BWW Reviews: Ballet West Closes 50th Anniversary Season with INNOVATIONS
Ballet West closes its' 50th anniversary season with their annual production of Innovations, a program thought up by Artistic Director Adam Sklute 7 years ago. Innovations is a concept that allows choreographers to try out new material and give all the artists of Ballet West an opportunity to create and experiment with new works.
This year's Innovations showcases 5 choreographers who have each taken a concept and made it completely their own. The first, The Sixth Beauty, choreographed by Matthew Neenan, is a piece regarding "reflection from one's past." Mr. Neenan says it is about "the dysfunctional and bombastic episodes transcending into more harmonious and inviting intimacy." It is a piece that is conveys just that: beautiful and harmonious in its' choreography and execution.
The second piece, Paths, is choreographed by Ballet West dancer, Christopher Anderson. Mr. Anderson added an interesting element into his work, asking for volunteers from the audience to participate in his piece to dance behind the company members. Although, this did make for an interesting effect, it was slightly distracting to watch, as it was more intriguing to see what the volunteers from the audience were doing, rather then the focus being on the actual dancers and choreography.
The third piece, Inverted Affect, choreographed by Tyler Gunn, was, although an interesting concept, a piece that did not hold any interest. The music was sporadic and headache-inducing, and although it was beautifully danced, it was by far the most forgettable piece of the evening. There was no structure and it was confusing in its' execution, begging the question what was Mr. Gunn trying to accomplish with his piece.<
The fourth piece, Mixed Signals, is choreographed by another Ballet West dancer, Emily Adams. This piece was fun to watch, and by far, the most traditional ballet work of the evening. The choreography, though difficult, was performed perfectly by the dancers and they kept it light and airy in their execution.
The fifth and final piece of Innovations, is choreographed by Christopher Ruud, a current member of Ballet West. Mr. Ruud's work has won him awards in the past (including the New York Choreographers Fellowship in 2012), and it is easy to see why. His piece, entitled Great Souls, is a piece about his own life in which he has "had the great privilege to love and be loved by truly great people." Mr. Ruud's choreography was the highlight of the evening, and truly saved the best for last. As part of his concept, a pas de deux is danced (beautifully by Allison DeBona and Rex Tilton) that embraces the complexities and emotions of a real-life relationship. Both dancers were the perfect casting fit for this piece.
As this is the close of Ballet West's 50th anniversary season, it is only appropriate that such new, interesting and diverse works were chosen. These pieces embrace the title Innovations, as each one is truly innovative and different, from the conception and choreography, to the costumes and execution.
Innovations runs at the Rose Wagner Theater in Salt Lake City May 16, 17 & 21-24.
Photo by Pete de la Rosa: Ballet West First Soloist Jacqueline Straughan and Soloist Adrian Fry.