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Rita Kohn
Studio Spotlight
Summer Study
multiple locations

Indianapolis School of Ballet 2015 Summer Intensive Showcase

by Rita Kohn
July 2, 2015
Indianapolis Artsgarden
Claypool Court, 110 W Washington St. Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 624-2563
Joyfulness translates into the audience even before the Indianapolis School of Ballet Summer Intensive Showcase begins. At the Indianapolis ArtsGarden, backstage is in full view. As the dancers assemble for the opening numbers, their faces show delight in spotting family and friends; then, in an instant, their collective focus is on listening for the music cue. A waft of blue floats on stage, a garden animates in playful leaps and configurations, bending and posing, stretching into high kicks and pausing. It's a waltz with an attitude and each dancer gives depth of character to the flower she's bringing to life.

Looking out of the wall-size window facing west onto Washington Street, to the left the audience sees the modern lines of the Hyatt Regency and of the JW Marriott; to the right we see the ornate façade of the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre and rounded rooftops of government buildings. The scene reverse telescopes itself onto the White River State Park treescape; the American flag breezes out in a direct line from center stage.

I think of architect Walter Blackburn as the first-up dancers frame this organic scene to the closing strains of Delibes' waltz. I imagine hearing him say, "Yes, that's the perfect portal for what's inside."

'What's inside' is a program of eleven other short dances across genres including classical and contemporary ballet, modern dance, folk and character, tap and Broadway show. Dancers range from pre-teen to pre-professional with a mix of first time and multiple-year returnees to the ISB annual Summer Intensive that brings instructors with international and national resumes to carry on the tradition of learning from the Masters.

What's most fun is watching the "off-stage" younger dancers mark the movements of the on-stage older dancers, suddenly taking on the posture of Spanish dancers arching and replicating triple stepping to the music of Tchaikovsky.

The most unexpected? Pint-sized cygnets in soft pink dresses in a modern dance version of the famously synchronized scene from Swan Lake, and upper level dancers recreating Gershwin on toe from dreamy sways to swaggy honky-tonk.

The most daring? Getting to that perfect moment for a family portrait to the music of Bach, and sequencing toward happy endings in 1001 Nights to a Strauss waltz and in Escape to the Secret Garden soundtrack.

Equally noteworthy during the ambitious program were recreations of Minkus' La Bayadere, Bach's Goldberg Variations and Well-tempered Clavier; Tchaikovsky's Danse Espagnole and new configurations of Tango and Celtic dances.

Choreography was by Coleen Rhea, Guo Ping Wang, Roberta Wong, Victoria Lyras, Scott Jovovich, Karen Scalzitti Kennedy and Paul Vitali.

Indianapolis School of Ballet next appears at Indy Eleven half-time Aug. 19 at Carroll Stadium at IUPUI.
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