Richardson — Offering young dancers the opportunities to perform outside of traditional recitals, Collin County Ballet Theatre (CCBT) prides itself in reaching wider audiences through their annual Ballet Fete production. In addition to their own apprentice and student companies, the production always invites guest artists to join in the fun — this year welcoming back the prestigious Texas Ballet Theater (TBT) and their studio company. With this year’s theme of “Dance Emotions,” the mixed-repertory show dabbled in classical ballet, contemporary aesthetics, and even a bit of jazz—resulting in a pleasant performance full of promising young talent.
The CCBT Apprentice Company opened the night with Bloom — a serene blend of waltz steps, reaching relevés, and changing levels. Ludovicio Einaudi’s soothing score complimented the repetitive choreography from Jaclyn Brewer-Poole and paired nicely with the technical level of the dancers. With a bit more rehearsal and a closer attention to staging and light placement, the piece exhibits the potential of these young dancers.
In silhouette lighting, members of the Texas Ballet Theater Studio Training Company bounced and glided into angular lines. Wearing black and white tutus reminiscent of swirling Frisbees around their hips, the cast of Ballet 37 moved with rolling shoulders, slicing arms, and abrupt turns. After a chaotic opening section, a series of solos brought cohesiveness to the work. Of these solos, one stand-out performance featured the impressive power and control of Akihiro Yoshimoto.
Shifting into the emotional realm of contemporary movement, Don’t Worry, They’re Here memorialized the tragic loss of lives occurring from school shootings across the country. In four movement sections, choreographer Lauren Gonzales explored themes of innocence, sadness, and childhood through theatrical facial expressions, cheerful partnering, and a dramatic use of props. The dancers characterized students of all ages skipping, rolling, and leaping playfully before a melancholy music shift initiated sudden falls and desperate reaches. While the dancers embraced these concepts enthusiastically, the work as a whole lacked clarity of plot—seeming to only brush the surface of an emotionally charged subject.
Passings stripped away the sentiment of earlier works by engaging in a more contemporary ballet aesthetic. In simple black leotards and tights, dancers en pointe clicked their finger symbols together in the introductory silence—emitting a percussive sound that continued with Rene’ Aubry’s mysterious musical accompaniment. The sound change introduced a welcome auditory variation from previous works. As the cast slid and turned throughout the space, busy visuals emerged from the incohesive formations. However as the piece continued, a moment of clarity surfaced as the dancers huddled together within the spotlight and rolled gently off of one another—organizing the large group into digestible clumps of unraveling arms and peeling legs.
Upping the technical proficiency of the evening, Texas Ballet Theater’s Sleeping Beauty Act III Pas de Deux promoted the company’s upcoming Bass Hall debut of this favorite story ballet. With Paige Nyman and David Schrenk reprising the roles of Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund, the impressive duet left viewers breathless with awe. Nyman’s sweet, understated demeanor brought a refreshing, youthful approach to the iconic role, while Schrenk provided astounding leaps with incredible height. From their pristine turns to their delightful chemistry, the duo was the highlight of the night.
Returning with Intention, the TBT Studio Training Company cut through the stage with X shapes and quick jumps—complimenting Phillip Glass’ zealous score. Flexed palms, nimble weight-shifts, and soft back-bends produced a symmetrical, rhythmic choreographic style from Hailey von Schlehenried. My only wish for this work was more follow-through of the movements—cleaner, completed execution of each slice, pull, and turn.
Finishing on a high-note, Jaclyn Brewer-Poole’s 31+ paired her peppy style with a collection of iconic Beatles jams. Yellow Submarine burst with cheery smiles and jazz hands as a huge cast of movers in white costumes swam across the stage.
Eleanor Rigby furthered the lively spatial arrangements through stretchy lunges, rippling spines, and parallel leg positions—providing a never-ending sequence of fluid phrases.
With slow walks, indulgent head-rolls, and heavy arm swings, the cast portrayed a tumultuous visualization of Let It Be. The sheer number of dancers caused a somewhat messy appearance.
In the most charming section, a handful of dancers donned pointe shoes for a string of lively kicks, buoyant pony steps, and frequent formation changes. Here Comes the Sun brought a cleaner look to the cluttered staging of previous songs.
Closing with All You Need is Love, the entire cast returned for a flurry of hugs, pointed fingers, and quirky inward knee twists—leaving the audience brimming with vivacious energy from these young performers.