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Ballet Masterworks

For the artists of the Colorado Ballet, their annual foray into what Balachine called "dance ballet" means an opportunity to show their talent beyond the classical canon, and show it they do.

For ballet lovers, this means that one need not book a trip to New York or San Francisco to experience exquisitely performed divertissements.

Concerto Barocco

(Left to right) Maria Mosina and Sharon Wehner
(L to R) Maria Mosina
and Sharon Wehner
Sue Daniels Photography
The evening begins with George Balachine's Concerto Barocco (1948), set to J.S. Bach's beloved Concerto in D minor for Two Violins (1st Violinist Lydia Svialovskaya, 2nd violinist Leslie Sawyer). As the curtain rises, we see eight dancers in white leotards with skirts against a saturated blue background.

On Saturday night, Maria Mosina and Susan Wehner represented the two lead violin melodies, while the ensemble supported them through the other voices of instrumentation.

How else to describe this delightful music and choreography other than "Bach made flesh." The emotionally uplifting nature of the piece is reflected in the dancers' dreamy smiles and beautiful lines through all three movements--Vivace, Largo ma non tanto, and Allegro.

During the Largo ma non tanto, we are treated to a lyrical pas de deux with Mosina and Alexei Tyukov, set off by a community of strings and spirits, while the Allegro emphasizes wholeness and unity.

In Pieces

(Left to right) Jesse Marks, Domenico Luciano, and Christopher Moulton
(L to R) Jesse Marks, Domenico Luciano,
and Christopher Moulton
Sue Daniels Photography
Two years ago, the Colorado Ballet performed the world premiere of this energetic dance by Val Caniparoli set to music by Paul Ruders. If the "pieces" referenced in the title were a painting, one might be reminded of Georges Braque, whose cubist works are remarkable for the cohesiveness of their multifaceted images. One moment we glimpse wild atmospherics, another angle celebrates a jazzy mood; still another facet trumpets tribal rhythms and physicality; then the music ceases and we have silhouettes and silence, followed by energetic solos and pas de deux that carry us to the finale, which ties it up.

The unisex gray hoop tutus and the striking lighting reinforce an abstract, sometimes quirky, feel. Excellent work from the three pairs (Asuka Sasaki and Domenico Luciano, Chandra Kuykendall and Jesse Marks, and Sharon Wehner and Christopher Moulton).

Fancy Free

Picture yourself in Times Square when Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped his famous photograph of the sailor kissing the nurse. Sixteen months earlier Jerome Robbins debuted this delightful piece set to the music of Leonard Bernstein (and a clip from Dee Dee Bridgewater's "Big Stuff") around similar themes: youth, desire, and euphoria, with occasional glimpses of reality.

(Left to right) Francisco Estevez, Jesse Marks, Kevin Gael Thomas, and Tracy Jones
(L to R) Francisco Estevez, Jesse Marks,
Kevin Gael Thomas, and Tracy Jones
Sue Daniels Photography
Three sailors on leave, full of bravado, hit the big city for some brews and to try their luck at turning a gal's head and having some fun. Robbins, like his contemporaries Rodgers and Hammerstein, doesn't shy from the darker side of male-female relationships, the power tripping, competition, braggadocio, and forceful exhibitions, while suffusing the encounters with healthy doses of irony and disappointment.

Flashy solos by sailors (Francisco Estevez, Kevin Gael Thomas, and Jesse Marks) and evocative come ons by the dames (Shelby Dyer, Dana Benton, and Tracy Jones) make for a series of fun encounters. Take away the sailor uniforms and '40's dresses and fast forward 13 years and you can feel the roots of the West Side Story collaboration, particularly "Dance at the Gym," between the same two artists.

The Colorado Ballet's presentation of Ballet Masterworks runs through March 1st. For tickets: coloradoballet.org.

Bob Bows

 

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