BWW Review: Verb Ballets at Breen - A Fusion of Asian and Western Choreography

Related: Chung-Fu Chang, Verb Ballets, Explore Discover

PHEASANT'S WAITING is inspired by one of the poems from Shijing (The Classic of Poetry), one of the great literary works of ancient China, which is a collection of 305 poems and songs dating from the 10th to the 7th century. Using feathers as appendages, Chang flowed with controlled movements to "reveal secrets, gain identity and find one's own language."

Next on the program was FOUR LAST SONGS, a ballet about loss and longing, also in its world premiere. Choreographed by Richard Dickinson, to the music of Richard Strauss, the well received piece, with creative lighting designed by Trad Burns, was inspired by Herman Hesse and Joseph von Eichendorff's soul-searching poetry. The angst-filled dancers' movements effectively conveyed Strauss's haunting melodies. A highlight was a Stephanie Krise and Brian Murphy duet in At Dusk.

THE LILY, using classic choreography, is based on a legend of Baleng of the Rukai Tribe, one of the native tribes of Taiwan, and set to music by David Darling and traditional music of the Rukai and Paiwan Tribes. The well danced number was filled with traditional customs and rituals. The dancers each performed with a lily held in their mouth. Historically, the lily is noted as a sumbol of remembrance.

The program concluded with BORROWING WINDS. Chang developed the choreography of the three segments, Cave Of The Winds, Kite, and Pleating Water, by selecting the music of Ondsekoza, a Japanese tiger drum group, and building images based on their sounds.

The piece probes into the dichotomy of the wind to be both an immense destructive power but also has the gentleness to calm one's soul. Using of flowing fabrics, weightless actions, and martial arts' influenced movements, the dancers effectively changed moods, and created an investigation of the ever altering powers of the wind. Visual illusions of the after effect of the wind, the confronting of the natural phenomena, the taking on of the various forms of and the ever presence of wind, are all represented.

Chang indicated that the inspiration for BORROWING WINDS came from his 2011 visit to Cleveland when he become aware of how windy it is here.

Besides Krise and Murray, the evening's highlight performances were presented by Kara Madden, Leslie J. Miller, and Ryan DeAlexandro.

Capsule judgement: EXPLORE DISCOVER, Verb Ballet's Winter, 2013 series, was highlighted by the exciting works of Chung-Fu Chang and Richard Dickinson. It was a wonderful illumination of western and eastern modern and balletic dance.

For information about Verb Ballets go to: or call 216-397-3757.

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Roy Berko Roy Berko, a life-long Clevelander, holds degrees, through the doctorate from Kent State, University of Michigan and The Pennsylvania State University. Roy was an actor for many years, appearing in more than 16 plays, 8 TV commercials, and 3 films. He has directed more than 30 productions. A member of the American Critics Association, the Dance Critics Association and The Cleveland Critics Circle, he has been an entertainment reviewer for more than twenty years.

For many years he was a regular on Channel 5, ABC-Cleveland's "Morning Exchange" and "Live on 5," serving as the stations communication consultant. He has also appeared on "Good Morning America." Roy served as the Director of Public Relations for the Volunteer Office in the White House during the first Clinton Administration.

He is a professor of communication and psychology who taught at George Washington University, University of Maryland, Notre Dame College of Ohio and Towson University. Roy is the author of 31 books. Several years ago, he was selected by Cleveland Magazine as one of the most interesting people in Cleveland.

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