Tag Archives: Robert Dekkers

Diablo Ballet’s 22nd Season November 14

23 Nov

Plucky Diablo Ballet acquired a new venue last year with the 400-seat Del Valle Theater, which I understand is a former school site. A walker dependent on public transportation like myself, Contra Costa County has a bus system but the hours are not solicitous to theatre goers. I am lucky to have friends like Richard and Elizabeth Sah to pick me up at BART. Richard, a balletomane of three decades plus, has served on the  Diablo Board for several years.

A good portion of Diablo Ballet’s pluck emanates form Lauren Jonas, the artistic director, backed by Erika Johnson, a former dancer like Lauren and now in charge of development. Both are alumna of Marin Ballet in one of its most productive periods, a time they shared with Joanna Berman who serves as Diablo Ballet’s regisseur.

While the company’s season is short, three or four weekends a year at most, the community outreach has been steady; the company members are accessible after performances to chat with audience members who linger over coffee, tea and batches of cookies baked by steady supporters. This year has seen the start of a Teen Board, meeting monthly to plan its own brand of community involvement. Clearly, Diablo Ballet, now in its 22nd season, is a genuine, small scale community ballet ensemble and promises to continue flourishing.

Three works comprised the program, starting with Norbert Vesak’s Tchaikovsky Dances Pas de Deux, premiered in 1982 by Cynthia Gregory and Fernando Bujones in Miami June 2, 1982. Staged here by Joanna Berman the Robert Clay de la Rose, the Diablo dancers were Amanda Aeris and Raymond Tilton.

The wide Del Valle Theatre is a definite improvement over the previous Shadelands construction, and one can see how well suited it was for school assemblies. The Vesak stage patterns suggested a deeper stage and more atmospheric lighting . The assignments evoked the long lines of Bujones and Gregoru’s particular stage savvy.  I would rather have seen Diablo’s dancers in tights than in the adapted Empire and bonhommie costume worn by the dancers; I think they would have been more comfortable. The pair danced nicely, but could improve on the transitions of a piece which emphasized line and pauses.

The second piece, AnOther, to Yann Tiersen music was choreographed by Robert Dekkers, Diablo Ballet’s choreographer-in- residence and a company dancer currently sidelined for medical reasons. Premiered in 2008 in Tempe, Arizona, it entered the Diablo Ballet repertoire in January 2014 when Diablo Ballet performed at Shadelands’ Art Center in Walnut Creek.

To semi-lyrical, repetitive music, eight dancers commence in silhouette, lighting amber to café au lait tones, accenting bodies and position changes. Eight dancvers were involved: Tatyana Martyanova, Jackie McConnell, Roselyn Ramirez, Mayo Sugano, Aidan de Young, Jamar Goodman, Raymond Tilton, Christian Squires.

I need to see the work again to comment further.

One of the constant features in a Diablo program is at least one number is danced to live music. After intermission, Sean Kelly’s A Swingin’ Holiday, was danced as its 2015 Edition. The swing sounds were provided by the Diablo Ballet Swing Orchestra, directed by Greg Sudmeier, a sixteen piece orchestra comprising saxaphone, trumpets, trombones, piano, bass and of course drums. Three dancers cavorted down the left aisle, a girl with a pink pom-pom bobbing on a stem attached to a blue Jackie-type hat,  her short blue dress an attitude to match, flanked by Jamar Goodman in a generous yellow zoot suit to her right and a similar suit in red on her left worn by Aidan de Young, who later danced up a storm in a solo combining technical virtuosity and jazzy acuity. The stage was set with table, chairs and the ensemble played out their entrances, encounters and flirtations with ease and energy.

A Swingin Holiday cannot be classified as a deathless perennial by any stretch of the imagination, but the dancers did well by it and it served as a cheery ending

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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.

Post Ballet’s Fourth Season, Lam Research Theater

24 Jul

Artistic Director Robbert Dekkers chose three prior works to precede his 2013 premiere “field the present shifts” [the title was printed in lower case] with music commissioned from Matthew Pierce, costumes by Christine Darsch, projections by  Robert Gilson and Catherine Caldwell, and lighting by David Robertson. Dekkers used seven dancers, four men and three women, largely as a group, movements in common, in four different styles of attack, culminating in a return to the original exposition.  The dancers were Aidan De Young, Ashley Flaner, Domenico Luciano, Jane Hope Rehm, Christian Squires, Raychel Weiner, Ricardo Zayas. The four violinists were Alan Lin, Debbie Spangler, Noah Strick, Ondine Young.

I saw this program Thursday, July 18, 2o13.

Christine Darsh’s costumes were dyed an interesting shade of orange fading into the original off-white color of the tights, the men stripped to the waist, the girls in unitard form embellished by the orange material waving slightly above the breasts, while the men’s tights flared at the waist line.

Suspended from the ceiling were six clumps of spaghetti-looking white strands, meeting and clasped at the top in  Japanese gift embellishment style.  Behind, the projections commenced with a starry night, gradually forming several vertical lines.  Into these lines lineal forms were introduced – stringy  at first, gradually forming more doodle-like arrangements, cross-hatching, reaching beyond a single column, assuming bigger and more complex if geometric shapes.  At mid point, the projection became a massive, angular shaped piece of closely intersecting lines, as if projecting the tangled lines of bureaucratic procedure and protocol with some poor human efforts in facing the complexity..

In the four sections, a woman moved outside the collection of dancers, followed by another, then another, the group then coalescing in a new location.  Luciano made a similar thrust, establishing himself as the ensemble’s leader, more or less, though one remembers it was a woman. the initial venturesome one.

The lineal forms, resembling decorations on a gift box wrapped Japanese style , slowly descended to brush the floor.  Just before the movement summary, Luciano briefly moved through it with an inquiring walk; in the background a woman did her own exploration of another clump of the voluptuous, if see through, white threads.  Gradually, however, the ensemble, though milling around separately, again began to coalesce while the the gift box strings slowly ascended.  The music repeated its original theme and the dancers, like the Sonata Allegro form, gathered together;  there was an abrupt blackout.

Many in the audience displayed an ecstatic reaction, rising to their feet.  I found the choreographic sections did not transition smoothly or with meaning, despite the effort to portray the beginning of collective action, supported by the evocative music, lighting and stage decor.

For the other three pieces, “Colouring,” “Sixes and Seven” and “When in Doubt” Jessica Collado in Dekkers’ solo “Sixes and Seven” to Philip Glass music, was quite affecting.  Often, she would turn her torso and arm to the side, perhaps turning it from the shoulder, bending it at the elbow, gazing down at the limb and her action in slight surprise.

“Colouring” [Dekkers chose the English-style spelling]  involved a stiff white, blank piece of material suspended behind Ashley Flaner and Domenico Luciano, standing opposite each other. They responded to the black squares, curved and geometrical lines Enrique Quintero drew on the sheet.  Downstage right, choreographer Dekkers stood, signalling to the dancers with his fingers what movement pattern should be executed after Quintero had completed his strokes on the board,which sometimes appearing black or in some form the Asian calligraphers call flying white.

The exercise revealed a slow motion grasp of partnering, some beautiful passing forms when Luciano lifted Flaner or they circled each other like expansive sumo  belts. It remained essentially an exercise, albeit interesting.

Mr. Dekkers clearly is extremely conscious of shapes and forms.  The cover of his program depicted Dekkers and another male locked in an embrace with a woman semi-profile arms extended behind them, all apparently nude except for the woman’s tattoo ;that was more clearly revealed on the back cover where on pointe she semi-crouched.  The individual dancers’ pictures, largely head shots, seemed to reinforce the skin display.

The program also contains Dekkers’ belief regarding what is conveyed in each of the four pieces his program called “Four Plays.”  Somehow, I prefer to reach my own conclusions regarding this well-conceived, carefully presented program.

Diablo Ballet’s Three Premieres November 17

22 Nov

Artistic Director Lauren Jonas possesses a healthy amount of taste; it certainly was on display for Diablo Ballet’s fall performances at Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.  You can also include in that estimate a capacity for wide variety for the dances seen November 16-17 ranged from an extended erotic pas de deux to Jose Limon’s inconic The Moor’s Pavane, ending with Sean Kelly’s commissioned work, A Swingin’ Holiday for four couples and a sizeable swing orchestra.

David Fonnegra was responsible for mounting Vicente Nebrada’s three part Scriabin offering Lento a Tempo e Appassionata played by Roy Bogas with his usual reliable panache.  Fonnegra partnered Hiromi Yamazaki, one of the Bay Area natives who danced elsewhere before returning to the Bay Area.  In the first third, as well as the other two, the pair kept pivoting around each other, the spiral modulating into a supported plunging arabesque, some variation of fish dive, or a left to the shoulder or grand jete aloft which rapidly assumed a different posture, invariably with beautiful finishes in the port de bras.

The middle section saw Yamazaki and Fonnegra separate physically only to rush towards each other to accomplish a spectacular climax to the musical phrase.  When it came to Appassionnato, you got it, rushes together separately, turns and spins of great urgency, concluding on the stage floor intertwined. It was a  major partnering job for Fonnegra and plenty of spacial daring required of Yamazaki, both expertly realized their demands.

After a pause the curtains parted on a reprise of Jose Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane to the music of Henry Purcell, music more popularly recognized as used by Jerome Robbins.  Just four dancers, a swirling red robe for Derek Sakakura as The Moor,  striking sinister hues of mustard for His Friend, interpreted by Robert Dekkers.  Mounted by Gary Masters, the Moor’s Wife was
danced by Heather Cooper and His Friend’s Wife by Maria Basile, both guesting from SjDance Co, headed by Masters.  Mounting this iconic modern dance work is a major event anywhere.

In the Lucas Hoving role, Dekkers came close to the wily deadpan which creates such a sinister aura within the formal structure, where the four dance together, then the men, then the couples, the quartet and all too soon the Moor is tormented into his fatal action.  As noted elsewhere, the quartet dances towards one another,  rather than to the audience.

Sakakura, his chest too large for the costume, conveyed a cooler Moor than one might expect, although his anguish toward the end was plain, having danced it twice before and thus the  opportunity to grow in the portrayal.  Technically quite adequate, I felt I was seeing a Moor with samurai training.

Cooper and Basile both brought maturity to their roles, Basile’s use of her persimmon velvet skirts taunting, flirtatious, a smirk on her face more open to persuasion than the oblique smile of Pauline Koner, while Cooper’s Wife was even more neutral than remembered with Betty Jones.  If Moor’s Pavane goes to Diablo Ballet’s  San Jose and Hillbarn engagements in the spring, it will be interesting to see how the interpretations evolve in this engrossing, classic work.

Following intermission the program closed with Sean Kelly’s A Swingin’ Holiday, utilizing four couples, highly colored zoot suits for the men, ‘Thirties glamour for the women and a fifteen piece orchestra to blare the music hyped up swing era style. The dancers rose to the stylistic challenge ably; it was very nice to see Aaron Orza back on stage since departing San Francisco Ballet.

Kelly created dances appropriate to the music, but a unifying thread was missing, leaving the pas de huit with a series of dances, entrances, greetings and then minor vignettes leaving the impression that strangers had gathered in a night club or dive, but essentially were unconnected.

Robert Dekkers’ Triads, Herbst Theatre, July 21

23 Jul

Triads must refer to Robert Dekkers’ third season as artistic director for Post:Ballet, because the program itself only sporadically demonstrated relationships of three in the four dances performed at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre, July 21.

A scheduled fifth was eliminated due to the destruction of a sculpture in the final work, a pas de deux.  Actually, that was good providing you hold the opinion that final  program numbers should be ensemble ones.

Dekkers comes across the footlights as articulate, very earnest. given to using  “and” frequently.  The program itself displayed a consistent “look” in its  photographs, high black and white contrast;  a ‘Twenties look – Clara Bow lips for the women, marcelled hair, single line eyebrows.  For the men there were Valentino-like side burns, brooding postures, careful hairlines; for both genders clear suggestions of nudity. The dancers themselves were ten; during the rest of the year they are claimed by Smuin Ballet (Jonathan Mangosing, Susan Roemer, Christian Squires); Ballet Arizona (Beau Campbell; Myles Lavallee) Diablo Ballet (Hiromi Yamazaki); Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre (Domenico Luciano) plus three with no obvious company affiliation.  Dekkers himself is currently a dancer with Diablo Ballet; Happy Ending, the evening’s  second work, was premiered  by Diablo  May 4.

Dekkers clearly knows how to package his work; the financial credits and  program testifies to skills so necessary for an artistic director.  Based on the program notes, he also  provides explanations/inspirations for his works, expressing them in contemporary style, which is to say lyricism and conventional romance [read chivalry] between the genders is somewhere waiting in the wings,  scarcely welcomed by musical choices, movement or  spoken opinions uttered as part of the accompanying sound.

Mine is Yours, premiered May 19 during the San Francisco International Arts Festival, here was interpreted by Domenico Luciano with Ashley Flaner, Raychel Weiner and Hiromi Yamazaki as the three women.  Described as “exploring the individual’s physical mental and spiritual relationship with the external world it was initially inspired by the book Sex at Dawn,” it touched on sexual sharing.  The three women walked on demi-pointe throughout, mostly with flexed knees, arms held  upwards in the stick ‘em up position, minus fright.  Torsos rotated from side to side, the head moved as if manipulated by a puppeteer.  In a diaphanous skirt and bare torso Luciano was prone downstage right. The trio moved downstage left before splintering.  Progressively, the trio made contact with Luciano in various ways individually and collectively, contacting him with their heads in his chest, being lifted on his shoulders, slithering through his legs, dragging him upstage.

Three is common in many cultures; I found myself thinking of the mythic Grecian Three Fates; spinning, measuring and cutting of human life; man moving from inertness to active involvement though remaining almost as uncomprehending as the trio’s  detachment.

Happy Ending, initially premiered by Diablo Ballet, is a pas de six with three girls in short skirts and tees, the fellows with suspender-held trousers, the use of the back wall to frame the six starting against it, almost climbing it. Dekkers had his dancers execute melt-down ronde de jambes, wiggling  calves and feet.  Girls were carried, or supported from the knees, heads
near the floor; the men gathered in a trio with spiral body movements, faces expressionless; the girls congregated, comparing notes body style; one moved back to the whitened back wall to execute a six o’clock developpe a la seconde.  “The piece suggests that we can find happiness and fulfillment in all of life’s “little” moments.”  The definition of “little” moments seems to have experienced a generational shift.

Following intermission Jonathan Mangosing and Christian Squires danced an excerpt from “Interference Pattern,’ abetted  by Amir Jaffer’s minimalist film and David Robertson’s lighting recreated by Jack Carpenter.  Both men danced in trunks, bare chested, Squires starting upstage and Mangosing downstage right.  In front of a brick wall, Squires’ head very gradually emerged on film while the two excellent dancers meandered their way towards each other and began to engage, a movement-dominated replica of fully dressed men, off-handed, studiously casual,  cruising for a male sexual partner. Ultimately, after many body rolls, contact was accomplished; as Squires’ face became more prominent, there was a sudden blackout.  Program notes read  “ The work is an intimate exploration of observation and its influence on our  subconscious behavior.”

When in Doubt with seven dancers  got its premiere this season, again with Dekkers’ lengthy explanation, and a fair amount of scattered speech by various voices “when we need to speak out and express our beliefs outweighs any reasons we may otherwise find to keep our thoughts to ourselves.”

At the ballet’s beginning this entailed an accented voice of someone obviously older making a generalized statement about being civilized.  For some time after that, youthful voices gave us monosyllables, and a few double directives, enough to make me cringe at current linguistic skills, gradually becoming phrases, comments, thoughtful reflections.

Dekkers used his seven dancers in a line on stage right, entering, progressing, retreating from the same.  In her single appearance Susan Roemer appeared to be carrying something small, important; later it was imitated by Beau Campbell, if my visual memory is accurate. Throughout  the ballet, this advance, retreat was emphasized against an original score by Jacob Wolkenhauser.

On this second evening Herbst Theater was almost filled.  Dekkers  must be touching a current cord, engaging a different generation of audience goers.

SFIAF’s Final Afternoon, May 20

23 May

Attending San Francisco International Arts Festival’s final afternoon, May 20, I found myself seated beside Val Caniparoli, choreographer and one of San Francisco Ballet’s principal character dancers, who had just finished his cameo as a tavern keeper where Basilio and Kitri manage to trick
Kitri’s father into blessing their union.  Also recently completed was “Incantations,”  a successful choreographic assignment with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, where Rory Hohenstein, one-time San Francisco Ballet soloist was singled out for his contribution to Caniparoli’s premiere.

When questioned, Val mentioned his take on “Lady of the Camillas,”danced to Chopin’s music, is being revived next season with Tulsa’s Ballet, Ballet West, and Boston Ballet is considering mounting it again.  It has yet to be seen here  in its entirety, although Diablo Ballet has mounted a pas
de deux from it with the gifted Tina Kay Bohnstedt in the title role.  Val also answered my query  about “Lambarena” productions, a cool thirty around the globe.  Smuin Ballet has danced “Swipe” during its spring season.

This late matinee program presented Susanna Leinonen’s Company, here just two, in “Chinese Objects,” originally created for the Royal Swedish Ballet in 2005.  The middle offering, by Cid Pearlman, a faculty member at U.C., Santa Cruz, was titled “This is what we do in Winter,” with five participants, composition by Jonathan Segel.  “Mine is Yours,” the final third,was a quartet, one male and three young dancers, to an original score by Daniel Berkman, choreographed by Robert Dekkers, his ensemble titled Post Ballet.

Elina Hayrynen and Natasha Lommi, wearing off white costumes by Erika Turenen appeared in Hanna Kayhko’s lighting like a cross between Xian tomb soldiers and puppets, aided  by distinct stiffness in correct port de bras. When they did reach in response to Kasperi Laine’s score, it was full, stretched to the finger tips While moving in soft shoes, the ballet schooling
was evident, the combination accented by the ghostly aspects of the lighting.  A short piece, “Chinese Objects”  was cogently rendered by well- trained, interesting dancers, making me want to see Leinonen’s ensemble return or her work produced on a local company.

“This is what we do in Winter” featured three girls and two fellows with all the round-robin that implies,  dancing to country music at the beginning and to similar sounds at the protracted end.  Sections implied lesbian and homosexual explorations, changing  heterosexual efforts, with a fair share of lifting and shoving as a group, sort of Sociology 101 episodes.  A distinct contrast to the prior pas de deux, virtually none of the quintet danced full out in gesture or in movement, but executed their moves in clumps. Lew Christensen once credited Michel Fokine with teaching him that dancing happens in the transitions.  “This is what we do in Winter” was bare of such nuance.

“Mine is Yours” was enhanced by striking cross lighting by David Robertson displaying Domenico Luciano arched like a withdrawn sculpture stage right;  Ashley Flaner, Raychel Weiner and Hiromi Yamazaki like three young fillies occupied mid-stage left, dressed in stretched tunics, one n red.  The filly analogy was enhanced  by paw-like hands throughout.

Costume designer Susan Roemer clad Luciano in a transparent skirt beautfully draped, his bare sculpture-like torso available to admire. Luciano, seen here recently with Diablo Ballet, partnered all three dancers in the course of the ballet.

While Marines Memorial is not a decent stage for dance, orchestra seating lacking any form of slope, SFIAF placed most of its events in one venue with a lounge across the street and closer to the Powell cable car line.  The all over-town approach when two programs follow each other in rapid succession can be difficult.

SFIAF Executive Director Andrew Wood explained to me that for most local groups works presented  at SFIAF constitute premieres.  “I don’t see them before, as I have works which are seen  performed by foreign troupes.  Local groups are booked before their works are seen.”

If I had to summarize this final matinee it would be “a hit, error and hmmh.”

Diablo Ballet Started its Eighteenth Season November 19

26 Nov

Starting its eighteenth season at Walnut Creek’s  Dean Lesher Center for the Arts, Diablo Ballet danced three performances of three ballets, two new to the repertoire, one a world premiere.  Seeing the November 19 matinee, I had mixed reactions to Le Spectre de la Rose, Tears From Above and Fluctuating Hemlines.

Val Caniparoli’s premiere was a pas de quatre for Tears from Above, danced to music for two cellos by Elena Kats-Chernin, a composer originally from deep in central Asia but now residing in Australia. As one might expect the hints of melancholy were strong, reflecting vast stretches of land with little deviation of lifestyle.  Danced by Mayo Sugano and new comers Hiromi Yamazaki, Derek Sakakura and Robert Dekkers, I want to see the piece a second time before venturing my response.

Of Spectre de la Rose, the reaction was easier, thanks to the music’s familiarity and the voluminous prose written regarding Fokine’s ballet and its phenomenal role for Vaslav Nijinsky.

The period difference from nineteenth to early twenty-first centuries could scarcely be stronger in this tale of love’s awakening dream as conceived by Dominic Walsh.  Domenico Luciano as Spectre had created the role in this adaption.  A handsomely-sculpted dancer, Luciano was garbed in a cluster of  rust- colored petals on his left chest over flesh-hued body suit and something obscuring his dark hair.  Rosalyn Ramirez, first seen in Diablo’s spring program, was dressed in a simple white sheath-like tunic with slits up the side.

Katy Heilein’s solution for the appearance of the Spectre was hanging white draperies for the Spectre’s appearing and vanishing. Both dancers, skilled performers, had to dance at times when the Spectre manipulated the Girl’s head or moved her abruptly in ways a young woman’s first romance isn’t  likely to be dreamed, unless prone to some degree of masochism. It was a bit as if  the Spectre was playing Lermontov in The Red Shoes. I found myself wincing, but the Spectre vanished in a whoosh of white curtain and I was relieved it was over.

Septime Weber’s “Fluctuating Hemlines” was revived from its fall, 2001 Diablo Ballet premiere, but was choreographed originally in 1995 for the American Repertory Ballet.  Weber, artistic director of the Washington Ballet, used exaggerated wigs and nearly Barbie Doll costumes for the four women and de rigeur jacket, ties, trousers and shirts for the men.  Weber utilized pantomime
to indicate the four girls were manifestations of prissiness.  The men were given gestures of compulsive awareness of time, checking their watches, adjusting ties, inspecting trousers for creases in the wrong places.

The coming together of male and female registered signals  of “no-no,” and “you mustn’t” in liberal dosages.  That is, until male and female attires were shed, trunks and body suits revealed and a good time was had by all;  although it seems the gestural traces of former behavior kept cropping up.  The idea was clever, but there’s so much one can do  before the lack of characterization begins to be felt.  One then desires more specificity, which Fluctuating Hemline sacrificed in the interest of generalities.  The cast comprised all the previously mentioned dancers in addition to Edward Stegge. David Fonnegra and Erika Johnson.

Diablo Ballet’s early spring season, March 2-3 will be danced at Shadelands Arts Center, Walnut Creek with an additional two performances March 30-31 at Foster City’s Hillbarn Theater.

May 4 and 5 will again see the company finish the season with three performances at Shadelands.