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Colorado Ballet's Masterworks Dazzling
With an opening on Friday February 22nd, 2013 the Colorado Ballet is presenting works set by three choreographers from the late 20th Century and the early 21st. The concert is titled "Ballet Masterworks, and is a dazzling display of Colorado Ballet's virtuosity and athleticism in dances from George Balanchine's "Theme and Variations" to a neoclassical ballet in its world premier - Val Caniparoli's "In Pieces."
On February 22nd Balanchine's "Theme and Variations" showed that choreographer's genius. This was the first time Colorado Ballet performed a Balanchine work. The dance was set to the final movement of Iiyich Tchaikovsky's "Suite No. 3 for Orchestra in G Major." That dance included solos and duets - wonderfully danced by Maria Mosina and Alexei Tyukov - interwoven with with both male and female semi-soloists and male and female corps. Of special note were the magnificent "tours en l'air" by Tyukov and the long, at times languorous, duet by he and Mosina.
Caniparoli's "In Pieces" was danced by three female and three male dancers, all six in classical tutus, as set to Poul Ruders' "Concerto in Pieces." The work was was choreographed for the Colorado Ballet, and is defined by Gil Boggs as "neoclassical," in other words contemporary to the core. The six dancers were nominally paired - Caitlin Valentine and Dimitry Trubchanov, Chandra Kuykendall and Jesse Marks, and Sharon Wehner and Christopher Ellis. The work included solos and duets - at times three simultaneous duets - of vastly varying tempo and articulation. All or most of the work required technique that showed off the six dancers' athleticism.
Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" was composed for Vaslav Nijinsky's ballet by the same name, as set on Sergei Diaghilev's Ballet Russe. The work is viewed as dealing with what Nijinsky saw as ancient pagan rituals in his native Russia, including the choosing of a sacrifice each year as seasons changed. The work was first performed in Paris in 1913. The drastic departures from what was viewed as correct in both the dance and music resulted in a notorious riot in the audience. Since then many have set dances to that Stravinsky score. Those include Shen Wei and Meryl Tankard. Both Shen Wei's and Tankard's versions bear little relationship to Nijinsky's vision. Some of these works have been presented of late in celebration of the 100th anniversary of that 1913 concert. In fact, Meryl Tankard's male solo version - "Oracle" - was recently presented at the University of Denver's Newman Center. In "Ballet Masterworks" the Colorado Ballet presented Alex Tetley's version of "Rite of Spring," using a huge cast of Colorado Ballet's athletic dancers. That presentation was striking both in choreography and in execution of the dance. Like Nijinsky, Tetley used the concept of pagan rituals, and a "chosen one," and that chosen's death and resurrection, making that resurrection almost Christ-like. Tetley even kept the long striding phrasing and famous flexed feet of Nijinsky, often having them morph rapidly to pointed toes. On February 22nd "The Chosen One" was danced by Adam Still, and "Earth Mother and Father' by Maria Mosina and Alexie Tyukov. They and the entire cast of soloists and celebrants moved with seeming ease through the rapidly changing rhythms and dissonant harmonies of Stravinsky's music in ways that made the ballet pulse. The work ended with Still raised above the cast in a way reminiscent of Christ on the cross.
Colorado Ballet's "Ballet Masterworks" will be presented again on Saturday February 23rd at 7:30 pm and on Sundays February 24th and March 3rd at 2:00 pm.
Donald K. Atwood
Copyright World Dance Reviews 2013