Addison — Contemporary Ballet Dallas is not the only company in town to show off a range of ballet styles at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet flexes its muscles with An Evening with DNCB, featuring classical variations as well as original works. The 12 offerings on the program make for a bit of a long show, but of considering the short length of the variations, it’s really not that bad.
Lea Essmeyer opens the show with a sultry segment from Carmen, followed by a lively Gamzatti variation from the classical ballet La Bayadere. Co-founder Emilie Skinner sticks with the classical theme with La Deesee de la Terre (translated as “goddess of the earth”), featuring an alluring Katie Stasse and calming David Sanders.
After Whitney Hart’s charming performance of the Paquita variation, however, the pristine repetitiveness of classical ballet loses its high. Luckily, Jaclyn Brewer-Poole’s The Garden breaks up the monotony.
As the lights slowly brighten, principal dancer Mike Stone stands in stillness as arms and legs appear from behind his body, similar to the Apollo image from George Balanchine. Poole and Stone, both clad in nude colors with socks, engage in a series of partnering work, as a red-clothed, seductive Essmeyer flutters away en pointe to the other side of the stage. Her distance from the duet is a little disruptive. She has such beautiful movements, but the duet is obviously the main focus. In such a small space, the split attention is a bit cumbersome.
Still, most of the audience is probably focused on the duo. Stone is a magnificently controlled dancer. His transitions are absolutely gorgeous, and the only thing missing is a more engaging facial expression. Poole holds her own, as well, with her delicate sensitivity to music and dynamic performance quality.
Essmeyer eventually lures Stone away, but Poole doesn’t portray the sadly scorned woman; rather, she comes across as resentful, but still strong. A trio of dancers executes some unison work with her, as if they are her emotions or perhaps other women who have shared her same fate. Details of the story may be a bit fuzzy, but the structure overall is clear, the dancing magnificent. Poole has a winner on her hands.
Two other original works (split by an intermission) follow a nocturnal theme. Addison Reed’s Fractured Night, based on Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Poems of Love, contains some nicely articulated movements that fit well with the music. Co-founder Victoria Dolph-Tran’s Constellations features a very similar movement style, although the dancers’ black leotard and tights combined with a white skirt aren’t very flattering.
Four more classical variations in a row (Black Swan adagio, “Diana” pas de deux, “Prelude” from Les Sylphides, and Raymonda) all exhibit superb skills, but again, the action drags a bit. The show ends on a high note, however, with Skinner’s Yakhalo, a gypsy-inspired ballet work.
Essmeyer, Poole and Hart all prove they can be delicate, yet fiery, and Stone and Sanders show off their athleticism. Tambourines and adorned skirt wraps add a bit of brassy percussion to the lively accordion music and vigorous dancing.
Overall, DNCB gave patrons a delightful and varied evening of dance. They definitely have a wealth of talent among their dancers and choreographers and will be one to watch in the years to come.
» An Evening with DCNB has completed its run at Out of the Loop
» WaterTower Theatre's 2014 Out of the Loop Fringe Festival is 10 days of live theater, dance, music and visual art. To see the full schedule, go here.