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Review: TALES OF A BLERD BALLERINA - Triumphant One Woman Show

Valoneecia Tolbert’s one woman masterpiece TALES OF A BLERD BALLERINA has it all and more.

Review: TALES OF A BLERD BALLERINA - Triumphant One Woman Show

There are days, especially during this unbelievably hot summer, that I wonder why I have lived in Austin all my life. It's increasingly extreme weather, traffic, and constantly changing landscape is on my mind often. But then I have a moment of clarity when I remember why I love the 'City of the Violet Crown' so much, it's the people who inhabit it. Our city is a magnet for extraordinary talent. I was witness to one of the amazingly talented humans that reside here speaking her truth on The Eloise Brooks Cullum Stage at The Vortex Theatre last night. Valoneecia Tolbert's one woman masterpiece TALES OF A BLERD BALLERINA has it all and more.

Written and performed by Valoneecia Tolbert, this show takes the audience on a poetic journey through her struggles to become the multifaceted actress we see on the stage. With a nostalgic 1980's soundtrack, she weaves her story eliciting many laughs and a few tears along the way. The result is magnificent and the audience is truly blessed to witness Tolbert and her very personal story.

Honestly, I have a peeve about one performer plays, especially those written by the actor performing it. They aren't usually my favorite because, no matter how well written, often the actor leans heavily into artifice to substitute for the lack of human interaction on stage. TALES OF A BLERD BALLERINA is a supernova compared to the firecracker of other single actor shows. One may believe I am indulging in hyperbole, but I am fighting to find words to express the impact of Valoneecia Tolbert's work of art. Her purity of spirit and her dead aim in expression makes this performance genuine and meaningful. As a young Black, self described 'nerd' or 'blerd', she takes us from infancy to her young adult life with her poetic dialogue, spectacular dance and heartfelt talent. I have rarely been witness to such a genuine moment in theatre. My fervent hope is that Tolbert continues to share this experience far and wide across the theatre world. The pressure to conform through an iron willed family struck deeply into my own heart and I know I will be turning over her words and emotion in my heart and mind for years to come.

Top kudos to the production team especially Ia Ensterä who's set design is bright, cartoonish and nostalgic. J.Mwaki's lighting design is simply gorgeous matching color and mood. Director Florinda Bryant's clear vision is purposeful only briefly shifting focus away from Tolbert to the video screen. But perhaps my favorite was the sound and video design by Johann Solo often using the superhero graphic novel type illustrations by Alexander Porter. Every song was perfectly chosen from 80's hits and gave a perfect platform for Tolbert's spectacular dancing and movement. I urge you to see TALES OF A BLERD BALLERINA, this pure work of art will make you smile, laugh and touch your heart.

TALES OF A BLERD BALLERINA

by Valoneecia Tolbert

The Vortex Theatre, Austin

July 8 - 23

Running time: Just under 90 minutes with no intermission

Tickets: $15 - $37

Vortex Webpage




From This Author - Lynn Beaver

Austin native Lynn Beaver has been active in local theatre for the past 25 years. She saw her first play in 1974 and fell completely in love with the performing arts. Lynn has been a director,... (read more about this author)


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