New Dancers New Rep

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Early in October we watched an open rehearsal of Cleveland Ballet’s upcoming fall concert. The repertoire, two new ensemble pieces choreographed by Artistic Director Gladisa Guadalupe and 2 pas de deux, provides a fine showcase for a greatly changed company which includes familiar faces from previous seasons as well as many exciting performers entirely new to Cleveland dance audiences.

The concert starts with Momentum, “just dancing,” as Guadalupe describes it, set to Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in G minor, 19 minutes of music that fairly begs a bunch of dancers to show off, especially their speedy steps. In the first movement — molto allegro con fuoco, which means “fast with fire” – we see small groups dancing, appropriately, fast and with fire. This was definitely not a situation where a few dancers were front and center and the rest were permanently in the background; rather, Guadalupe featured the men but gave all 15 or so dancers – women as well as men — a chance to shine.

The second, slower movement of Momentum begins with a small group of 3 men and 3 women performing unison partnering. Again, our impression was that all the dancers got a chance to show their stuff, although the movement ended with a single couple, Andy Sousa and Anna Dobbins.

The final movement, presto, is even faster that the first but it’s here that the dance Momentum earns its name in a crescendo of long, sweeping runs upstage. Simply running is probably the easiest, most obvious thing the dancers are given to do in Momentum, but it’s wonderful to see and the simple runs are soon replaced with a succession of couples performing big running lifts.

“Just dancing,” but we liked Momentum very much. After you see it, let us know what you think by entering your comment below.

Next, the concert presents 2 pas de deux. In the open rehearsal we were shown 2 casts, both excellent, performing Don Quixote pas de deux. The other pas de deux, Le Corsaire, was not shown at the rehearsal.

In one cast, 2 returning dancers form an effective partnership. Andy Sousa, tall, strong, and showing beautiful lines, performed the daunting pas with authority. His turns, which showed to such advantage in Alice (https://clevelandconcertdance.com/2018/05/08/cleveland-ballets-alice-characterizations-at-another-level/), also looked wonderful in Don Q. As Sousa’s Kitri, Anna Dobbins brought her speedy pointe work and daring partnering to bear.

In the other cast of Don Q, Luciano Perotto and Nicole Fedorov, both new to the company this fall, interspersed their partnering with antic looks and double takes, reminding us that Don Q is a comic ballet. Perotto, like Sousa, showed amazing jumps and turns. He’s another young, strong dancer added to the company. Fedorov was gracious, charming, and more than up to the technical challenges of her role.

We’ve referred to Le Corsaire pas de deux but as Cleveland Ballet correctly points out, that dance is arguably a pas de trois, a dance of three. Whether as a duet or trio, we’ve all seen the famous dance from Le Corsaire. Pirate chief Conrad’s slave, Ali, bare-chested and — since Nureyev — with a feather in his headband, dances the big romantic pas with Medora the slave girl. But wait. If Conrad loves Medora, why does he delegate to Ali? Whatever spurious reason your program note provides, dear reader, the real reason is as explained in Baryshnikov at Work, that Conrad was originally basically a mime role.

Guadalupe introduces the final dance on the program, Provocativo, with a program note in which she describes the late night cafes “all around Buenos Aires” where artists gather to “relax, socialize, and unwind.” At the rehearsal, she was keen to emphasize that Provocativo recreates the scene at those cafes but doesn’t develop extended story lines. And, she went on, the music is all tango music by Astor Piazzolla but the dancing is not tango.

 

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Watching Provocativo in rehearsal what we did see was lots of PG-rated flirting and lots of mostly balletic dancing and showing off. Judging from the smiles and the body language, the flirting seemed largely for real and we found it impossible not to enter into the spirit of things ourselves. The dancing and showing off included solos, duets, and trios – all easy to read as social groups in the café scene – as well as single women surrounded by male admirers. Madison Campbell beamed and basked as the men hovered. Elena Cvetkovich looked from one man to another more skeptically.

So, Provocativo presents an engaging slice of life rich with atmosphere. Live musicians onstage with the dancing promise to add even more appeal. At the rehearsal, pianist Ralitsa Georgieva Smith, violinist Rachel Englander, and cellist Derek Snyder provided a richly-textured live accompaniment. For the concerts, we are promised that Dan Finn will play double bass and emerging international star Julien Labro will play bandoneon. Russian tenor Mikhail Urusov will also sing as part of the ambience in the café depicted in Provocativo.

Will Provocativo work in the Ohio Theatre? We guess that it will but, again, if you see it please let us know your thoughts by entering a comment below.

Cleveland Ballet presents Fall Ballet Collection at the Ohio Theatre at 8:00 pm Friday 10/19, 1:00 pm Saturday 10/20, and 7:00 pm Saturday 10/20/2018. Tickets $79 – $25 at PlayhouseSquare.org or ClevelandBallet.org. For more information on Cleveland Ballet visit http://www.clevelandballet.org or call 216-320-9000.

Victor Lucas

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