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Ballet Nouveau Colorado
Not Flips-And-Tricks – Just Kick-Ass Dance
Lissy Garrison, Ballet Nouveau Colorado’s (BNC) Executive Director, is fond of saying that BNC is “transforming from good to great.” She just may be correct. At least BNC’s latest concert titled “Garrett Ammon’s Rock Ballets” is a darn good start on such a transformation. That is in part due to the depth in proficiency resident in the BNC dancers, and in Ammon’s abilities to use that proficiency in well-crafted choreography.
The concert presents three of Ammon’s “rock ballets,” each set to the songs of one artist; “Mediate” to music of INXS, “Love of My Life” to works by Queen, and “An Occasional Dream” to songs of David Bowie. In each ballet Ammon establishes and holds just enough narrative to allow building of dance characters, provide a through line for the dance, and hold audience interest. Most of those narratives are based in male/female love affairs, with an accordingly large number of male/female duets featuring the male as the strong partner. Those include a duet by Eizabeth Towles and James Joyner to close “Mediate,” duets by Meredith Strathmeyer and Jason Franklin in “Love of My Life,” and by Franklin and Strathmeyer, David Barbour and Megan Courtney, and Sarah Tallman and Colby Foss in “An Occasional Dream.” All, literally all, the duets are stunning. The choreography uses the music well, without ever becoming slavish to it, often providing simple and elegant walking phrases in counterpoint to rapid tempo and higher dynamic in the sound scores. Ensemble work varies from butt kicking “production” phrasing, to the subdued walking, or total stillness with solos coming off of all of those. Often ensemble phrasing is in juxtaposition to slow turning, or stillness in principle characters. As happens when one places three large dances of the same genre up by the same choreographer in one concert, Ammon’s choreographic devices do suffer some from overexposure, e.g., those slowly turning principles in counterpoint to higher tempo ensemble work, or the Ammon trademark erratic duet partnering that almost always features flexed feet on the females. But, Ammon did get it right in allowing each ballet just the right amount of time, thus not exceeding performance life, and keeping his audience engaged throughout.
Of special note in the Halloween performance was Meredith Strathmeyer’s abilities and striking presence, as well as Ammon’s use of her long arms and fingers to make major statements in quiet subdued phrases, followed by huge movements that went through her entire body. Vance McKenzie’s lighting revealed and augmented the choreography just right, without ever becoming intrusive, and costumes designed by Bruce Bui, Dawn Fay, Shawna Hinton, and Garrett Ammon did much to realize both choreography and characters in ways that “worked.”
For some time BNC tried to present big dances in small venues. The dances suffered accordingly. The company now presents work on larger stages like the Lakewood (Colorado) Cultural Center and the Pinnacle Events Center in North Denver. The work reads so much better in those venues. BNC will present “Garrett Ammon’s Rock Ballets” two more times at the Lakewood Cultural Center (November 1, 2008 at 8;00 PM and Sunday the 2nd at 2:00 PM) and three times at the Pinnacle Events Center (November 7 and 8 at 8:00 PM and at 2:00 PM on the 9th.
Donald K. Atwood MFA, Ph.D. email@example.com
© Copyright World Dance Reviews 2008