Shelby Stanley and Brandon McGee in Contemporary Ballet Dallas\' \"Of Vice & Virtue\"

Review: Of Vice & Virtue | Contemporary Ballet Dallas | Arts Mission Oak Cliff

Beauty From All Angles

Contemporary Ballet Dallas explores vice and virtue in a strong showing at the Latino Cultural Center.

published Monday, April 21, 2014

Photo: Ken Smith
Erin Boone performs in Contemporary Ballet Dallas' "Of Vice & Virtue"

Dallas — Too bad there is no fast-forward for dance events. It would have come in handy for the opening work offered by Contemporary Ballet Dallas Friday night at the Latino Cultural Center. In Jennifer Obeney’s The Daisy, Sandra Plunkett (the Daisy in question) finds herself in the midst of much more delicate flowers, the Rose (Erin Boone), the Lily (Juliann Hyde) and the Iris (Colleen Pagnotta). We know she doesn’t fit in because they are ballet dancers on pointe shoes wearing pretty, filmy dresses, while she is a gawky modern dancer on slippers. Somehow, she is saved from humiliation by The Lark (Addison Reed), who dances happily with her.

Set to a ménage of music (Chase This Light & Rock is Dead, What Makes You Beautiful, etc.) with awkward breaks in between, the dance went on and on.

Fortunately, nothing else sagged. Although the program was called “Of Vice and Virtue,” one of the common threads was discovering one’s real beauty. To some extent, that seems to be what The Daisy was about, and certainly so for Lindsay Bowman’s The Ugly Duckling. Surrounded by three sleek Ducks (women on pointe shoes and black leotards) and a sensuous Mama Duck (Paula Ulery-Reynolds), Stephen Raikes pops out of his egg staggering and bumbling on wobbly legs. They mock him, but—to the The Doors’ “Break on Through”—the Ugly Duckling sheds his bulky white trousers and embarks on a jaunty romp with his former tormentors. But doesn’t he become a swan?

In Eileen McKee’s The Dryad Ms. Hyde is ever the limpid Dryad, fresh and eager, but when she finds herself in the city, she comes in for a shock. She’s out of place and the City Girls are anything but friendly. Back in her own milieu and encouraged by the Nature Spirit (Ms. Ulery-Reynolds), she regains her confidence and natural grace.

For a change in mood, guest company 6 O’Clock Dance Theatre offered an intense War, with eight dancers looming like giant dangerous birds. Artistic director and choreographer Zach Ingram (former company member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Dallas Black Dance Theatre) was particularly powerful and polished.

In Valerie Shelton Tabor’s Threads, Ms. Boone, Whitney Hart and Jaclyn Brewer Poole leap and spin in different directions, coming together to hold hands and weave in and out so that the moment suggested the flow of ribbons. They end in a simple tableau with one dancer on her knee, another with a leg lifted, and the third standing still.

If Threads was serene and orderly, Ms. Shelton Tabor’s Coalessence was turbulent. Set the Beatles’ Come Together, four dancers in bright colored 60s garb slink, slither and run into each other’s arms, are caught, and run off again. While Courtney Beacham, Danielle Georgiou, Brandon McGee and Ms. Ulery-Reynolds capture the mood of the time, it is the wild Ms. Georgiou who really lets herself go.

In a departure from other programs, classical music had more of a presence—and a welcome one too—used effectually in Ms. Shelton Tabor’s Sunday in the Park (Debussy), Ms. Boone’s The Lost Dream (Hanan Townshend and Bach), and Lea Essmyer’s The Lyra (Samuel Barber). 

» 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 Magazine.

Photo: Ken Smith
Shelby Stanley and Brandon McGee in Contemporary Ballet Dallas' "Of Vice & Virtue"
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Beauty From All Angles
Contemporary Ballet Dallas explores vice and virtue in a strong showing at the Latino Cultural Center.
by Margaret Putnam

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