West Wave Dance Festival, July 30

2 Aug

This two-choreographer program by Tina Kay Bohnstedt and Vikto Kabanaiev
was unusual fare for much seen at West Wave Festivals.  The two choreographers come from unusually distinguished training and professional experience. It very much showed,  providing a satisfying ninety minutes of excellent dancing.  Bohnstedt had one work in each half of the program, Kabanaiev two.

Bohnstedt trained at the Heinz Pohl Academy in Bavaria and spent the first
eight years of her professional career as a  Bavarian State Opera Ballet principal before personal interests brought her to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998. She joined Diablo Ballet in Walnut Creek, gracing it for a dozen seasons until an injury in 2011 required major surgery.  In 2007 she turned towards choreography, already having taught in the Diablo Ballet Outreach program, out of which she developed a Grand Prix finalist.  This September she becomes Houston Ballet’s  ballet mistress, where I trust she will be duly cherished.

A twin, Viktor Kabanaiev completed his ballet training at the Vaganova Institute during the last years of the Soviet Regime along with his brother Nikolai who now teaches at the Kirov Academy in Washington.  He has choreographed some 40 ballets for companies throughout the United States and some 60 for Youth America Grand Prix aspirants, with his works having been performed in Eastern and Western Europe as well as Japan.  He currently teaches in the Professional Program of Daly City’s Westlake School for the Performing Arts.

Two different sounds from Arvo Part were selected by Kabanaiev and Bohnstedt
followed by his solo to Jean Sibelius before intermission. To Part’s sedate  legato, Lauren Denney and Jennifer Bummer stretched, bent, postured, at times upending themselves aided by knee pads under the virginal white romantic length tutus attached to tunics heavily reinforced in the rib cage.  Given the stretches, lunges and knee  traveling, such precaution was well taken.  The movements’ anomaly vis-a-vis costumes was augmented by unpredictable black outs and spots over the stage.  Both dancers, as most others until the final number, danced in soft shoes. Denney and Bummer’s port de bras were beautiful and well phrased.

In 2010 to Part’s intense strings, Bohnstedt created Just Another Day for Jenna McClintock and David Fonnegra, who reprised the striking pas de deux of tension, empathy, argument and understanding in a relationship, ending in a dead heat.  The artists’ riveted  dancing illuminated  the ebb, flow and turbulence brilliantly.

Irene Liu, trained by Kabanaiev and Bohnstedt, danced Left Unsaid, set to Sibelius music.  Dressed in brown tunic and shorts, making it difficult to decide whether she was  fantasizing or remembering, her portrait of physical yearning and tactile evocation of a missing figure was convincing.

Following intermission, Fonnegra was joined by Darren Devaney in Bohnstedt’s
male duet to My Way, here to Frank Sinatra’s vocals.  Well matched in size,
Devaney’s beginning grand developpe a la seconde was a beauty, complimenting Fonnegra’s tighter, more dynamic attack.  Their execution was harmonious, given brief rehearsal time.

Kabanaiev’s Series of Unrelated Events utilized seven advanced dance students from Orange County Ballet Theatre, led by Dmitri and Jennifer Kulev. Their training has given their students  unusual aplomb and technical security.  The piece was crafted to give each several moments, displaying Sam Zaldivar and Marshall Whiteley as male principals in the making. Combining serious exposition with deliberate pratfalls, Kabanaiev’s humor made an adroit finale.

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