Archive for March, 2012


March 17, 2012

Last night Cincinnati Ballet’s “Rite of Spring” proved that ballet can be relevant in today’s world.

pictured above: Cincinnati Ballet resident choreographer Adam Hougland

To me, the dancers were nothing short of fabulous in three diverse offerings. The audience at last night’s opening seemed to agree. And, it’s big news in New York City that the Paul Taylor Dance Company cannot afford live music. But Cincinnati Ballet has been extraordinarily lucky in their ability to use the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under longtime music director Carmon DeLeone.

Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” was magnificently presented, with full dynamic range and attack from 70 musicians in the expanded pit. Strong choreography from Adam Hougland starred Courtney Connor, whose emotion and movement quality commanded the stage in her role as Chosen One.

pictured above: Courtney Connnor

The bill opener, Val Caniparoli’s “Vivace,” set to an equally well-performed Schubert Symphony, was all stamina, lightness and wit, in a displayof  petite allegro and various configurations  designed to warm any balletomane’s heart. It reminded me of one of those exquisite Swiss watches that display their intricate workings through a transparent face. Standouts were Gema Diaz, Zack Grubbs, Dawn Kelly, Liang Fu, Danielle Bausinger and Patric Palkens. But wait, the corps in this one (too many to name) left me breathless in admiration!

In Stacey Tookey’s world premiere “Oneself Perceived” we were shuttled into a modern world where couples embarked into relationships that seemed fated to end badly. Yet, in a silhouette pas de deux episode behind a scrim, it seemed that Maizyalet Velazquez as a misused woman was able (through the magic of perspective) to shrink her tormenter (Zack Grubbs) and emerge triumphant.

Hm, it’s early  in the am here, and I must go ahead and post. I hope I didn’t miss anything important, but point is, there is a matinee today and an evening show left for this production. If you haven’t figured it out already, I highly recomment you attend.

posted 3/17/12 at 5:42 am



March 16, 2012

pictured above: Dawn Kelly’s tidy bun at one of last season’s Ballet and Beer previews

Cincinnati Ballet soloist Dawn Kelly, a twelve year veteran of the company, is one of my favorite dancers. This weekend, she will be dancing in choreographer Val Caniparoli’s “Vivace,” one of three works on the program including Adam Hougland’s “Rite of Spring.” The program takes place at downtown Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center, and features the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under music director Carmon DeLeone in two of the three ballets on the bill.

Because of injuries in the company (principal Sarah Hairston is babying a recovering knee, and principal Janessa Touchet has a broken toe) and another mishap that’s prevented a Tulsa Ballet dancer from filling in for them, there has been a last minute shuffling of roles amid the more healthy dancers.

Dawn is one of them.

“It’s a little stressful,” she acknowledges, “but it’s kind of what we do – it happens.

“In ‘Vivace,’ I was originally cast in the corps, but there are three pas de deux couples. If I had been an understudy, I would have at least known the role, but I wasn’t . . . so I learned my role just last Friday. Oddly, the corps was physically harder in a way. Yes, the pas steps are more difficult, but in the corps, you never stop, you just keep going and going and going . . .

“I learned it and now I’m doing every show – so, you know, it’s a bit of pressure all of a sudden to be doing opening night with something you just learned on Friday. But again, that’s part of the excitement, I guess, and I guess filling in for the unexpected injury is part of our job description.

“’Vivace’ means a lot of energy. [The short ballet is said to be an elegant, non-narrative nod to ballet classicism set to Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 2 in B flat.]  Val Caniparoli is a fabulous choreographer.”

Energy is certainly what it takes for the cast members to get through the final rehearsals before opening. Listen as Dawn describes yesterday (dress rehearsal):

“We did class at 11:45 until 1:15 at the theater. Then we had a fifteen minute break. From 1:30 to 4:30 with no costumes or makeup, we teched everything with lights and just ran the show in our normal dance clothes that we wear every day. Then, between 4:30 and 6:30 was our dinner break. Depending on what you have to do, you can’t always eat a lot. You have to be careful what you eat, too, because you only have two hours to digest! 

“Then we went through the whole thing again at 6:30 with costumes, lights, makeup, and orchestra. That’s the dress rehearsal. And then . . . we come home, go to bed, and Friday morning wake up and do it all again. Except there’s more pressure:  Friday is opening night! And Friday afternoon also includes a dress rehearsal for a couple of people who switch out in roles. It is like Cast B’s dress rehearsal.”

Wow, I tell her. You guys are right on the edge, aren’t you? Then I ask a key question, one that is very interesting to me, because in my own dancing career the moment before I stepped onto stage was almost always fraught with anxiety. Yes, I was a victim of horrible stage fright until I got out there. My mind was in a panic, as I desperately thought of anything that might get me out of having to perform.

So what goes through her mind in those same moments?

“For me, when it’s showtime, I tell myself to relax and let go and trust that my body knows what to do, and I tell myself I have perfect strength and confidence in myself. I cross my fingers and say to myself ‘let me have a great show.’”

Gee, if I had only known how simple it could all be!


March 1, 2012

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