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Rita Kohn
Performance Reviews
Special Focus
Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University
United States
Indianapolis, IN

Butler Ballet Midwinter Dance Festival

by Rita Kohn
February 26, 2011
Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University
4602 Sunset Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46208
3 stars
Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University, Feb. 25-26

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Balanchine's "Walpurgisnacht Ballet" from Gounod's Faust was billed as the highlight, and visually the cast of 24 female dancers and one male dancer delivered a sumptuous ballet of wandering souls on the prowl for May Day revelry, attired in purples and lavenders, highlighted throughout with Laura E. Glover's re-construction of Mark Stanley's original lighting [for the May 15, 1980 premiere of the ballet at the New York State Theater]. The corps, including an ensemble of fluttering nymphs weaving silky smooth between the more solid shades, rose to Balanchine's contrasting attitudes of exuberant airborne versus coy seamless on-the-floor footwork through structured shapes in and out of shadows, culminating in a hair-down, ripped costume, throng of females wildly leaping and flailing around the bewildered lone male who initially joined a ballerina in demure white for what seemed like a lovely party scene. Erika Lily Rupp and Garrett Glassman, though technically interesting lacked the anticipated emotional intensity for what is considered Balanchine's premier romantically inflamed work. We did not feel their passion heating up only to waft into thin air. Deborah Wingert served as the Repetiteur for the Trust, which maintains the standards of Balanchine's choreography. The growing opportunity to experience Balanchine's works in Indiana gratefully is traced to the 2006 appointment of Michael Vernon as head of the Ballet Department of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the 2006 founding of the Indianapolis School of Ballet soon thereafter.

The program opened with Marek Cholewa's restaging of the Grand Pas de Deux from Chiaboukiani's La Bayadere. Heather Brustolon and Sean Sessions were elegant amidst richly flowing courtiers.
Susan McGuire choreographed "Church Song" to traditional Indonesian music as a 4-part modern dance work depicting aspects of life and emotional interactions.

"1st of 3 in 17" continues to be a signature work by Cynthia Pratt to music by Mozart. Fast-paced, its free-flowing sinewy lines and groupings grow out of each other for delightful surprises.

"Karelia Suite," choreographed by Stephan Laurent to music by Jan Sibelius, reflects the folklore and traditions of Finland through scenes earthbound and seemingly mythological.

"Hong," choreographed by Tong Wang to Mongolian folk songs, is a richly textured retelling of the return of swan geese to their home from their winter migration place. The leads and corps dancers excel in minute footwork, hand and arm gestures and body extensions and contractions to emulate the grace, beauty and delicacy yet strength of the birds, whose experiences are akin to humans in transition from place to place.
Butler Ballet Midwinter Dance Festival

Butler Ballet Midwinter Dance Festival

Photo © & courtesy of Brent Smith

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