Tag Archives: Michael Lowe

Menlowe Ballet’s 2016 Spring Season

5 May

Coming thick and fast, late April-early May signal performance, performance, performance.

Lucky for Menlowe Ballet-it was able to engage four Silicon Valley Ballet soloists and principals for its spring season titled Collage. The company has a penchant for bold single title programs, though the performance does not always reinforce the declaration. This time, with its three numbers, the label was apt. It featured Michael Lowe’s Jin Ji [Collage[; Repeat after Me by Val Caniparoli to Johann Paul Von Westhoff’s Sonatas Pour Violin and Basse Continuo; and Gregory Dawson’s “and so I say to you,” to music by Dalmusio Payomo, Ron Kurti, Gregory Dawson. The Caniparoli and Dawson works were premieres, the Lowe work a mix of former parts from his Izzie-winning Bamboo and two additional numbers.

Lowe engaged Junna Ige and Maykel Solas, principal dancers, and soloists Amy Marie Briones and Akira Takahashi from the ill-fated Silicon Valley Ballet, all of whom had been initially hired by Dennis Nahat when the company was named Ballet San Jose. The fifth dancer, Anton Pankovitch also enjoyed the Nahat imprimatur, [ if you can apply that word to dancers] but had appeared with Menlowe Ballet in 2014; a quintet of excellent troupers..

The cheerful charm of Lowe’s choreography has been reinforced by the Menlo Park Academy of Dance students, seven of them in Chai DaiRibbons], included in Jin Ji. Well trained, mostly on the medium-sized, they danced with non-nonsense and confidence. What was most interesting in this pleasant Asian-accented work was Chu Yi [New Year’s Eve] featuring Akira Takahashi as a young man on a drunk with fantasies of three women [Christina Schitano, Amy Marie Briones and Chantelle Pianetta]. Moving between the table with bottle and tumbler and center stage Takahashi partnered the trio in succession as they emerged from a glittering, multi-hued shimmer of metallic ribbons. Consistently in character, Takahashi warmed to his role with an energy which he didn’t seem allowed to unharness in the years following Nahat’s departure from the ill-fated Ballet San Jose-Silicon Valley Ballet.

Val Caniparoli’s Repeat After Me hued to its formal structure, if the music itself had measures anything but classical. Angular gestures of arms, hands and head accents opened and closed the work. Susan Roemer’s costumes gave the women short grey blue skirts with a black line front and back. The colors were matched by the men, but might have been enhanced with a belt. Maykel Solas made his first appearance as did Anton Pankovich, both excellent partners.

“And so I say to you,” Gregory Dawson’s first work for Menlowe Ballet, gave clear evidence that he has moved on from the predominantly singular variations of his mentor and former director Alonso King. Using Pankovich to commence and complete the work, Dawson’s ensemble passages, particularly at lower stage left, worked well with the energetic score attacked at equal pitch by the ensemble.

Typical of my reactions to both new works, I need a second viewing to deliver an opinion verging below the initial visual and aural impact. What lingers from this performance was the cohesion of the new artists, the existing dancers and the students.It would be terrific if the new artists could remain with Menlowe Ballet, enriching the ballets and certainly drawing audience members from their former company. It also might inveigle more critics to watch Menlowe Ballet grow from strength to strength.

A final charm to the evening was to see Betsey Erickson in the audience and
elsewhere Christine Elliott, both with length histories in Bay Area dance and seasons with American Ballet Theatre and Rika Onizuka, a veteran both of Smuin Ballet and Lines Contemporary Ballet. Carlos Carvajal’s wheels wrapped it up as a singular evening’s treat.

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Menlowe Ballet with Four Silicon Valley Ballet Dancers

22 Mar

At the 30th Anniversary Isadora Duncan Dance Awards Ceremony March 21 at the Yerba Buena Center Forum Theatre, Artistic Director Michael Lowe said that not only will their April 29-May 1 program feature choreography by Val Caniparoli and Gregory Dawson, but four popular dancers from Silicon Valley Ballet will be dancing.

Junna Ige, Maykel Solas, Amy Marie Briones and Akira Takahashi will be Menlowe Ballet’s guest artists. Besides being excellent dancers making the best of a truly bum deal, the quartet represents the best in cultural diversity.

It should be an exiting spring series at Menlowe Ballet’s usual venue, Menlo Park High School Auditorium.

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Oakland Celebrates A Half Century

2 Jun

A 4 p.m. curtain May 23 at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre was preceded by a series of still images from its memorable repertoire, few unfamiliar. Three were missing, belonging to its inaugural season reminding me of the courage and freshness of the company’s original vision Ronn Guidi hewed to during his tenure as artistic director. The audience included a near who’s who of dancers long associated with the mid to late twentieth century ballet world, their numbers almost bringing tears to my eyes. And as part of the opening, Graham Lustig both on video and in person did the company proud while Joanna Harris remarked that Ronn Guidi not only brought twentieth century ballet incons to the Paramount Theatre, he reintroduced narrative to audiences exposed to balletic abstraction. Further Lustig mounted not only ballet icons excerpts but in the second half gave the Bay Area choreographers who contributed to Oakland’s repertoire their due. The Diaghilev era snippets, familiar to long-time balletomanes, may have seemed strange to ballet-goers whose exposure dates from the first years of the twenty-first century. The dancers were young, eager, willing but as yet unfamiliar with the style and nuance needed to burnish  assignments; hopefully that will emerge if the works are remounted. The second half of the program saw them at their best. Lustig adroitly programed Ronn Guidi’s Secret Garden pas de deux for the ill-fated parents as the opening of the retrospective, danced by Sharon Wehner and Taurean Green, and followed by the frivolous pas de deux from the Bronislava Nijinska-Darius Milhaud-Chanel production of Le Train Bleu with Megan Terry and Sean Omandam cavorting in the Chanel-copies of Twenties beach wear. The Hostess solo in Les Biches was danced by Lydia McRae in that witty satire of Riviera louche behavior choreographed by Nijinska to the music of Francis Poulenc and was followed by the Can-Can from La Boutique Fantasque of Leonide Massine to Ottorino Respighi’s arrangement of Gioachhino Rossini music, with Daphne Lee and Tyler Rhoads essaying the roles created by Massine and Lydia Lopokhova. The elegaic solo from the Michel Fokine-Igor Stravinsky Petrouchka was interpreted by Evan Flood with a brief appearance by Patience Gordon as the Ballerina. It was followed by the one-time torrid pas de deux from Michel Fokine’s Scheherazade danced by Alysia Chang as Zobeide and Michael Crawford.as the Slave. The final two excerpts before intermission were Billy’s Solo from the Eugene Loring–Aaron Copland classic Billy the Kid, effectively interpreted by Gabriel Williams and Claude Debussy’s L’Apres Midi D’un Faune as reconstructed by Ann Hutchinson. Matthew Roberts was the Faun, Emily Kerr as the Chief Nymph. The program notes were quite detailed and included more nymphs than I remembered. The second half of the Oakland Ballet’s Gala comprised eight dances, six premieres. Amy Seiwart’s Before It Begins used Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin, Strings and Harpsichord for her quintet with Alysia chang, Daphne Lee, Lydia McRae, Taurean /Green and Sean Omandam. Seiwart’s overt classicism was followed by Michael Lowe’s trio featuring Megan Terry, Sharon Wehner and Evan Flood in a Mongolian-inspired theme by JigJiddorj. N with an instrument known in the West as Horse Head Fiddle. Flood was garbed in Asian-type garments, dancing frequent frontal grand jetes, softened by flowing sleeves and trousers. Betsy Erickson, who has served as ballet mistress for the Oakland Company for seven and a half years, chose Marjan Mozetch’s Postcards from the Sky music for A Moment- A Lifetime, interpreted by Emily Kerr and Taurean Green Erickson’s contribution was followed by the 1976 production of Carlos Carvajal’s mounting of Green to music of the same name by Toru Takamitsu originally choreographed in 1974 for his ensemble Dance Spectrum. Here danced by Patience Gordon, Lydia McRae and Michael Crawford, it demonstrated the Carvajal capacity for abstraction and use of unusual scores. Robert Moses’ Untitled revealed his ability to choreograph to classical music with Roy Bogas’ rendition of Erik Satie’s Gnossienne No.3, danced by Emily Kerr and Matthew Roberts, as sensitive and lyrical as one would wish. Nine dancers danced Graham Lustig’s contribution, Luminaire to the joint composition November by Max Richter and Alexander Balanescu. The dancers were Alysia Chang, Patience Gordon, Daphne Lee, Megan Terry, Sharon Wehner, Evan Flood, Taurean Green, Sean Omandam and Tyler Rhoads. The 1999 Alonzo King contribution to Oakland’s repertoire, Love Dogs, with music by Francis Poulenc, featured Lydia McRae and Michael Crawford, with King’s characteristic expanded nuances in partnering and individual torso accents. It was followed by Val Caniparoli’s Das Ballett. set to Leopold Mozart’s Toy Symphony, a lively sextette with Alysia Change, Daphne Lee, Sharon Wehner, Sean Omandam, Tyler Roads, and Matthew Roberts, an adroitly festive finale to this fiftieth Oakland Ballet celebration. Two thoughts struck me about this laudable undertaking. One is the fervent hope that the supporters of the occasion will continue contributing to the company’s funding, allowing Lustig additional time to refine the willing dancers who reflect excellent training, but need time and exposure to polish their craft. The second is Karen Brown’s statement in the gala program regarding company member composition. True, Oakland now possesses a 30 per cent complement of African Americans, but they are not and have never been the only minority whose careers Oakland fostered and supported. Asian-American dancers were developed in pre-Brown company years. Carolyn Goto, Joy Gim and Michael Lowe were just a few of those dancing under the Guidi aegis. Further, early on, Judy Titus left Oakland to join Dance Theatre of Harlem where she, like Brown, enjoyed principal status. Omar Shabazz also was a local dancer.Both dancers, I might add, were fostered by Ronn Guidi; Brown’s comments do not acknowledge the considerable change not only in opportunity but in social climate, when few African Americans ventured into the classical classroom.  Guidi fostered anyone truly  interested. Finally, I want to comment not only on the completeness and the generosity of spirit reflected in the program, but to identify two, possibly three, dances I remember well. One was The Proposal of Pantalone by Angene Feves, Associate Artistic Director of the company for the first year or two. Usingivaldi viol de gamba recordings, Feves’ graduating thesis From San Francisco State University involved commedia del arte characters and her extraordinary skills as a seamstress, providing a ballet of wit and panache unhappily lost to history. Angene and Ronn danced Brighella and Harlequin and a young fourteen-year old named Anita Paciotti made a ravishing young Italian whom Pantalone wanted to marry off for a healthy sum. There was a modern work by Nancy Feragallo, name forgotten, but her name was associated with the set designer for San Francisco’s Contemporary Dancers, led by Jay No Period Marks, and husband, Roger Feragallo. Somewhere a review with my byline lies in an issue of Thought magazine, published in New Delhi. There also was a work to Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain in which Debbie Hesse remembers dancing in opaque oblong ghostly garments, all sizes essaying jetes and cartwheels across the stage in orderly abandon. It is such a pity the three works faded in to obscurity save in the minds of those who danced and who saw and remembered.

Menlowe Ballet’s Fall Season, November 7, 2014

12 Nov

Now in its fifth season, Menlowe Ballet mounted its fall program November 8-9 and 15 at the splendid Menlo Park High School Auditorium. Titled Legend, I saw the afternoon program with its three ballets, two by artistic director Michael Lowe and one by guest choreographer Dennis Nahat.

Lowe created Plague in 2006 with a mixed score first seen in Anandha Ray’s Moving Dance ensemble tours in eastern Europe; Dennis Nahat mounted his Gounod-Verdi music based In Concert, premiered in 1977 and Lowe’s new work, Legend of the Seven Seas, utilized music from the Silk Road Ensemble, Melody of China, Mongolian, Aitain Ensemble and Jack Thorne. Thorne I suspect was responsible for merging the divergent sounds of the source scores into coherent musical support.

Lowe’s Plague, with sixteen dancers and its simple grey-toned costumes designed by Allison Porter and Christina Weiland, was created as an expression of hope in the midst of uncertainty, pain and helplessness. With a mixture of John Cage, John Dowland, Guillaume de Machaut, Arvo Part, Harry Partch, Christopher Tye and Hildegard Von Bingen, Plague reflected a mute, subdued reflection which might have emerged from Europe after World War I; its anguish never assaulted the viewer, never burst into overt agony. Rather it reminded me a little of Kurt Jooss and Trudi Schoop’s imagery minus the narrative. The death figure, Anton Pankevich, was assigned a stillness, a dignity, almost reluctance in his task. A former member of Ballet San Jose, Pankevich partnered well, his deportment and correctness emphasizing an almost ecclesatical approach to mortality.

Terrin McGee Kelly danced opposite Pankevitch, small, blonde and dressed in black; the fabric moved well, the style bare-shouldered with a plunging neckline allowed for easy lifts, turns and phrases danced to and from the floor. In this final pas de deux , however, Kelly signaled all too often what her next movement was going to be, and that was a pity. Her death struggle impressed me more with its choreographic intricacy the unusual choreographic achievement it signaled for Michael Lowe. Association with Ray clearly stretched his vision along with life experience.

The ensemble, their backs to the couple, was given some striking arm movements, like a clock’s minute arm, but down and up on opposite sides. Three women may have been affected by the plague, but I was unconvinced of the urgency, the imminent finality of life, though this intent was clear throughout the work.

In Concert,
with its pas de cinq finale to Gounod and Verdi ballet music and one luscious aria was created by Dennis Nahat in 1977 for Cleveland Ballet and danced by Cynthia Gregory among others. The dancers here were Aidan DeYoung, Brian Gephart, Demetria Schioldager, Megan Terry and Emily Kerr, stepping in for Jenna McClintock and sporting fetching costume designs by Christina Weiland. Included were an Entree and Finale and Coda for all five dancers, a Waltz, Gallop and Allegretto with a lively duet for de Young and Gephart, plus an effective Prelude danced by Demetria Schioldager. The dancers were on the mark, if I noticed areas of tension which diluted some of the effectiveness of this canny classical divertissement. It definitely provided a programmatic highlight.

I wish I could be as positive regarding Legend of the Seven Suns, the Mongolian-themed premiere by Michael Lowe, a favorite local choreographer. In this five-part work, however, the story was given only the slightest of narratives, resembling more an updated format so successful in Lowe’s Izzie Award-Winning Bamboo where there was no attempt to tell a story.

The three daughters of Emilej, the God of Fire, decked out in harem trousers and bras, movied with approximations of belly dancing – in Mongolia? Then there were the hunter and huntress, Erkhii and Eiluj, whose costumes strongly resembling tunics a la Daphnis and Chloe; in that windswept terrain covered with snow much of the year?

Of course animals figured in this nomadic environment, dressed in unitards of various colors sporting clever headdresses, the most recognizable being those of the Elk and his herd. For the backdrop there were six ovals, five of which apparently had to be vanquished, originally created by the conflict between Emilej and his harem-trousered daughters.

Clearly, I was puzzled by the proceedings though I figured out the general drift before reading the program notes following the final curtain. My take on the work is that Lowe wanted to create a work involving students, devising variations for individual dancers, honoring a culture fascinating him and telling one of its folk tales. The costumes alas fell short of meaningful adaptation, while Lowe’s choreography veered more to divertissement than drama. Hopefully, choreographer and costumer will take another look at their chosen material.

Menlowe Ballet has achieved competence in its ensemble; it enjoys an excellent venue for its performances, enjoying an admirable level of technical expertise. Hopefully, the spring performances, March 27-29,2015 will reinforce the progress achieved in these past five years.

Peninsula Ballet Theatre’s Dracula, October 26

14 Nov

The refurbished Fox Theater in Redwood City provides a lush movie heyday atmosphere, even though half the orchestra seats have been removed to provide a more multi-use venue. It  has the advantage of enough height so that it can fly scenery, making for real theater.

The Fox has become Peninsula Ballet Theatre (PBT)’s resident theater, organized originally  by modern dancer Richard Ford and ballet teacher Richard Gibson in 1967.  Gibson trained Kristine Elliott and Kenny Delmar among other serious dancers. Both Richards went on to other dance-related activities and both company and school was guided for some time by the late Ann Copozzi Bena and her daughter Rosine. The latter is now artistic director of the Sierra Nevada Ballet in Reno, and a certified teacher in the ABT curriculum.

A brief number of seasons ensued before Carlos Carvajal settled in for a nine-year run as artistic director utilizing competent dancers from a variety of schools for the annual ‘Nutcracker’ and a few programs of Carvajal ballets. Carvajal was responsible for engaging Chris Christensen as music conductor of “Nutcracker.” The production was distinctive because  local adult  individuals performed in the First Act, honing their roles through the years with remarkable skill. Carvajal added wonderful touches for the Act II variations. During the Carvajal tenure Claude Dietrich A. was commissioned by President Christine Leslie to design the company’s fluid logo.

Prior to Bruce Stieval’s arrival in 2009, the company was briefly directed by Michael Lowe and Mario Alonso,  dancers with Oakland Ballet when it was directed by Ronn Guidi.  Stieval, artistic director of Nevada Ballet Theatre following the retirement of founding artistic director Vassili Sulich, came to PBT with credits as chairman of the former Luxembourg International Ballet Competition, extensive directorial experience in Hong Kong, Korea and reputation as a master teacher internationally.  Christine Leslie, long-time PBT President, has become executive director of the organization and in charge of the re-activated school.

Stieval’s Dracula had the advantage of atmospheric music of the Polish composer Wojciech Kilar, awarded the 1992 ASCAP award for the musical he provided by Francis Ford Coppola’s film “Dracula.” The taped music, with the exception of the Johann Strauss II’s waltz in Act I, must have come from the movie’s score.

In his conception Stieval switched  artistic Christian  forms from  Orthodox to  Roman, evidenced in the chapel where the central figure is Christ crucified, feet crossed. As a suicide Dracula’s dead wife is denied Christian burial.  Dracula’s curse to God turns him into a vampire.  The scene, enhanced by eight nuns and a priest, introduced guest artist Milos Marijan. His Dracula is a handsome young man, long tapering legs, excellent pirouettes and jetes.  On the agenda, rapid transitions of location, and fateful bedtime activities.

A Victorian garden scene followed where the music supplied is a Johann Strauss II waltz, chosen because Stieval could not retrieve similar music from the Kilar composition roster. The garden  backdrop conveyed more sunlit Italian piazza than dappled English garden.  Lucy, about to meet her death at the hands of Milos Marijan’s  Dracula, was danced by Amanda McGovern, enjoying the attentions of suitors Aiden DeYoung, Michael Dunsmore and Jacob Kreamer. Mina, guest artist Bojana Zegarac, appears, affianced to Jonathan,  a bystander. During a later stroll, Lucy and Dracula meet and Dracula starts his destruction.  Mina, walking in the garden, is drawn to Dracula.

Jonathan in the meantime is in Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania to handle  business affairs; at night in bed he finds he must fend off three malevolent female figures, greedy for gore,  making for many lifts and females running around the bed .

In London, Lucy is attended by Professor Helsing a vampire authority, advising garlic clusters, the cross and holy water as protection. Alone, Dracula manages to circumvent the protections and drains Lucy’s blood.

Helsing and Lucy’s suitors discuss Lucy’s death and the way to release her soul.  Jonathan arrives. At the crypt she is missing;  she is searching for a victim.  She tries to lure Jonathan.  When her body lies in the crypt one of the quartet drives a stake in her heart to release her spirit.

You guessed it, Mina and Dracula meet in Mina’s bedroom .  Love springs between them and Mina offers herself to Dracula, so dying at his hands, she too can become a vampire.  The suitors arrive to save her, but Mina follows Dracula.

The countryside, en route to Dracula’s castle, sees the ensemble’s orgy while protecting a casket from which Dracula later appears.  Mina disappears and the suitors cope with disbursing Dracula’s wives.  The casket is lain at the altar, Dracula emerges.  Mina appears, the suitors fight to save her, and manage to kill Dracula.  Mina has disappeared, but then she arrives  Dracula enfolds her in his arms placing them both in the casket and closes the lid.

Stievel created his group scenes with skill, whether ecclesiastical, social or wildly rustic.  Given the plot some  pas de deux were predictable while beautifully executed by the guest artists. .  Because of the plot, a seamless progression from scene to scene is impossible, but overall it was enjoyable and absorbing.  I must say I rarely have enjoyed a bow as much as Zegarac’s,  the picture of graceful acknowledgment  was rendered at an angle  making one realize Belgrade’s Opera House’s former  royal box  must be close to stage left.

Menlowe Ballet’s First Season Finale

29 Oct

Menlowe Ballet completed its first season October 5-7 at  San Mateo’s Bayside  Center for the Performing Arts. East of Highway 101,  it takes a knowledgeable driver to know where to turn off.  Carlos Carvajal is one such driver; we made the October 7 matinee,  featuring Betsy Erickson as guest choreographer, two works by artistic director Michael Lowe.  The company comprises seventeen members; Executive Director Lisa Shively and  Michael Lowe have been careful to arrange a program allowing sufficient time for the dancers also to appear in Oakland Ballet’s Nutcracker.

Michael Lowe’s Serei was first on the program.  Set to John Williams’ music, the ballet was preceded by a brief Koto performance by Mariko Ishikawa, setting the tone for Mariko Takahashi’s aerial work on a scarlet scarf hanging vertically on center stage.  Movements wound both upward and down before classical vocabulary appeared, but Takahashi made space within the music for effective pauses.

She was joined by four other dancers; in the third section dancing with Maxim Lin-Yee, a tall, impressive  newcomer, his presence a bit like  Lee CunXin.

The ballet was supposed to deal with Takashashi’s reflections and the degree of fulfillment she experienced in each.  I didn’t feel this  was fully realized choreographically, though the dancing was excellent, the atmosphere absorbing.  Ayako Takahashi was credited with costuming, Ron Ho with the lighting design.

Betsy Erickson’s Songs to Richard Strauss was premiered in Oakland in 1990, five couples, six selections.  Mario Alonzo designed the costumes, differing hues for each couple: cream, grey, purple, red, lavender or light blue.  Patty Ann Farrell was the lighting designer.

Erickson is attracted to flowing movement; during her dancing career, she was distinctive in adagio. I remember in particular her dancing the adagio in Symphony in C.  She remarked  she is influenced by water and wave patterns,  evident in sweep of the port de bras, particularly when the women on pointe were supported  by their partners; at times the entire ensemble’s arms circled like a variation in T’ai Ch’i.

Menlowe Ballet’s finale was a local production of Surfside, originally created for Richmond Ballet, Virginia, 2002. Not quite an update on Todd Bolender’s Souvenirs or Bronislava Nijinska’s Le Train Bleu, it shared the insouciant qualities of the young, their energies on the make, set to the music of Sandy Nelson and The Ventures.  Paul Stinson and John Baker furnished a jazzy pre and postlude.

Utilizing Menlo Park Academy of Dance students, bright, eager, it left the audience convinced it wanted more.

Menlowe Ballet’s spring performances will be April 20-21, 2013 at the 492 seat Menlo -Atherton Performing Arts Center, ideal for the company’s current size.  Nicolai Kobanaiev is guest choreographer.

Menlowe Ballet Makes Its Debut November 5

17 Nov

With its two performance debut November 5, Menlowe Ballet is off to an
encouraging start, enjoying former Oakland Ballet dancers and choreographers in the evening’s  audience.

The company has a singular advantage for its future: a school closely connected to the performing ensemble; this provides a key element in a company’s growth and stability.  The other key is the choreographic force guiding the artistic vision. With Michael Lowe, the fledgling ensemble demonstrated definite promise.

The program comprised two ballets previously choreographed by Lowe, two brief pas de deux by guests Nikki and Ethan White, and Cirque, Lowe’s new work which adroitly combined professionals and children in well-balanced doses.

Chuntian (In the Spring) seemed a reworking of  his Award-winning Bamboo. themes, using nature images as a springboard for the choreography. With Chinese-accented music by Liu Xing and Wang Dong, it reminds one a great strength is utilizing what one knows.  Lowe’s Asian background provides just the right touch for tadpoles, lotus, and crickets.  For the evening performance guest artists Akira Takahashi and Amy Briones of Ballet San Jose chirped with skill.

The two pas de deux “Halleluja” and “Over The Rainbow” demonstrated the
Nikki and Ethan White skills in partnering and rapport.  “Halleluja” bore
little relation to the lyrics, but its  performance for Paula Abdul’s television show garnered third place.  “Over The Rainbow” evoked nostalgia but the partnering feats revealed the effort.

“Plague”, Lowe’s creation for Moving Arts Dance in 2006, reflected that company’s emphasis on “significant” work, featuring Damon Mahoney as the fateful figure, and utilizing music from six composers: Guillaume de Machaut, Arvo Park, John Dowland, Harry Partch, Christopher Tye and John Cage.  Decimation and Death enjoyed full play and eleven dancers threw themselves into the maw of Mahoney as grim reaper.

“Cirque” as program finale enforced Lowe’s deftness with story telling, this time to  seven composers: Gavin Bryars, Gioacchino Rossini, Scott Killiam, Benajmin Britten, Rolft Kent, Dmitri Shostakovich, Jacques Offenbach. Each selection was
employed adroitly. Also acknowledged were ballets by John McFall and Lew Christensen in which Lowe danced.

Whether “Cirque” can travel using devoid of Silly Sailors and Saucy Swashbucklers or Flying Tigers is moot.  Seeing young students cleverly integrated in a largely adult assignment  is delightful, standard and an astute eye to the future.  Lively, well disciplined, they attacked their assignments with infectious spirit.  Their support to Ikolo Griffin as Ringmaster was for smile making, particularly when Griffin  partnered Mariko Takahashi in a Bohemian Rose Adagio.  With eyelids glittering and Danse Arabe costume prancing, Takahashi was supported a fish dive or two or settled herself on Griffin’s shoulders.

For Maria LaMance as the Strongwoman  Lowe provided several instances to display disdain personified.  At the end of the demonstration her small assistants carted the heavy barbell off stage with utter nonchalance.

Griffin supervised an Exotic Bird Bath before sharing A Tight Rope proving fatal to a young tight rope walker. Lowe’s invention registered the necessary gasp and sorrow; typical to his narrative talent he told the story without undue emphasis.

It was good to see Griffin in a role displaying his line, jump and turns.  Let’s
trust to Lowe’s ability to challenge Griffin further.

Menlowe Ballet moves to Mountain View’s Center for the Performing Arts in
mid-March 2012.