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BWW Reviews: BALLETNEXT - The Great Leap Forward

Michele Wiles' BalletNext gave its best performance at BAM Fisher (Fishman Space), on Friday, May 17, Founded in 2011, the dancers have developed and matured into a cooperating, fluid dance company, rather than a group of interesting soloists without connection to each other. The two works presented had been previously performed by BalletNext and were welcomed back, demonstrating growth, deeper understanding of the works, and a stronger connection with the audience.

Mauro Bigonzetti's BachGround, to music by JS Bach was premiered by the Company in October 2012 at the Joyce Theater. The piece begins with a riveting image of six dancers sitting in chairs along the back of the stage, doing arm movements in pairs. William Cannon performed a solo, followed by two pas de deux danced by Tiffany Mangulabnan and Stephen Hanna, and by William Canon and Michele Wiles. A duet was danced by the lovely Jordan Reed and Kaitlyn Gililand. The impact of their dancing quickly gripped the audience-they knew that this ballet was something out of the ordinary.

Surmisable Units, choreographed by resident choreographer Brian Reeder to Steve Reich's Piano Phase, was another original company work that premiered in January 2014. A sharp commentary on today's automated life, the dancers moved without emotion, for the most part. In their duet, however, Wiles and Gililand kept the humanity evident with facial expressions and some lyrical port de bras. Again, humanity won out over machine as Cioce and Hanna, in their pas de deux, were more exciting than in previous renditions. Cioce is maturing and offering the public a glimpse at her personality, which translates to human emotion. With the appearance of Mangulabnan, a charter member of the group, who showed improvement and more depth of character with each performance, another glimpse of humanity was evident. Still, when the dancers moved individually, or lay on the floor around the two pianos, both played with aplomb by Benjamin Laude, they danced with an emotionless aura.

BalletNext is beginning to make a mark for itself in an era cluttered with small contemporary ballet companies. It is exciting to watch them evolve. I look forward to seeing their Next performances.

To find their touring itinerary and Master Classes, visit

Photo Credit: Photo by Nisian Hughes

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From This Author Marjorie Liebert