Review: AMERICAN REPERTORY BALLET's ELEVATE Sparkles at Kaye Playhouse

Read the latest about ARB's anniversary performance!

By: Apr. 02, 2024
Review: AMERICAN REPERTORY BALLET's ELEVATE Sparkles at Kaye Playhouse
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For the better part of a century, American Repertory Ballet (ARB) has been the preeminent ballet company of New Jersey. And on March 30th, the company was able to both celebrate this milestone, but also showcase their growing talents as an organization. Under the careful tutelage of Ethan Stiefel, the company has flourished over the last 3 years, elevating its talent base and repertoire to feature diverse artists and works that are wholly—and unapologetically—their own.

Up first in Elevate’s triple bill was Meredith Rainey’s Intrare Forma. Set to an original score by Miranda Scripp, the company danced together like pieces of a dynamic puzzle, interlocking and connecting through explosive leaps and whirling pirouettes. I especially appreciated the emphasis on exploration; the dancers used up the space, attacking each movement with gusto and style. You could feel their collective determination, and it instantly created a sense of community that continued throughout the evening.

Next was Amy Seiwert’s Sight Line, a provocative meditation on inner desire and vulnerability. Seiwert’s groupings of dancers was compelling: duos, trios, and the full company all rotated, taking turns finding the spotlight and shining. Seiwert’s focus on capturing motion-in-stillness was brilliant, and the partner work was unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time; I audibly gasped more than once.

The finale of the evening was Stiefel’s returning piece Wood Work, which brought incredible joy and levity to the stage. The choreographic vocabulary took the classics, but twisted the technique to infuse the movement with sharper edges and angles. The end result? A rollicking good time, complete with a quirky spirit that the audience absolutely loved.

But more than any of the three pieces individually, Elevate in its totality captured that ARB has an identity all its own: they’re doing their own thing, and making the most of every opportunity they have. Brava.

Photo Credit: Rosalie O’Connor