Fort Worth — Bringing together three prominent companies in the DFW area, Ballet Frontier of Texas joined Dallas Black Dance Theatre: Encore! and Dark Circles Contemporary Dance for one fantastic evening. Filled with stunning technique, powerful relationships, and mesmerizing beauty, each piece was carefully chosen for Ballet Frontier’s Director’s Choice: Artistic Fusion held in the W.E. Scott Theatre. Seven works comprised the night’s program resulting in a two-hour show.
Opening the show with Bach Sonata No. 1, Ballet Frontier welcomed their guests with live accompaniment from violinist Swang Lin. Eight dancers in blue halter leotards, deep purple skirts, and shiny pointe shoes twirl their wrists in circular pathways moving from the stomach up through the head space. Precise, linear legs interrupt their rounded arms and introduce sparsely sprinkled jetting elbows and wrists.
DBDT Encore! then took the stage to perform Black Rose, choreographed by Levi Marsman. A single spotlight shines on a man undulating through the darkness to his partner. Their duet is weightless—they melt into each other with a dreamlike quality. Six other dancers also clothed in black seamlessly glide onstage through striking jumps and sensual partner work. The dancers embrace Ezio Bosso’s fierce score and emit a wildly powerful energy.
Shifting back into the ballet world, Ballet Frontier Artistic Director Chung-Lin Tseng and company member Anastacia Snyder took on the choreography of Jean Paul Commelin in Lacrymosa. Tseng supports his partner in a series of pirouettes, balances, and lifts scattered with elongated cambres that highlight Snyder’s strength and flexibility. The short yet beautiful duet exudes grace and elegance through the couple’s airy steps, light touches, and vigorous lifts.
Reflection, Ballet Frontier’s final piece before intermission, was choreographed by guest artist Jay Kim. This work captures a more contemporary ballet style with the introduction of turned in feet, bent knees, and inverted arms. A total of 13 dancers in black shorts and white sheer tops fill the stage in both high and low levels as they jump into the headspace and lay in planks on the floor. The sheer number of bodies causes some formational confusion; however halfway through the piece the dancers find themselves in a striking diagonal line that adds depth and dramatizes their curving arms.
Ballet Frontier welcomed another guest choreographer, Lee Wei Chao, in the piece The Middle of the World. Dressed in solid teal and solid maroon tank dresses, the nine-dancer cast boldly fills the space. The work overflows with hand motifs as one dancer brushes off her shoulder casually and another slides her hand from her mouth to her head arduously. The intense score from Armand Amar matches the angry developes and floor rolls of the dancers, but begs for more emotional energy.
In Dark Circles Contemporary Dance’s Les Fairies, Artistic Director Joshua Peugh toys with the classic ballet Les Sylphides. A modern-day approach to a historically important piece, the work maintains the ballet blanc theme in the dancers’ white pants/shorts and white tops. Accompanied by a series of Chopin movements, the piece oozes fluidity and loveliness. Six dancers perform balletic movements like swaying balances, deep arabesques, and light sautés showered with bursts of quirky details. One such striking moment occurs as one male dancer sits on the ground while the other lays his head in his partner’s hands. In silence, he pushes from his feet to scoot the duet across the floor. Peugh’s version of Les Fairies is not only spellbinding, but also innovative.
As the closing bookend, Ballet Frontier presented Beethoven Sonata No. 1. Between the starry night images projected on the cyc, the angelic white dresses, and the familiar sounds of Beethoven, this piece teems with intense reverence from the beginning. An enthralling duet persists throughout the work as one dancer curls into a ball and kneels while another extends one endless leg to the back and rolls onto her partner in a modified leapfrog pattern. As the music increases in fervor, the dancers stand still in lines facing the audience before violently vibrating their legs. Perhaps Ballet Frontier’s most powerful piece of the evening, the dancers provide a coherent and compelling finale to the night.