BWW Review: American Repertory Ballet's Season Premiere Brings Life to Rider University

The American Repertory Ballet in Princeton held its annual season premiere the weekend of September 25th and 26th at Rider University's Bart Luedeke Center Theater in Lawrenceville.

With a performance that included 11 principle dancers, each one of the three pieces depicted its own form of style that no matter the type of dance, was somehow still able to relate to the ballet's original roots, making the performance as a whole one to certainly watch.

The first piece, Glazunov Variations, brought the classic forms of ballet to the theater, allowing for a traditional opening number. A strong and rather large artistic team was on hand hemming the piece, however it was certainly needed for it to all work. Kirk Peterson's stunning choreography was able to tell a story through each variation. It wasn't clear as to what each one meant. The first variation showcased four couples in gorgeous teal ballerina tutus and silk blouses, while the principle couple wore lilac, all designed by costume and headpiece designers Michelle Ferranti, Janessa Cornell-Urwin, and Cathy Hazard.

While each variation included many grand jetes and pirouettes, one that stood out was the men's quartet that showcased the four male dancers in the piece. Each dancer brought their own style to the piece that allowed it to successfully be presented in a way that showcased them individually.

Although the 3rd to 5th Variations included solo's from three of the dancers, the duet that occurred beforehand was one of excellent romantic structures and movements. After the Men's Quartet, it was a nice way to slow things down before returning to the Variation pieces. Additionally, while the finale was a bit similar to the Entrada of the piece, it lightened the mood and was a cheerful way to end the first piece. All in all it brought a light to the mood and was a cheerful way to end the first piece as a whole.

Ephemeral Possessions, the second piece follwing Variations, was the one that had a somber theme. Not entirely as upbeat and energetic, this piece focused more on the emotional aspect of ballet and the love/hate relationship one has with another. Choreographed and costume designed by ARB's own Douglas Martin, the piece showcased a lot of the contemporary style of dance. However, everything worked. Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings was a perfect fit for the choreography that allowed for the female dancers to perform on pointe, even with the contemporary style.

The final piece, which included the finale, brought the most energy and enthusiasm not only from the performance itself, but from the audience, as well. Straight Up With a Twist, with choreography by Mary Barton, was similar to Variations in the sense that it was organized into different sections. However, the number itself was completely different. A more relaxed and fun piece, its components included one that reflected nature. Rather than the traditional ballet and contemporary styles of dance, this piece was able to successfully combine the two, as well as add in a few different styles of Spanish dances, such as the Merengue. It was, audience members that found themselves a bit confused at the colors of the costumes, as they appeared to be nude colored throught the lights that shoned down. However, as the performance continued on, it was Michelle Ferranti's simple yet bold costume designs that elaborated pastel colors on body suit leotards that allowed for the performance's full intent. One of the most entertaining sections of the piece was the Gator sequence, in which the dancers formed a line and created a sort of gator that allowed them to reenact the movenments that the animal would typically do. This specifically brought a sense of humor to the piece and had the audience wanting to see more. To the audience, and eventually had them wanting more.

Following the Gator sequence came the free-spirited Pas de Deux variation with exquisite body rolls playing an important role. Additionally, the Waltz that followed included some similarities, however it was the females that seemed to have the main focus.

The finale itself came together beautifully, with the idea of the different styles that were seen throughout the entire performance coming together in a way that may not have seemed possible to perform. Generally, it gave the dancers the opportunity to showcase their own personal dance talents. The moves seemed more loose and free, allowing for a fun, energetic ending to the nigh.

Seeing that ARB's season has officially begun, its no wonder that the house was packed and the performances proved to be a success. For tickets to upcoming performances, visit

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From This Author Kimberly Ortiz

I am a student at Rider University double majoring in journalism and theatre studies. I have been involved in theatre for over eight years, however (read more...)

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