The young dancers of the University of Utah's Utah Ballet company are trained in the classics, but they also know how to perform works that lean toward the contemporary.
That is evident in the current run of Utah Ballet's performances.
The centerpiece is "Tribute to Michael Smuin," choreographed by the company's artistic director, Attila Ficzere.
Ficzere, who was a friend of the late former artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet, restaged excerpts from Smuin's grand "The Tempest."
After a video tribute to Smuin, who received his dance education at the U. back in the 1950s and 1960s, the Utah Ballet dancers took to the stage and did the man proud.
On Thursday, each variation was done with graceful and sometimes playful fluidity, and the two male dancers Christopher Peddecord and Joshua Stovall were strong, although there was a brief time in which the two were out of sync.
Still, the work ended with an uplifting Rainbow pas de trios, featuring Courtney Stohlton, Peddecord and Stovall, that drew cheers from the audience.
Ficzere's own "Excerpts from Songs of Mahler" places the dancers in a more stoic light.
The four-segment piece allows the dancers to work out the classically inspired segment that smacks of contemporary movement.
A solo by Holly Shaw, to a pas de deux with Emily McLaughlin and Stovall, to a piece with four men and one woman presented by Jennifer Castaneda, Dane Arbogast, Andrew Iotcovici, Peddecord and Stovall as a whole they provide different challenges for the dancers, who met them with technically trained determination.
Closing the evening was Ficzere's rework of Marius Petipa's "Paquita."
The classically grand piece made the dancers step up a notch in presentation.
The dancers' lines were, for the most part, long in the extensions. And the strength of Stovall during his partnership with Castaneda was easy to watch, especially on the lifts.
Each variation movement was executed with style, and the dancers drew the audience into their movements.
The evening opened with a humorous work called "Pas de Combien?" and took off from there.Not only did the dancers show off their training, but the costumes and lighting added to each selection, making this production an enjoyable way to spend an evening.
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