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Rita Kohn
Performance Reviews
Ballet
United States
Indiana
Indianapolis, IN
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New York, New York - Indiana University Jacobs School of Ballet

by Rita Kohn
March 26, 2011
Indianapolis, IN
4 ½ stars
Indiana University Jacobs School of Ballet, Musical Arts Center, March 25-26

This review was originally published in NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis, IN.

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Bold programming brought three iconic works together for an aesthetic tour de force of dance 1936-1976. IU School of Ballet dancers proved their mettle presenting Paul Taylor's modern dance, Anthony Tudor's story ballet and George Balanchine's fusion of ballet/musical theatre, with an outstanding live orchestra and soloists, conducted by Stewart Kershaw, adding to the thrill of the program.

Twelve dancers moved seamlessly in and out of the complexities of Taylor's Cloven Kingdom [1976] merging our animalistic instincts with expected behaviors during a black tie social event. Layering and interspersing athleticism onto graceful lines is simultaneously amusing and thought provoking, heightened by music by Arcangelo Corelli, Henry Cowell and Malloy Miller.

Tudor's highly theatrical 1936 ballet Lilac Garden grows from Ernest Chausson's Poem for Violin and Orchestra as the story of a woman dealing with the consequences of an arranged marriage of convenience. Brette Benedict, Christopher Scruggs, Iver Johnson and Laura Whitby brought authoritative technique and superb acting/miming qualities to the leading roles, and eight supporting dancers were equally perfect, timing entrances and exits, building dimensional characters and plumbing psychological impacts of thwarted true love. Benjamin Hoffman's solo violin plumbed emotional depths.

Who Cares? [1970] set on 16 songs composed by George Gershwin traces Balanchine's arc out of a period of personal loss and was created nearly four decades after Gershwin originally asked Balanchine to choreograph a film. Gershwin died before the project reached fruition. With a nod to Fred Astaire, Balanchine combined the lines of ballet with the verve of show dancing to the score adapted and orchestrated by Hershey Kay. Featuring pianist Susan Chou, four principal dancers, a corps de ballet of ten women and five couples, Who Cares? is a fun-filled romp across New York City.

IU's ability to bring in original company dancers and directors to stage the work on students provides an amazing opportunity for continuity of dance heritage.
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