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Oct 31, 2008 - The urbane and exciting American Ballet Theatre II visits Reno
By Jack Neal
Youth, especially extraordinarily talented youth, has its advantages. A most exciting, urbane dance event, the American Ballet Theatre II, was all too briefly at home at Reno’s Pioneer Center Sunday afternoon (11/24/08).
It’s a given that these fresh young dancers are eager to join ABT’s principal company. But there’s something so ingratiating about this wonderful collection of dancers just as they are that dares the question – “why move on when you’re already there?” Of course there’s more to learn, but wonderful dancers wrapped handsomely in the full bloom of youth are difficult to beat.
Made up of fourteen exceptional young dancers especially selected from around the world by the powers that be at ABT, the beauty and exceptional grace and athleticism of this young company - ranging in age from 16 to 19 – is thrilling.
In a program that included the challenging Pas de Deux from “Don Quixote” and a refreshing, very French piece called “Barbara,” ABT II dazzled in all departments. Opening with George Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante set to the music of Tchaikovsky, with gorgeous pearl-white costumes designed by Betty Smith, the troupe could not have been more beautifully groomed, ready to dance and ready to please.
With an exceptional, precisely grounded technique and enviable dance extension that makes one appreciate the very young who dance exquisitely, this vibrant troupe of dancers ended Sunday’s program with Glazunov’s “Raymonda.”
And with choreography by the late, great George Balanchine, the inventive Wes Chapman after the legendary Marius Petipa (“Don Quixote” and “Raymonda”), and the brilliant Aszure Barton (the entrancingly French “Barbara”), the dancers were given a host of superb moves for impressing.
Re-creating the “Don Quixote” Pas de Deux (music by Ludwig Minkus), Meaghan Hinkis and Joseph Gorak were riveting with a snap-to polish that mixed precision with poetic motion.
Dancing principal roles in Allegro Brilliante,” Sae Eun Park and Jose Sebastian offered buoyant, highly musical dancing. As featured dancers in “Raymonda,” Isadora Loyola, Brian Waldrep and Meaghan Ninkis were precise without being pedantic, joyous without being sloppy.
Accolades also to the rest of the ABT II dancers, all of whom deserve to be mentioned for their talent and what they are compelled to do as artists. Kaia Annika, April Giangeruso, Ty Gurfein, Jaime Hickey, Courtney Lavine, Calvin Royal III, Irlan Santos, Jose Sebastian and Mara Thompson join their already mentioned colleagues to dance, and dance, and dance as if their souls depended as much on dance as for air to breathe. It’s what they do for love and it shows over and over again.
Brian Sciarra’s radiant lighting designs, Santo Loquasto’s elegant costume designs (along with the aforementioned lovely costumes designed by Betty Smith), and the imaginative staging of Judith Fugate, Wes Chapman and Irina Kolpakova provided the elegant look that enhanced the dance. The only jarring moment in all this brilliance was the excessive volume that stretched much of the music out of shape.
As a curtain-raiser for ABT II, Sierra Nevada Ballet presented its “Gershwin Prelude” featuring Amanda Bena-Weber and Domingo Rubio with Mr. Rubio providing the rhapsodic choreography the two dancers brought off with such grace.
ABT II was sponsored in Reno by Rosine Bena and her up-and-coming (and very fine) Sierra Nevada Ballet. For information regarding future Sierra Nevada Ballet presentations and performances call 775-851-0808.
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