Dance Review: Second National Choreographic Festival

Ballet West presented their Second National Choreographic Festival, Program A, l at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center’s Jeanné Wagner Theatre. This year’s festival is different in the fact that it features guest companies that are directed by women and ballet numbers that were choreographed by women.

Within the two weekends of performances the spotlight will be on four women artistic directors and six women choreographers.

Adam Sklute Artistic Director for Ballet West says: “This year I want to focus the Festival on women in leadership roles in ballet. In my opinion it is ironic that, for an art form that celebrates and focuses so much on women, they are not as well represented as directors, choreographers and leaders in the field.”

I attended the Festival on Friday May 18 and it was easy to see that Sklute had succeeded in his efforts. The first group to perform was the Richmond Ballet in a number called Akwarium. This was a wonderful modern piece choreographed by Katarzyna Sharpetowska. The dancers were in shades of bright blue and green tones with neon patterns on their costumes. The staging was simple florescent lights at varying heights. The lifts, though difficult, were made to look easy and the women were en pointe for a long time during various times in the performance very often without a partner. The Richmond Ballet company showed great strength, grace and danced with beautiful ease.

The second number was by The Washington Ballet called Myriad, choreographed by Gemma Bond. The female dancers were in varies shades of blue. The male dancer was in white. The backdrop was simple being half white and black and during the performance it the white part would get larger or smaller. This was traditional ballet with six women and one man. The male dancer danced with all six women during the performance and did a wonderful job partnering each female dancer. There was sweetness about this ballet and it highlighted the women dancers to go along with the theme of the Festival.

The third and final performance of the night was by our own Ballet West and it was a show stopper! The piece was called Jabula and it was choreographed by Natalie Weir who “made several alterations to hand craft the work for the individuality of the dancers, as well as making the central pax de deux to be en pointe.”The dancers were in Samaria style pants in a burnt sienna color with the male dancers shirtless and the female dancers in a nude colored leotard. The opening pose was powerful with a triangle opening in the dark curtain with yellow light coming in from the opening in the curtain. The male dancers moved with an earthy power and agility on their own and partnered their female dance partners with strength through some incredibly technical moves and lifts. Katlyn Addison and Adrian Fry were stunning in the pax de duex. Joshua Whitehead, Jordan Veit and Joshua Shutkind’s part of the ballet was so difficult and was done with such might and force we felt it to our very core. Ballet West’s performance was a step above the other two companies’ yes that makes me a homer but we are very blessed to have the talent we have here in our “own” ballet company in Utah.

Program A was performed May 17 through 19, 2018. Program B will be performed May 24 through 26 Evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m., May 26 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center’s Jeanne Wagner Theatre. This is a great way to spend part of your Memorial Day Weekend.

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