Dance Review: Second National Choreography Festival (Part 2)

The National Choreography Festival’s second performance at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Jeanne Wagner Theatre concluded the Ballet West 2017-18 season on a high note. The second event was just as amazing as the first with a totally different program and two additional guest ballet companies. Like last week, the program highlighted women in key roles in the ballet community. The Cincinnati Ballet company is led by artistic director Victoria Morgan and their piece was choreographed by Jennifer Archibald.

The other guest company was the Charlotte Ballet led by artistic director Hope Muir and their piece was choreographed by Robyn Mineko Williams. Ballet West’s piece was choreographed by Africa Guzman a guest choreographer from Spain who said of her number: “Starting from music as my main source of inspiration, in Ezio Bosso’s score I was able to find the strength and sensitivity that I wanted to develop in Sweet and Bitter, transforming the most classic line and playing with the limits of gravity.”

BALLET WEST NEWS— As this season came to a close we learned from Joshua Jones, Director of Communications for Ballet West that, “Senior Corps Elizabeth Weldon is retiring and leaving Ballet West to pursue other interests. She has been with Ballet West since 2010. First Soloist Beau Pearson who joined Ballet West in 2007 is also stepping away from full time dancing and will be joining the staff. He will stay on as a videographer and photographer. We will see him in non-dancing character roles” which is wonderful news. He has been a highlight in all the roles I have even seen him dance and perform in and so happy we will see him on stage still. He was one of the best Mother Buffoon and wicked step sisters I have ever seen. We also learned that Rex Tilton and Allison BeBona will be having a baby in December 2018. Allison will move to the administrative offices of Ballet West until the baby is born and plans on returning to dance in the Spring of 2019.

The first piece in the program was by The Cincinnati Ballet was called Myoho. The female dancers were in gold leotards with high collars and the male dancers were in maroon tights with a gold stripe to give it that military look and the tights were a somewhat high waisted to match the female collars. The dance was a modern ballet with some undertones of classic movements. There were some really smooth and delicate moves and then suddenly there were sharp angles interjected into the piece that add a lot of interest and dynamics.

The music was a dramatic to fit with the sharp staccato hand, feet and head movements of the dancers. This piece just had its world premiere in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 26, 2018 so a very new work was presented to the Utah audience.

The second piece in the program was by The Charlotte Ballet called To Clear. The dancers were in street clothes. The staging was simple. Two dancers dressed in black, sitting on chairs holding a spotlight on the other dancers in the company. This was a very modern ballet in fact to me it felt more like modern dance, something that our own RDT would do. It was very good and had an interesting use of a chair. The moves were connected in such a way that it seemed to cause a domino effect as the dancers touched each other. I asked my friend who attended with me how she would describe this piece and she said “Syfy meets the streets.”  This fit the music and the feel of the dance number. This piece had its world premiere on January 26, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The last piece was performed by Ballet West and it was beautiful with the dancers all in white—the world-premiere of Bitter and Sweet. I certainly felt both “flavors” throughout the number. The main dancers in this piece were Emily Adams and Rex Tilton. They shared a wonderful chemistry on stage and both portrayed so much emotion in both their movements and facial expressions it made the number much more powerful. Rex was a wonderful partner to Emily and both had very difficult and technical moves that were performed with power and strength. The other dancers Jenna Rae Herrera, Gabrielle Salvatto, Katie Critchlow, Joshua Shutkind, Oliver Oguma and Kyle Davis were dynamic in their performances. All danced in sync, showed amazing partnering skills and helped us feel the happiness and sadness of the ballet. They were a wonderful addition to Rex and Emily.

The women who choreographed and who directed the guest companies were incredible and it was so moving to see these new works. Adam Sklute said, “what is exciting to me is that the women in both programs represent a cross current of both established and new leadership and each of them, plus all the choreographers, display unique visions for ballet and dance.” From here the visions are stunning and I can’t wait to see what the future brings as women step into these roles more and more.

I certainly am looking forward to the new season of 2018/19 where Ballet West will be performing Jewels, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Onegin and host The World Choreographic Festival. Season tickets are on a sale now for more information call 801-869-6920 visit

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