With the “Diversity in Dance” concert, Dayton Ballet highlighted what works well for this regional ballet company. Once again the tantalizing prospects for a full fledged renaissance are on display. From the work of legendary choreographer and co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet to the rich and tantalizing movement construction of Susie Payne, This was a concert of bountiful returns.
I have to impress upon the Dayton arts community what a rarity it is to see classical and or neoclassical ballet repertory being presented with a live orchestra. This symbiosis of elements adds a third contextual layer of interpretation and experience for the viewer. Having performed to live orchestration many times myself as a performer it changes how and what is being danced at the molecular level not to mention the spiritual. The fact that we got to see it in conjunction with the re-staging of a Gerald Arpino masterwork is worth the price of admission.
“Reflections” was a neoclassical master class in what is usually missing from present day choreographers, innate musicality and the ability to translate it into choreography. With it’s almost Balanchine-like phrasing and musical weaving, The Dayton Ballet dancers accompanied by the Dayton Philharmonic under the masterful baton of Neil Gittleman kicked off this concert with a Joie de Vivre that was at once effervescent and steely in design. In shades of gray and pink, the women and men weaved beautifully rendered lattice work of patterns and tableaus. with particular attention being payed to several playful, athletic variations and Pas de Deux’s, most notably Abby Phillips and Evan Pitts, which left an indelible impression long after the bows.
The second work on the concert was “Dreams of Flight” by Dayton original, Susanne Payne. This was a bravura choreographic work that showcased the incredible skills of the Dayton Ballet men. In her program notes she says the work was loosely inspired by “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo and that it is rigorously athletic. The latter part was an understatement as the piece evolved and built to it’s rousing conclusion. While Susanne was weaving her metaphoric choreographic alchemy, you could not help but be pulled into its intoxicating adrenaline-spiked power. This was a visceral, heart-stopping epic work that in lesser hands could have been maudlin and overwrought. “Dreams of Flight” tapped into layers of emotional, intellectual and spiritual connectivity wrapped up in a rich and utterly original movement vocabulary. It was in turns, playful and childlike, mature and insightful. While it was danced with athletic vigor and panache, this was a triumphant success for not only the dancers and the choreographer but also the company itself. I have always stated that when a dance company breaks out of routine and embraces the new and unexpected, we all walk away winners.
Your next chance to see the Dayton Ballet in action will be in the upcoming show, New Directions.
The show opens this Thursday March 20th and runs through Sunday March 23rd at the Victoria Theatre.
This performance includes:
Dermot Burke’s “Fête des Courtiers”
Susie Payne’s “Interactions”
Jessica Lang’s “From Foreign Lands and People”
Karen Russo Burke’s “Canyons”
Buy New Directions tickets online or by calling
the box office at (888) 228-3630.