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Ballet West's Iconic Classics: a Trio of Masterworks

Tuesday November 10, 2015

This weekend, Ballet West delighted audiences with its opening of Iconic Classics, a program chosen specifically for each piece's significance to the world of dance, and what it meant for the direction of ballet. Starting on Friday, November 6, audiences wandered through the glittering lobby of the Capitol Theatre, making their way towards their seats, settling in, and preparing for a night of playfulness, emotion, and brilliance.

The curtain opens on a majority of the Ballet West Academy students—these students, ranging from ages 4 or 5, all the way to their early 20s, have the opportunity to showcase their talents and share the stage the professional company will take directly after their showing. These lovely dancers are raising money for scholarship programs through the academy.

We next see a minimalistic, cartoon-like setting: a cozy bar, with the backdrop of a city at dusk. Three sailors appear in Fancy Free, a Jerome Robbins classic. This 1940s-inspired piece combines jazzy elements of the post-war American music scene with the nostalgic sounds of classical, orchestral music, creating an interesting dynamic between what the audience expects the movement to be, versus what it truly is. The sailors dance in unison, but get to showcase their individual styles, especially after two female passersby get sucked into the competition. We experience each of the macho ways in which the men attempt to woo the women: the goofy showoff, the sensitive innocent, ending with the seductive flare of the “master of rhythm.” This fun, upbeat, dynamic piece ends with the guys back together again in a comic turn of events, only to toy with temptation once more as the curtain lowers.

Overgrown Path thrives on motifs and magnetic movement between dancers, and is made especially unique by its exclusive structure—bouncing from group movements, to trios, to duets, solos, and more group movements, in a sporadic yet enticing format. The music (executed nearly perfectly by the Ballet West orchestra), costumes, and setting all lend themselves to the overall nostalgic and moving atmosphere created through the Horton and Graham-inspired movement. Trying to break free from an unseen force, be it love, the past, or convention, the energy of this piece remains high and electric even throughout the more emotional movements. In summary: Ballet West performs Kilián at an impossibly high caliber.

The finale of the collection, Symphony in C, extinguishes the performance with brilliance, mastery, and awe-inspiring majesty. Sans storyline, this piece was created by the great George Balanchine, a man who enjoyed showcasing the athletic qualities of his dancers, while maintaining the beauty and decadence of classical ballet veiled over. As we travel through the four movements, ranging from quiet, deep, and emotional movement synonymous to that of the stoic aura of Swan Lake, to lively and jubilant jumping variations, every part of the stage is utilized and dancing, from the corps artists all the way up to the principals. With all 50 dancers on stage to finish out the piece, we’re transported into a medley of synchronized limbs, a kaleidoscope of white tutus and sparkling tiaras. As a closer, this piece knocks it out of the park, and leaves the audience jumping up for a standing ovation, mesmerized by the vividness of this elegant sea of glistening, bright white beauty.

After a night of Iconic Classics, you'll leave inspired, craving more, and counting down the days until Ballet West's spring season opening to see what they've come up with next.

The production runs through November 14th. Get your tickets here.