Review: Spring Forward | Contemporary Ballet Dallas | Arts Mission Oak Cliff

Spring in Their Step

Contemporary Ballet Dallas keeps it calm and subdued with its Spring Foward concert at the Latino Cultural Center.

published Thursday, April 30, 2015

Photo: Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image
Contemporary Ballet Dance performs Spring Forward

Dallas — That brash edge we expect from Contemporary Ballet Dallas came in small bursts Friday night at the Latino Cultural Center. Mostly, the works were subdued, particularly the three premieres: Allegory of Spring, Relative Chaos and Ballet de Valse.

Addison Reed’s Allegory of Spring had a soft, dreamy quality, set to a variety of music (Sleeping at Last, Antonio Vivaldi) and featuring Whitney Hart and David Sanders as the lead couple, and corps members Kayla Giard, Emily Gnatt, Laura Pearson and Katie Stasse. In cream-colored tunics and pointe shoes, the dancers crisscross the stage with pique turns and leaps, and in one daring section, Mr. Sanders tosses and catches Ms. Hart. All six sweep off.

Photo: Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image
Contemporary Ballet Dance performs Spring Forward

Since the company is only 14 years old, even the three older works were not that old, chosen presumably for their popularity, and all created by artistic director Valerie Shelton Tabor. Assercitus!, set to Gregorian chants, has a vaguely Martha Graham feel, with Marielle McGregor in cream color dress serving as the leader of her flock: Danielle Georgiou, Tamara McCarty, Sandra Pudasaini and Lisa Stoller. They leap low to the ground with heads down, arms curved. At the end, the acolytes retreat one by one, leaving Ms. McGregor bathed in a golden light to walk slowly backward. The mood is subdued yet full of ardor.

If “city” means noise and bustle, then Ms. Tabor’s CityScapes offers at least the first half: the music of The Cure (“The Love Cats,” “Close to Me” and “Lovesong”) is nothing if not grating. The color switch is the cleverest thing in CityScapes: there are three colors—lime green, rose, and dark blue—and each color shows up in different outfits.

Jennifer Obeney’s imaginative Relative Chaos made use of unexpected groupings of eight women, four on pointe, four on slippers. Dim lighting, gray dresses with a high hemline at the back and short in front, and glittering headpieces, suggested a distant universe where people merge and disperse. The bouncy, vibrating music of Nigel Stanford’s “Cymatics,” “Sea of Tranquility,” “Far Centaurus,” “Dark Sun” and “Rapture” added a Star Wars feel, giving the ballet even more of a sharp edge.

You can hardly go wrong by using the Beatles as your springboard, and Ms. Tabor’s A Change is Coming sets the carefree mood with two barefoot hippies in headscarfs (Danielle Georgiou and David Sanders) dancing freely to “Nowhere Man.” Interlopers Emily Gnatt, Katie Stasse and Lea Zablocki show up as conformists who move in tandem and on pointe. All five make peace doing their own thing, dancing to “Imagine.”

Breaking from tradition, Ms. Tabor offered a classical ballet—no Nine Inch Nails this time—in Ballet de Valse, set to the music of Frederic Chopin. (Michel Fokine’s 1909 Les Sylphides used the same music and was famous for being the first plotless ballet.)  Six dancers in long tutus—two in purple, two in blue, and two in white—move with silky ease, leaping and spinning, and holding long arabesques. The romantic atmosphere peeks through.


» Margaret Putnam has been writing about dance since 1980, with works published by D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, The Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, Playbill, Stagebill, Pointe Magazine and Dance MagazineThanks For Reading

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Spring in Their Step
Contemporary Ballet Dallas keeps it calm and subdued with its Spring Foward concert at the Latino Cultural Center.
by Margaret Putnam

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