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Plaza del Sol Performance Hall
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La Danserie's Carte Blanche

by Joanne Zimbler
February 11, 2011
Plaza del Sol Performance Hall
18111 Nordhoff Street.
Northridge, CA 91330-8393
818-677-2488
La Danserie's presentation of "Carte Blanche" on Friday night gave its dancers the unconditional authority to wow and amaze in its pared down, back-to-basics performance, prioritizing movement and simplicity over complex themes and dynamic sets. After thirteen years in Los Angeles, the company continues to build on its reputation and secure a place as one of LA's finest dance companies. Friday night's show revealed the company's continuing innovation in ballet, incorporating contemporary themes as well as nurturing local talent. And in addition to sampling works by company regulars, we were also treated to the young talent of two youth academies - Maple Leaf Ballet and The Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Affiliated with La Danserie as a dancer and choreographer, Nicole Mathis offered a debut piece entitled "Sirenum Scopuli" which highlighted strong pointe work and fluid movements as three sirens interacted with female mariner Tatiana A'Virmond. Four gifted dancers, moving classically to the music of Phillip Glass, prepared us for the subsequent pleasure and delight inspired by the energy and technique of the company's talented dancers.

"Synchronic" was a triumph for The Idyllwild Academy of Arts as two pas de deuxs were performed simultaneously. In nude color tights and unitards the pairs moved elementally, eschewing exuberant lifts for tender, yearning, lilting port de bras. An evocative flute sonata by Bach accompanied the dancers, collaborating in promoting a nostalgia for the innocence of young love.

"All that Glitters" starkly illustrated La Danserie's easy marriage of modern and ballet. Bursts of modern dance erupted from balletic movements as fluttering hands transitioned into arabesques; pique turns yielded to unexpected hip and shoulder undulations; pirouettes lead to skipping, creating a surprisingly robust lyrical tableau.

A spirited production commenced next with big noise and big energy while an assemblage of young dancers flooded the stage. Maple Youth Ballet gleefully pranced and frolicked, all on pointe, to the rhythm of George Gershwin. In sweeping grand jetes, dancers bounded on and off stage as the music crescendoed and abruptly stopped. Giggles and whispering filled the auditorium as the audience sat bewildered by the darkness and empty stage. Moments later, our anxiety was allayed as the dancers returned, beginning again, not the least demoralized - except this time, the music stopped again and the dancers did not return, but did reappear again to complete the performance after the next dance "Mouvance."

On the background screen behind the dancers in "Mouvance," two juxtaposed images of a baby and a woman looked out at us. Four dancers in ballet shoes romped playfully as the music quieted at times and the sounds of people laughing and talking on the recording could be heard. With hair down, smiling faces and bodies clad in nightie type costumes, a sweet domestic sensibility exuded from the cavorting bodies as the dancers tumbled, integrating cartwheels and somersaults into the exultant piece.

Artistic director Patrick Frantz's ushered us back from intermission with another piece showcasing the young talent from the Idyllwild Arts Academy. "Whimsies" explored the "interaction between the dancers and the choreographer and the bond of creativity that links them." In the bona fide classical piece the girls testified to the complexity of the unique relationship between choreographer and dancer as well as teacher and student as we witnessed the burgeoning ballerinas exhibit their prowess manifesting the vision of a veteran dancer.

A controversial white skirt, an elusive boy, and a melanchonic mood opened "sight unseen." Judy Pisarro-Grant has created a compelling meditation on the fractured nature of women's relationships with one another as external pressures bear down. We watched as the dancers took turns wearing the skirt and the tension between them increased, all while revealing the object's divisive power. As the sartorially bereft girls moved in synch with one another, the one in possession of the skirt would move separately until finally the cause of the competition was abandoned and wrenching movements gave way to a spirited celebration of the accord among the now unified women. Once in alliance, the revelry began as they leaped joyously in a blended performance of balletic and modern movements, relieved of the alienating skirt.

After an examination of the rifts that often estrange women from one another, "Complexity of Love" examined the vagaries of romantic relationships. From Rei Aoo's Dance planet, two lovers' undulating bodies lunged and recoiled, reflecting the push pull nature typical of a fledgling relationship. From ecstatic allegric movements to poignant, desperate modern entreaties for attention, Angelina Dezaki climbed on and pleaded with Junji Dezaki (her real life husband?) to notice her. After his initial rejection, the two finally came together as love flourished in a tender pas de deux followed by two vanishing silhouettes disappearing upstage.

Avarice and aggression animated the dancers of "Reach, Angle, and Flow". In quick sharp movements, men in suits, and one similarly donned woman moved angrily, while defiant women on pointe turned and kicked in punctuated movements. The dance, with its suits, green background, frenzied movements, and fast paced music suggested a cutthroat climate with Type A workers - on Wall Street perhaps - turning on each other in a commentary on the greed resulting from of the lack of humanity that often coexists with capitalism. The gift of the dancers for embodying such characters had a chilling effect, creating a palpably unsettling mood. Fortunately, humanity prevailed as a male dancer finally realized his humanity and submitted to a woman's tender embrace.

La Danserie has once again reaffirmed its place in Los Angeles' artistic landscape and with its unwavering commitment to the arts, the company continues to prove to be an important force in the cultivation of young talent while providing a home for the city's artistic elite.
La Danserie in Patrick Frantz's 'Partita'

La Danserie in Patrick Frantz's "Partita"

Photo © & courtesy of Aaron Cota


La Danserie in Patrick Frantz's 'Partita'

La Danserie in Patrick Frantz's "Partita"

Photo © & courtesy of Aaron Cota


La Danserie in Patrick Frantz's 'Partita'

La Danserie in Patrick Frantz's "Partita"

Photo © & courtesy of Aaron Cota


La Danserie in Judy Pisarro-Grant's 'sight unseen'

La Danserie in Judy Pisarro-Grant's "sight unseen"

Photo © & courtesy of Aaron Cota


La Danserie in Judy Pisarro-Grant's 'sight unseen'

La Danserie in Judy Pisarro-Grant's "sight unseen"

Photo © & courtesy of Aaron Cota


La Danserie in Nicole Mathis' 'Sirenum Scopuli'

La Danserie in Nicole Mathis' "Sirenum Scopuli"

Photo © & courtesy of Aaron Cota

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