason Henschen, Valerie Tellmann and Phillip Skaggs.

Streets and Legends was a frenetic stylistic fusion of hip rolls, jazzy kicks, isolations, gymnastic endeavors and even some seemingly Middle Eastern-influenced undulations. Prevalent throughout, however, was the Celtic, jig-type feel of both the music, by Alisdair Fraser, Ashley MacIsaac and Paul Machlis and of Colin Connor's choreography.

With an initially red backdrop which shifted drastically to bright yellow, both the lighting and eclectic, multi-patterned costumes contributed to the piece's funky feel. In contrast to Nuevo Tango's elegance and A Maiden's Hymn surrealism, Streets and Legends demonstrated the Richmond Ballet's ability to be in the moment as they let loose, enjoyed themselves and performed. At their most present by far, the dancers connected intensely and aggressively with the audience who applauded wildly as both the number and the evening wound to an energetic end.

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