The Ballet Herald: ‘Ballet Arizona Review: Inspiring Glimpses of the Past, Present, and Future’
February 11th, 2021
Filmed in the company’s on-site Dorrance Theatre, Ballet Arizona’s Inspire program fulfills the promise that its title bears.
It is not only an exhibit of his company’s technical and theatrical range from classical to contemporary that Artistic Director Ib Andersen has curated but also an intimate digital environment in which we hear directly from him and the dancers. They speak with an eloquence, elegance, and effervescence when sharing historical tidbits, creative impetuses, or what their favorite junk foods are.
“Inspire” very fittingly begins and ends with works that the Ballet Arizona’s director is familiar with, the first an homage to his professional roots and the closer a snapshot of the company’s present and future.
Pas de Sept from A Folk Tale was choreographed by August Bournonville in 1854 for Royal Danish Ballet, Andersen’s alma mater at which he became the youngest principal ballet dancer in the company’s history at the age of 20. In true Bournonville fashion, Pas de Sept engages the audience with lightening speed petit allegro and beautiful épaulement.
For those familiar with the Pas de Six from Napoli, this excerpt for seven dancers follows a similar rhythm and mold with a series of evolving solos, duets, and group dances. Particularly stand out are Rochelle Anvik and Ricardo Santos; the former for her ease, precision, and stylistic interpretation, the latter for accomplishing the challenging technical demands all the while maintaining his charming presence.
American ballet audiences are likely to have become familiar with Andersen when he joined the New York City Ballet in 1980. The Balanchine influences of the decade he spent dancing there are apparent in his new work for Ballet Arizona, Goldberg Variations I.
The casting of the piece was not only determined by physical distancing restrictions due to coronavirus, but also the personal milestones of his dancers.
Real life couple Jillian Barrell and Nayon Iovino are expecting a child soon and Andersen chooses to incorporate Barrell’s five-month pregnancy into Goldberg, a kind of prelude to the rest of the piece. It’s a bit reminiscent of the birth prologue in Balanchine’s Apollo.
In fact, the couple’s tender duet in royal blue costumes gives way to nine more celebratory movements with dancers dressed in all white, marking a clear stylistic and visual distinction. The choreographer’s goal is to convey the life and joy of dance and this is achieved successfully with playful interaction, intricate footwork, and lofty jumps. It is in this ballet that we get to see the company working as a whole; their unified energy is contagious.
Sandwiched between the tutus, skirts, poetic shirts, and white tights are two contemporary works. Iovino’s pas de deux from his 2014 Inner Layer is an exploration of reconciliation and forgiveness in which we see Anvik trade pointe shoes for socks in a passionate and visceral conversation with her partner, Ethan Price.
Alejandro Cerrudos’s Pacopepepluto puts the spotlight on three of Ballet Arizona’s fine male dancers – Iovino, Helio Lima, and Alejandro Mendez. Clothed in mere tight, flesh-toned shorts each of the three men command their solos set to Dean Martin’s “Memories Are Made Of This”, “In The Chapel In The Moonlight” and “That’s Amore”, respectively, fusing raw physicality, sinuous expressivity, and timely humor.
Ballet Arizona’s Inspire program is only available to stream for the 24 hours beginning November 7 @ 7:00pm MST, so there’s a small window of time for you to still catch it. For more information about the program, check out the calendar below.