Tag Archives: Astor Piazolla

Diablo Ballet’s Twenty-First Gala, March 26

6 Apr

At the Lesher Center for the Arts March 26 Diablo Ballet danced its 21st anniversary performance before supporters and dancers retired to Scott’s Garden for a gathering which garnered Contra Costa County’s oldest ballet ensemble with more than $50,000.

I don’t normally participate in such fiscal enterprises, but thanks to transportation arrangements with Richard and Elizabeth Green Sah, I enjoyed a Miller of Dee exposure. In the process I reconnected with poet Gary Soto and his wife Carolyn, with whom I shared a publishing series of classes at U.C. Extension with the late Jean Louis Brindamour, Ph.D. Missing them from the company’s roster I learned that Hiromi Yamasaki and Maya Sugano have each recently given birth to daughters.

Starting at 6:30, the 21st program featured three revivals or reconstructions, two pieces created by current company dancers and one series of images titled Aeterna XXI, following each other with just a short pause.

David Fonnegra’s piece, a pas de deux to Felix Mendelssohn’s “Song Without Words” was danced by Tetyana Martyanova and Fonnegra. Martyanova’s credits were listed as companies in Odessa, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Tania Perez-Salas Compania de Danza. I found her costume, a long black tunic with slits disconcerting; despite several slits, the length interfered; – just when a phrase reached its completion, there was this distracting black strip, making Fonnegra’s partnering seem labored, distorting line.

A second choice of Mendelssohn was made by Robert Dekkers, performed by Janet Witharm, Cello; Philip Santos, Violin and Aaron Pike, piano. Under the titleSee Saw seven dancers participated in a semi-abstract classical one act. Dekkers is skillful, adept in movement choices, save one noticeable blooper; to fill musical phrases when the strings engaged in extended arabesques. Dekker required the dancers to wave their fingers with a slight flop to the palm, appearing tacked on and extraneous.

Opening the program was the Balanchine pas de deux from Apollo where he and Terpsichore connect, danced by Christian Squires and Sandrine Cassini, a French contribution. Both small, compact, they were well suited to each other, but the snippet was all too short.

Joanna Berman restaged Hamlet and Ophelia, the pas de deux Val Caniparoli created for Berman in 1985 early in her San Francisco Ballet career to Bohuslav Martinu’s music. Dedicated to Lew Christensen’s memory, the work makes much of a lengthy cloak which Hamlet (Squires) wears as he makes his way from upstage left to downstage right. Ophelia flutters around and is strong armed once by Hamlet in a menacing pas de deux. Clearly a teen-ager who hasn’t much of a clue, the bourrees and port de bras, like chicken wings. clue the audience to the inevitable. Christian Squires did double duty as Hamlet with Amanda Harris as Ophelia. After left alone in desperate state, Ophelia witnesses Hamlet retrace his steps with the black cape, leaving it a black river upon which she fatally steps; as she bourrees on it towards stage center, the cloak begins to ripple and turn blue; curtain.

Kelly Teo departed Diablo Ballet nearly a decade ago; Lauren Jonas and Erika Johnson restaged Incitations, the tight little ballet he created to the music of Astor Piazolla in 1997 for two couples, here Martyanova with Derek Sakakura, Rosselyn Ramirez and Justin VanWeest. The quartet performed it with a verve befitting the well-remembered zest of its creator, now a hotelier in Shanghai.

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Ballet San Jose’s Second 2014 Program, March15

7 Apr

From the neo-classical to Astor Piazolla as viewed by Paul Taylor, the Ballet San Jose dancers were thrust into a wide range of styles with the company’s second season series. And they did well by it, believe me. In between there was Nat King Cole interpreted by Dwight Rhoden and Vicente Nebrada’s 1976 perspective on romance.

Igal Perry set his bar high with using Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Adagio from the Hammerklavier Sonata for four couples, providing variations for each couple and ensemble work. Named em>Infinity, one signature motif, if you want to call it that, was the having the women supported in an expansive frontal a la seconde, not a jete, but held while they flexed their feet. With the sustained, somewhat prolonged finale to the Adagio, the necessity of repetitive movements was not only required, but was too predictable. Perry respected his music if the figures he devised for the dancers, once initially stated, needed slight variations to retain interest.

Dwight Rhoden’s 2013 Evermore for five couples added torso inflections, unexpected leg thrusts or inflections to fill the liquid, phrases of Cole’s lush renditions. Cole surrendered to the songs and emotions as much as he interpreted them; for me this full-bodied quality was diminished by the busy body motions. Think Twyla Tharp-Frank Sinatra, as possessing an edgier timbre. It seemed Rhoden was shy in echoing Cole’s grand simplicity.

With Nuestros Valses >to the music of Ramon Delgado Palacias and Terese Carreno, Vicente Nebrada provided his couples both variations and ensembles, flirtatious swoons and swooping waltz movements, evoking romance but giving the audience a feel for the Latin view of civilized romance.

Paul Taylor’s Piazolla Caldera found the dancers enjoying themselves, rising to the implicit torrid quality of tango at its sexiest and most suggestive, and leaving the audience exhilarated and enthusiastic.