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Russian Treasures: Indianapolis School of Ballet

by Rita Kohn
May 19, 2012
Indianapolis Scottish Rite Cathedral
650 N. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317-262-3100
This review was originally published in NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis, IN.

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Russian Treasures translates into Indianapolis jewels with a finely crafted rendering of four diverse pieces linked by Russian composers in the Indianapolis School of Ballet Spring Production. The entire company of pre-professional dancers and guest artists rose to the challenge of delivering distinctly different styles. Opening with Balanchine's 1967 "Valse-Fantaisie", five ballerinas in classical pink tulle moved in unison "in a whirl of perpetual motion" lifting Mikhail Glinka's music into space. The ballet delighted with something new happening within every blink of the eye.

Choreographer Roberta Wong injected speed and lightness into her modern dance premiere set on music by Tchaikovsky. "Allegro Vivace" was modern dance with overtures to classical arm extensions and curves as sixteen dancers shimmered in form fitting hues of sky blue, royal and magenta interweaving and encircling as if in a water ballet. Wong's choreography stood nicely alongside Balanchine with lively relationships constantly changing.

"Swan Lake's" Act II is the heart of famous ballet with the hunters coming upon the swans in the moment of transformation. Set to Tchaikovsky's score for the ballet, emotional intensity built with the opening unfurling of the Sorcerer's stage-filing glittering snake-skin wings. When Siegfried noticed Odette, his heart stopped and so did ours, and when Odette shrank into herself with fear we were thrust into our deepest hurt. Good and evil were in combat; intuitively Odette knew that to trust Siegfried's love was the only hope to break the spell yet the power was with the Sorcerer.

ISB graduate and guest artist Michelle Meltzer embodied Odette with every range of emotion. Victoria Lyras built upon original choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with outstanding staging for the corps of swans, leading swans and cygnets. The details of the setting and lighting were amazing, particularly when the Sorcerer seemingly emerged from a rock.

Changing pace to a celebratory series of dances embodying the breadth of Hungarian society, Act III of "Raymonda" was bright and sunbathed in contrast to "Swan Lake's" moonlit shadowing. Alexandre Glazounov's music is filled with joy and Petipa's original choreography layered variations with virtuosity. Lyras's staging and added choreography showcased the talent of each dancer in corps and as soloists. The Finale filled the stage with colors of glistening costumes and unbridled joyfulness as "Raymonda" took charge.

The entire program was stylish and rich. It's fun to observe the growth in graduates who return as guest artists, including Chris Lingner and Elizabeth Boxberger, and to watch the students move up in rank from corps to solo and principal roles. Costumes were by Loukia Finale, lighting designer was James Leitner, Paul Vitali was Ballet Master. More at http://indyballet.org.
Indianapolis School of Ballet in 'Swan Lake'.

Indianapolis School of Ballet in "Swan Lake".

Photo © & courtesy of Sonja Clark


Indianapolis School of Ballet in 'Swan Lake'.

Indianapolis School of Ballet in "Swan Lake".

Photo © & courtesy of Sonja Clark


Indianapolis School of Ballet in 'Swan Lake'.

Indianapolis School of Ballet in "Swan Lake".

Photo © & courtesy of Sonja Clark


Indianapolis School of Ballet in 'Swan Lake'.

Indianapolis School of Ballet in "Swan Lake".

Photo © & courtesy of Sonja Clark

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