I'm far behind in blogging. This week has been crammed with framing work, events, and other responsibilities. I will continue to post images and recollections from California but will mingle these with current impressions, including the ballet performances we saw over the busy weekend.
Steve and I went to Charlotte on Thursday night for North Carolina's Dance Theatre's opening of "Natural Beauty". The program consisted of three works: Balanchine's "Rubies"; Nacho Duato's "Na Floresta", and the world premier of NCDT's resident choreographer Dwight Rhoden's "Set Rise Fall". The attendance was dismal.
The opening number was quite nice and we were pleased to watch Seia Rassenti perform beautifully in one of the supportive roles. (Seia graduated with Mathias from the Kirov.) Although I haven't ever warmed to Balanchine, such a piece might convert me if I ever see it "properly". It had "fire", precision, and lovely sequences of dance. It was, however, marred with a lack-luster leading male. He just didn't seem the "Balanchine" type...whatever that is....I've heard the phrase so often that it just seems to fit here even though I really don't know what a "Balanchine" dancer is....I'm just fairly sure this guy isn't one! Though a nice ballet; it seemed spoiled.
The second work was easily my favorite of the evening. Perhaps it was the music by Heitor Villa-Lobos or the lighting. Perhaps I just like some sort of scenery...this was minimal but effective. Perhaps I just liked the quality of the dance. I've always liked watching Rebecca Carmazzi but Nicholle Rochelle was quite captivating. In fact, all the ladies were excellent and the men seemed equally strong.
Neither Steve nor I liked the final piece at all. It seemed to be trying too hard to impress. It was nearly frantic with activity and never balanced with any moment of calm. The music was the main distraction. The drum beats were monotonous and too loud. It went on and on and on. I also disliked the props and costumes. Unfortunately, because this dance ended the program, we left on a sour note, disappointed.
Amazingly, however, "Swan Lake" saved the weekend in the category of dance! Steve, Alex, and I all went and none of us expected to be impressed. Columbia City Ballet has rarely performed classical work that we've really enjoyed. Of course, the task is a difficult one. There's never live music and there's generally too many little kids cast. In a small town with two professional companies to support, there's not much chance to remedy the first problem. Yet, happily the second one was not an issue. As a result, it was far easier to see the corps de ballet. They were really worth seeing. In fact, they were undoubtedly the best part of the production. They seemed well rehearsed and very together, working in unison and with the music.
We were happy to see Willie Moore dancing very well. He stays nicely in character at all times, pointing his feet to exit...not just walk off the stage like some of the other men. The swans were all very good and convincing. Kerrie Anne Dunn, however, stood out as one of the lead swans, and the "little swans" or cygnets were down right terrific.
As far as the leads go, I'm just not sure what to think of Victoria Cholkas' performance. I know it should have been better but I also know it isn't fair to compare it to the dancers I've seen from larger, world-class companies. Basically, she turned in a nice evening in the demanding dual role of Odette/Odile. Sara Mearns, soloist at NYCB who got her "big break" as a corps member plucked to perform this part, was in the audience.
Peter Kozak danced as Prince Siegfried. I do know what to think about his performance. It was terrible, pure and simple. One does not have to have seen an international caliber dancer in this role for comparison. I've seen plenty of students turn in better variations. Although Peter looks every inch the part, he didn't dance like it. He was sloppy. His partnering was thankfully adequate but otherwise he wasn't dancing like a principal. Jose Serrano, the other male principal, was injured but I don't think he was suppose to dance anyway.
Fortunately, the productions was still more wonderful than poor. In fact, I recommended Saturday's matinee and evening performance to others. Hopefully, some went as the attendance was sadly low.