Monday, November 06, 2006

USC Dance Program: November 2 and 3

The University of South Carolina presented its autumn showcase for ballet on Thursday, November 2 and Friday, November 4 at the Koger Center. The program was in three parts: Balachine's Sur Les Pointe followed by Balachine's Who Cares? (concert version) and concluded with Alan Hineline's Glennies. We went on Friday night. The auditorium had a nice crowd but far fewer than for most past performances.

We have seen the students dance Who Cares? at least twice before. Portions of it have been danced on even more occasions. So, we knew what to expect. There were a few typical bobbles and errors but overall it was nicely done. Sarah Coats was featured, which is normal. Many said she ought to have pursued a ballet career. She is very talented. Yet, I don't think she auditioned anywhere. She isn't even a dance major. Happily, she will graduate this spring and enter graduate school for a degree in Nurse Anesthesia. This has always been her goal. She had problems with the movement called "Fascinating Rhythm" but this could just be fatigue. She was cast in major roles in all three dance selections.

It was also nice to see freshman Bonnie Boiter-Jolley in several soloist roles. She did very well for the most part. Having watched her dance since she was eight, I knew to watch her arms, a weakness. They are still not as fluid and natural looking as they ought to be (or how wonderfully strong they had been in the last production of Martha Graham's work). Yet, she is overall an accomplished college dancer, even at her young age.

Susan Dabney was also very nicely featured. Ben Hankinson did a good job too, but is unfortunately way too short for partnering. Dancing most of the other male soloist roles were Norbert Nirewicz and Serguei Chtyrkov. Serguei is quite adequate and Norbert even appears to genuinely enjoy the Balachine. This is especially funny since I personally know he hates it.

Glennies was interesting. Barry Sparks commented on how much he enjoyed doing the unique lighting. I liked how the movements flowed together. Later in the weekend, we saw a video of Evelyn Glennie in performance. It was on the Arts Channel (available in Charlotte, NC--not here in Columbia, of course!) I likely would have enjoyed the dance more had I seen it first.

Now, the first piece was Sur Les Pointe. It was a nice piece that left me wondering how differently it would look had I seen New York City Ballet perform it. Of course, it would be better but I was continually aware of how much less I was witnessing. Much of this feeling was a result of Leonid Flegmatov's inability to grasp anything "Balachine" or even show much of a flair for ballet in general. He was down right poor. His best asset seemed to be his handsome looks. I really don't know much about ballet styles, but I do know when one is suppose to point ones feet, leap at least a little into the air, turn on one's axis, and TRY to dance! Poor kid, he was likely under rehearsed and under experiences for the part. He was appearing courtesy of Columbia Classical Ballet. Radenko and his "crew" were at least all there for support.

We didn't stay to greet or talk to anyone after the show. Alex had gone to Dreher High School to see (required) the drama production of Pirates of Penzance. He said it was terrible. I tried to explain a few things about appropriate expectations, like not expecting NYCB at a USC show. I think my words were lost on him though!

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