The joy of dancing shone from the Jeanne Wagner Theater stage Wednesday when Ballet West closed its 2007-08 season with an evening of repertoire collectively called "Innovations."
Four world premieres, three of which were choreographed by Ballet West dancers, and one revival were performed in a well-sequenced program.
The revival was "Equinoxe," by Oregon Ballet Theatre founding artistic director James Canfield. The 1986 work was a balance between movement, music and lighting.
With undersea-like fluidity and breathtaking (and sometimes one-handed) lifts done to the synthesizer score by Jean-Michael Jarre, the work set the tone for the evening.
After intermission, the three much-anticipated, works by Ballet West dancers premiered.
First up was the classically-inspired contemporary work "One," choreographed by principal dancer Christopher Ruud. Backed by solo violinist Emily Day-Shumway, Christiana Bennett and Michael Bearden took turns dancing for each other (and the audience) on a stark and empty stage, which only emphasized the dancing within the two movements. The first movement was light and full of energy and the second was more contemplative and moody. Both focused on the partnering chemistry, which, was nothing short of stunning.
Ballet West artist Megan Furse's "Le Chant de la Terre" swept the audience away to a lighter and happier place. Laced with carefree classical steps, lifts and moves, the eight dancers backed by the solo piano composition of Deodat de Severac captured an innocence of simpler times through dreamy movements and smooth transitions.
The third work was Ballet West soloist Peggy Dolkas' "Yes, but How Did You Get There?" The only classical-looking thing on stage was on old phonograph machine. And once the music started, nothing remained classical.
The jitterbug, ballroom and contemporary dance filled the stage as the music, a mix by DJ Robatroid, blasted from the speakers. The work was nonconventional, but the seven dancers rose to the occasion, with some innovated grooves.
Closing the evening was the world premiere of Susan Shields' "Grand Synthesis." Shields, an associate professor at George Mason University's dance department, created the work that emphasized precision, timing and technical execution.
By adding touch of syncopated movements to a line of symmetrical line-ups, Shields gave "Grand Synthesis" some visually-surprising dimension.The only complaint was the fact that "Innovations," which was designed to foster and present new ballets, was too short. When the final curtain dropped, it was clear the audience wanted more a lot more.
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