By Mary Hierholzer
Over the weekend, Green Street Studios hosted a diverse ballet showcase and discussion to broaden audiences’ exposure to the art form. The six performing groups demonstrated ballet in varying capacities, from classical to contemporary to dance that can hardly be described as ballet—all with the common thread of ballet having served as a launching pad for dance.
Tai Jimenez opened the show with Mama Belly, a short solo piece distinguished by isolated movement. With fragmented motions set to a sonata that features her daughter’s voice, the luminous Ms. Jimenez—a seasoned and acclaimed dancer—shared an expressive snapshot of her life as a mother with intentionality, emotion and humor.
Tony Williams Ballet Company took the program in a much different direction next, with an original piece, La Favorita, that’s set to music by Gaetano Donizetti and about as classical as it gets. In the ballet, which the program describes as “a common play on a gentleman establishing the best match from a score of admirable young ladies,” Williams’ dancers performed with good technique (with only one quick slip) and nice touches of artistry. Jacob Hoover was a standout, especially in his variation, with clean jumps and turns. Though lovely, the ensemble did not take risks technically; their movements were reserved and lacked passion. Nonetheless, their performance was enjoyable and a good asset to the program.
Following in the tradition of classical ballet, Sage Humphries and Derek Drilon (at Friday’s performance) of Boston Ballet II performed Vasily Vainonen’s pas de deux from The Flames of Paris next, with energy and vigor. Though still just a touch fresh (and perhaps a little too facially expressive), the two young professionals demonstrated great maturity in their dancing, fully leaning into their steps with excellent technique. Ms. Humphries’ pointe work and turns were confident, and Mr. Drilon’s leaps were adept and powerful; with his trademark balance, Mr. Drilon’s pirouettes concluded with the stamina to linger in passé for a few final moments.
Next, Christian Pforr of Boston Ballet II performed Jorma Elo’s award-winning Slice to Sharp. Mr. Elo originally choreographed the contemporary solo for a woman en, but later adapted it as a male solo piece. Mr. Pforr gave a compelling performance and wonderfully brought out the fluidity in the movement, with a softness to his strength.
The contemporary ballet company SundanceX came next, with director David Sun’s Caprice. Though lively, the choreography felt junior and at times redundant; the dancers needed much tighter technique and a more engaged stage presence. However, Maya Simone Holden was a pleasure to watch in Caprice, giving an artistic and graceful performance.
The next ballet was a new neoclassical piece for two dancers en pointe by award-winning choreographer Kevin Jenkins, called Reverie, which was to Sergei Rachmaninoff’s romantic Vocalise Op. 34, No. 14 for cello and piano. With the music as his inspiration, Mr. Jenkins’ ballet was elegant and evocative tempered by sorrowful urgency (we need more ballets set to Rachmaninoff). The short piece was nothing groundbreaking, but Mr. Jenkins’ signature aesthetics made it unique and an interesting piece to watch.
Island Moving Company of Newport, R.I. gave the final performance of the evening, with Rodney Rivera’s Memoria y Vidrio. Rivera thoughtfully and creatively tackling emotional themes, and his dancers embodied the sentiment well in a range of styles. Memoria y Vidrio’s strength is in the passionate solo work and in some of the partnering that featured intricate but smooth lifts, overshadowing a few unappealing details in costuming and corps choreography.
After the performances, it was an insightful experience to hear directly from the respective choreographers and/or directors, who shared their inspirations and philosophies. To hear such a range of ideas was challenging and thought-provoking in the way that the arts need to be. I applaud Green Street Studios for curating intelligent conversation on the arts and hosting many opportunities to practice the arts, as well.
For more information on Green Street Studios and its offerings, visit their webpage.