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Melia Kraus-har

Melia Kraus-har Melia is a dance historian, educator, and writer. Melia’s educational background is in Communication, Theater, and Dance and her movement training is in ballet, modern, somatic (certified Stott Pilates instructor), social dance, and circus arts. Melia's perspective on movement focuses on gender, sexuality, and socio-political connections. Currently based in Nashville, TN, she covers performances up and down the East Coast.



BWW Review: ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER at Tennessee Performing Arts Center
March 3, 2020

It was humbling listening to audience members remark upon the beauty and pure joy of seeing a stage filled with artists of color, responding to a shared sense of knowing, especially Ailey's work, Cry, dedicated in the program to 'all Black women everywhere - especially our mothers.' The ability for audience members to feel seen in a 2,000 plus seat auditorium, by a nearly fifty-year-old work, is the platform Ailey gave his artists.

BWW Review: NEW DIALECT at Oz Arts Nashville
February 25, 2020

Oz Arts Nashville presented New Dialect with the return of choreographer and Artistic Director Banning Bouldin's The Triangle and the world premiere of Rosie Herrera's First Fruit on Thursday, February 20 at 8pm. In a pre-performance talk, Bouldin announced the company would be touring throughout the southeast on a three-year initiative with South Arts. Bouldin described the creation process with Herrera, which New Dialect and Oz Arts Nashville co-commissioned. A hometown favorite, Bouldin and her company clearly have a devoted audience and partner with Oz Arts Nashville.

BWW Review: Nashville Ballet's ATTITUDE/OTHER VOICES at Tennessee Performing Arts Center
February 18, 2020

Nashville Ballet's Artistic Director, Paul Vasterling, approached the company's annual Attitude series - Other Voices - with questions on gender: what does it mean to be a man, what does it mean to be a woman, what does it mean to be both, and what does it mean to be neither? Vasterling commissioned Jennifer Archibald, Erin Kouwe, Matthew Neenan, and Carlos Pons Guerra, in collaboration with Nashville-based musicians, Christina Spinei and Louis York, to create works from those prompts. Company artists appeared energized with work made on them; however, the four-piece program seemed grueling for dancers in terms of movement and content at the 7:30pm performance on Saturday, February 15 at Tennessee Performing Art Center's Polk Theater.

BWW Review: THE DAY at Tennessee Performing Arts Center
January 23, 2020

Individually, Beiser and Whelan captivated - Whelan walking contemplatively across the stage, Beiser seated in a power stance, limbs enfolding her cello. Together, they grounded the work's multi-disciplinary, hybrid structure with their various expertise along the spectrum of creative function. As a primer on post-modern movement built on a neo-classical ballerina and a musical marathon fusing classicism, romanticism, and modernism into a dense score, these artists triumphed despite navigating a heavily nuanced, deeply detailed construction.

BWW Interview: Maya Beiser and Wendy Whelan on THE DAY
January 17, 2020

Whelan finds the yin and yang in their performance chemistry, saying, 'we're very opposite in nature, which creates balance. I'm more androgynous with clean, clear lines while she has a big, vibrant presence.' Beiser affirmed Whelan's value for respecting collaboration saying she learned from Lang that 'collaboration is about working with others who are great at something you don't do.'

BWW Review: NASHVILLE'S NUTCRACKER at Tennessee Performing Arts Center
December 13, 2019

Artistic Director Paul Vasterling has set Nashville's Nutcracker with the Nashville Symphony at the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Here, Drosselmeyer introduces Clara to the magical imagination and diversity of Nashville. In the ballet's opening, Clara sees a Nutcracker doll made by a German Toy Maker. Following the expo at Centennial Park, Vasterling creates a snowy scene of figure skating at Shelby Bottoms as partygoers head towards the Stahlbaum home. Among other Nashville nuances, Vasterling expands the battle scene to include American Infantry, Native American Soldiers, and Frontier Soldiers, all working together to defeat the Mouse King. The Sugar Plum Fairy holds court in the Parthenon Garden as a final homage to Nashville's branding as the “Athens of the South.'

BWW Review: Nashville Ballet's Modern Masters
May 1, 2019

I last saw Duo Concertant in 2017, for former New York City Ballet dancer Robbie Fairchild's retirement. Seeing Balanchine's work away from his home excitingly challenged this company. Nashville Ballet dancers are grounded, pliable, almost earthy at times in their approach. Here, they embraced the speed, lightness, and attack required by Balanchine, tag-teamed with the complexity of Stravinsky's score.

BWW Review: Equality Echoes at Tennessee Women's Theater Project
September 10, 2018

With recent events related to the #metoo movement within the dance world, notably at New York City Ballet (NYCB), the voice of women in a setting such as this felt sacred. Among art forms, dance is the ultimate challenge to the agency of the female body, which is often at the direction and control of male directors, choreographers, and partners.

In Aqua Motion with Richmond Ballet
May 1, 2018

A dancer's dancer, when asked about how the work is connected to her greater body of choreography, she said her “focus is on what comes naturally; I never want the dancers to stop themselves.”

BWW Review: Richmond Ballet New Works Festival
March 29, 2018

ichmond Ballet's decade-long running New Works Festival included pieces by Francesca Harper, Tom Mattingly, Mariana Oliveira, and Bradley Shelver. Each choreographer received twenty-five rehearsal hours to create a new work on the company. Shelver described the process (in a pre-performance video introduction) as condensing the intimacy and knowledge of a “ten year relationship into one week.”

BWW Review: Inlet Dance Theatre, Cleveland, Ohio
March 24, 2018

Dee Perry's narration required the dancers to move beyond the rhythm of the music (an original score by Jeremy Allen) in relationship to her voice. Wade took his audience into consideration, intending for the reactions of children to fill quiet places in the score. In this work, everyone participated - the audience a necessary collaborator in this read-aloud.

BWW Review: RICHMOND BALLET'S The Sleeping Beauty
February 11, 2018

In a first experience observing the company, overall they were most effective as turners rather than jumpers, with masterful articulation of their legs and torsos. Story ballets provide an opportunity to maximize each company member (several taking on multiple roles). With the moderate size of the company, a clear camaraderie propelled the partnering.

BWW Review: NASHVILLE BALLET's 'Lizzie Borden with The Raven'
October 30, 2017

Nashville Ballet dancers took to the aisles of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Polk Theater for Lizzie Borden with The Raven, Thursday, October 26th. Principal dancer Christopher Stuart's interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe's seminal work led the evening, sharing an ominous closing motif with Artistic Director Paul Vasterling's rendition of Lizzie Borden's complicated life.

BWW Review: CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH BALLET's 60th Anniversary Celebration
June 28, 2016

'We're the lucky ones,' said Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) CEO Nicholas Ade as he introduced the company's 60th Anniversary Celebration at the Sunoco Theater in the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg on June 25th, 2016. Ade acknowledged the tremendous accomplishment in sustaining a dance institution at such a high level in tribute to Founding Artistic Director Marcia Dale Weary and the company's national profile.

BWW Review: PENNSYLVANIA BALLET's Balanchine and Beyond
June 14, 2016

Corella's recent directive choices brought levity; Laura Bowman took her final bow and the program noted other retirements. Whatever the climate, Corella's choices substantially elevated the company's performance profile especially since their June 2014 performances, and even since the fall 2015 season.

BWW Review: SOCIETY OF DANCE HISTORY SCHOLARS' Special Topics Conference
May 31, 2016

With over fifty presenters, conference attendees engaged in a vibrant discourse on ballet structure, technique(s), and form; race; gender; and, sustainability at New York University's Center for Ballet and the Arts and Barnard College, Columbia University.

BWW Reviews: Designing Women with Kenneth MacMillan
June 23, 2015

American Ballet Theatre's 75th anniversary spring season honored the legacy of the company's seasoned dancers and showcased its younger ranks. Mixed bills displaying a range of classic and neo-classic roles segued into ABT's strongest realm: the story ballet. Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie offered his artists as heroes and heroines. From 'Othello' to 'Giselle' to 'La Bayadere' to Ratmansky's 'The Sleeping Beauty' to Monday, June 15th's 'Romeo and Juliet' at Lincoln Center's Metropolitan Opera House, his dancers remained in a stratosphere of romanticism.

BWW Reviews: The Gods Prevail in NYCB's Black and White Festival II
May 11, 2015

Hear the Dance:Russia, covered forty years of Balanchine accompanied by Stravinsky's music from his Apollo, created in 1928 for Diaghilev's Ballet Russes, to 1957's Agon, to two works from 1972, Duo Concertant and Symphony in Three Movements. In Balanchine's temple on Lincoln Center's campus, his choreography plagued the dancers with drops, trips, and slips.

BWW Reviews: Youth America Grand Prix's Starry Night of a Gala
April 22, 2015

In addition to being an incredible highlight of YAGP's work, what other night can one see the best of the best and the best to be on one stage? From quivering port de bras of an eager eleven year old to the stoic grace of Paloma Herrera, YAGP proudly endorsed its place in supporting generations of premier artists.

BWW Reviews: Ballet Stars Take Broadway in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
April 21, 2015

Known for his contemporary, abstract choreography, Wheeldon's recent projects ventured towards epic storytelling, as with Cinderella, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and The Winter's Tale. Besides an exuberant audience, what came to mind on Wednesday, April 15th at the Palace Theatre, were current New York City Ballet principal dancer Robert Fairchild's conjuring of Kelly's ghost and Royal Ballet dancer Leanne Cope's delicate emotional tension, yet no-holds barred physicality.