Richardson — Ballet broadened its horizons in Collin County Ballet Theatre’s Ballet Fete 2018: Dance Celebration. Packed with classical ballet, jazz, and even modern and contemporary works, this show embodied the idea of versatility. With guest companies DBDT: Encore! and Texas Ballet Theater School Professional Division, Ballet Fete presented a diverse program full of promising young dancers.
Choreographed/staged by Kirt Hathaway, Classical Divertissement launched the performance into the enchanting world of classical ballet. Gentle smiles, glittered pink tutus, and uplifted gazes detailed the large group of ballerinas onstage. Arranged in perfectly symmetrical lines and semi-circles, the dancers flowed effortlessly from one formation to the next. Balletic turns, balances, and jumps appeared between the constant transitions on and offstage. Despite the pleasant tone and cheerful faces, the work became monotonous with the repetitious score by Adolph Adam and the predictable pattern of the movement phrases.
As the first guest company, Texas Ballet Theater School Professional Division brought their popular work Wavelength. Absent of the shimmering green lighting and glittered make-up from previous performances, the piece managed to maintain the magic through the confidence and dedication of the dancers. In this particular performance, the dancers delivered a more mature portrayal of the work—lingering in tricky holds, slicing their arms sharply, and keeping elasticity in their curved spines and upper bodies.
More modern in genre, Tethered, choreographed by Sarah Matzke, employed whirling windmill arms and circular themes. Paired with the ambient score “Celeste” by Pete Kuzma, the brown costumes and bent knees gave the piece an earthy feel. Dancers traveled back and forth along a diagonal pathway from the corner, mirroring the line through their stretched, reaching arms. But the most striking moment occurred as the lights dimmed to end while the group peeled their flexed feet off the floor, curling their knees up to their chest in excruciating slowness.
CCBT’s Micki Saba created the final piece of the first half: Between Light and Dark Beethoven’s brooding music instantly conjured a somber atmosphere. Three while flags hung vertically from the ceiling as a large group of dancers in red leggings and nude tops floated across the stage. With their arms in right angles parallel to the ground and their feet slowly shuffling together, a sense of rigidity and stress coated the space. From there, angular extensions, parallel formations, and linear arm positions continued the theme of clarity and tension. Captivating spatial arrangements and inquisitive partner work added another level of visual intrigue.
Texas Ballet Theater School Professional Division returned with Awakenings—a comical examination of technology and ballet—choreographed by Jiyan Dai. A semi-circle of chairs framed the stage as dancers in black tutus and black pointe shoes swayed in their seats—cell phones in hand. Immersed in their virtual worlds, the ballerinas bumped in to one another, forgot phrases, and even landed on the verge of a fight as one dancer’s phone hit the floor. While the concept was clever and entertaining, keeping the phones in the hands of the movers led to unintentional moments of tense, strained upper bodies.
The only duet of the night, Thought you were… featured an emotional glimpse of a tumultuous relationship. As both performer and co-choreographer, Lauren Gonzales partnered with Ricardo Burgess for a series of pushes, pulls, and tender brushes. At one point Burgess lifted Gonzales into the air while she hovered her legs in a slow, running motion. The lift served as a common thread throughout the piece, creating a wave-like flow.
Jolting the stage with Phoenix, DBDT: Encore! members burst from the wings with high kicks, sassy walks, and jazzy turns. Their spines undulated like snakes while keeping their extensions linear and high to the ceiling—creating multiple points of contrast in one body. This turbulent movement calmed in the second section as the dancers relaxed their focus and followed a circular momentum. Due to a technical difficulty, the music stopped halfway through—leaving the dancers to finish the section in silence. However, the company’s professionalism showed while they continued the piece with the same fervor and energy as the first half. Luckily, the sound recovered in time for the climatic ending—leaving both dancers and viewers beathless.
Set to a handful of Gershwin tunes, American Jubilee highlighted CCBT’s dancers in patriotic colors and peppy movements. Again, the large number of ballerinas onstage worked well with the ever-changing formations. Skipping from straight lines to circles, to a giant ‘X,’ the group kicked, swirled, and jumped into colorful spatial shapes. A high energy, patriotic ending to the evening.