Making the leap

Festival Ballet, Dance:Close-Up!, and more
By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  February 9, 2006

FESTIVAL BALLET is staging “an evening of love.”A full weekend of dance performance is on the docket: Festival Ballet Providence’s Valentine’s program of dances with love themes (February 10-12 at the VMA Arts & Cultural Center); the Rhode Island Independent Arts Collective’s Dance: Close-Up!, a potpourri of choreographers and performance artists (February 10 and 11 at the Carriage House); and the third Africanist Weekend Biennale Festival, celebrating traditional and contemporary African dance (February 10-12 at Brown University’s Ashamu Dance Studio).

Festival’s Balanchine & MORE will present two world premieres by Gianni Di Marco and Viktor Plotnikov, a recreation of George Balanchine’s choreography for his renowned Allegro Brillante, and Diana and Acteon, staged by Festival’s artistic director Mihailo Djuric.

Balanchine created the Allegro in 1956 to Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 3 Op. 75. Using the classical forms learned in his native Russia, he molded a contemporary ballet style that was characterized by its musicality. Balanchine matched Tchaikovsky’s romantic piano phrases with wide-reaching arms and arabesques. When the concerto changes to a spare staccato sound, the movements become smaller and closer to the body. Balanchine has said that Allegro Brillante “contains everything I know about the classical ballet in 13 minutes.” Indeed, the Balanchine Foundation had to give permission to Festival to stage the ballet, and they sent a former dancer and ballet repetiteur, Elyse Borne, to teach the piece to Festival’s dancers. “Doing the Balanchine is something I’ve intended for a long time,” Djuric noted. “I hope I will be able to do more of his work in the future. Elyse suggested some other pieces. She thought the dancers were strong and very artistic and very good.”

Diana and Acteon, based on the Greek myth of the hunter-goddess and her lover, with lots of bow-and-arrow images in the movement. Di Marco, who created Festival’s Scheherazade in 2005, has choreographed an engaging and steamy new work based on the songs of Cuban singer Celia Cruz, titled Azúcar, after her signature rallying cry.

Plotnikov, choreographer for Festival’s well-received Carmen and The Widow’s Broom, chose the contemporary Aquilarco, by Giovanni Sollima, with vocals by Robert Wilson and lyrics by Christopher Knowles, an autistic young man. Thus, the title, Loof and Let Dime, is taken from one of the three movements Plotnikov selected. His choreography is as abstract as the music but the duets for the six couples include visually stunning and emotion-grabbing moments of connection and affection. “It’s an evening of love,” Djuric reiterated. “Love for life, for movement, not just the pairing off. Each of the pieces is beautiful on its own, so everyone can find what they really like.”

RIIAC’s Dance: Close-Up! will include modern dance, Butoh, neo-burlesque theater, physical theater, and puppetry. RIIAC is chaired by Nathan Andary, founder and artistic director of Andary Dance, who wanted to establish a choreographer’s showcase that wasn’t tied to a particular company in order to “fortify the dance community and create new outlets for artists from the worlds of dance, theater, music, text, performance art, and film/video.”

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