The English writer John Dryden once said that “dancing is the poetry of the foot.” That poetry was on full display by the Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet during their “Spring Mixed Repertoire Concert” at the Courtyard Theater in Plano last weekend.
With a versatile program, eclectic in content but well balanced at the same time, the audience could appreciate not only the work of the founders of Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet (DNCB), Emilie Skinner and Victoria Dolph, but that of other area dance groups and choreographers: Collin County Ballet Theatre, Danielle Georgiou Dance Group (DGDG) and choreographers Anna Ward and Michael Scott.
The selection of the pieces and the order of the program were thoughtfully done. The dancers rendered tribute to love, loneliness, chaos, happiness, personal relationships, lack of communication and the theme of community in the Native American culture. They demonstrated that dance should not only be artistically beautiful but also have social content.
The first piece was The Formation. The principal dancers, Lea Essmyer and Michael Stone, showed us a good ballet technique. Through grand jetés, pirouettes and splits they created an artistic pas de deux, revealing through the nakedness of some parts of their bodies the nakedness of their souls. The choreography by Victoria Dolph was impeccable.
DGDG was invited to present What this was never about, a modern dance piece in which 11 dancers, well distributed on the set, created movement communicating the chaos in human relationships. Four female dancers evoked sensuality through hip movement. The urban type of clothing and illumination was atmospheric, and the music by Sufjan Stevens was perfect for the scene.
In Under the Moonlight dancers Jaclyn Brewer-Pole and Brandon Chase McGee with elegance and sensuality conveyed the love in a relationship. Both were dressed in black, and they danced with cadenced steps to the music of Charlie Haden. The sequence of turns and grand jetés were realized by the dancers with great style.
In Go Band, Constance Dolph and Maddie Hill had the chance to interpret as dance the attributes of an Olympic gymnast. Without a doubt, it was a piece full of vitality and requiring great stamina. Dolph, Hill and Rebecca Moore showed great synchronization throughout, with the grand finale of the three dancers a beautiful arabesque.
Sepsis was a piece that not only was visually beautiful but also made us think. The green-and-amber ambience, waterfall noises and the transparent cloth of the costumes transported us to the jungle. The dancers moved like sleep-walkers on the stage. McGee, Brewer-Pole, Essmeyer, Lauren Gonzales and Dorian Hejny showed great control of their bodies and the space.
Skinner was inspired by the music of Niccoló Paganini to present Venetian Masquerade. It is a fresh, youthful dance in which three dancers, each dressed in a kind of swim suit, perform a series of complicated ballet moves. This was a first look at a piece that will be performed in full next fall.
Collin County Ballet Theatre presented The Nest, choreographed by Jaclyn Sartore with music by Olafur Arnalds, and performed by seven dancers dressed in blue. The company's interpretation showed great technique throughout.
In Constellations, Dolph chose original music from the Austin-based group Balmorhea, creating a very contemporary dance augmented by her choice of colors: white, black and grey. The dancing was faultless, the dancers showing great strength, balance and energy.
Audience laughter emerged during What a Doll, in which DNCB's Georgiou and Skinner took us on a trip to musical theater. In this flirtatious piece, dancer Nicholas Morris reminded us of Gene Kelly. Sandra Plunkett, in the role of the doll, appealed to our tender side.
Choregrapher Anna Ward’s The Beauty Way made a great finishing piece for the concert. With plenty of movement, life and fun, it was inspired by the music of Native American culture. In this tribute to our First Peoples, nine dancers were presented in Native American clothing and combined classical ballet with Native American dances. Emilie Skinner said about the choreography that “it is conceptually based on a community which has been all but erased from our society, but remains the axiom of the American culture.” It was an original piece, full of color and folklore.
This spring concert by Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet (and friends) was full of pleasant moments in which the artistic perfectly mixed with the social. The choreographers, dancers and production staff showed a spirit of creativity and re-invention, and took risks with their work. There were very interesting ideas that are worth watching. With great interest we await the Fall Concert.
What will this dance company have in store for us next time?