Review and previews: Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Cleveland Ballet, Groundworks

Roy Berko

Member: Dance Critics Association


Founded in 1969, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, which is housed in the Harlem section of New York City, was the first black professional classical ballet company. Since that time, as was evidenced in their recent Cleveland concerts, the organization has extended its purpose to being racially diverse and performing an eclectic repertoire that stresses empowerment through dance.

The company's two Ohio Theatre sold-out performances were co-sponsored by Dance Cleveland and Cuyahoga Community College.

Consisting of four segments, three short, full length works and a four-segment number, the program showed the breadth of the company. Mainly modern ballet, with the women on point, they also showed off their jazz and contemporary moves.

CHANGE, danced by all women, was a tribute to Black, Brown and Beige females. EQUILIBRIUM (BROTHERHOOD) highlighted the physicality, athleticism and grace with the spotlight on the exploration of "male bonding and how it brings stability to one's life." SYSTEM, danced to the atonal music of John Adams, centered on migrants and the need to "hold the door open for them to continue moving, building and expanding their consciousness."

RETURN, performed to music by James Brown, Alfred Ellis, Aretha and Carolyn Franklin, was the crowd favorite during the evening concert, often eliciting loud cheers from the audience, especially the large group of dance students from The Cleveland School for the Arts. "Superbad," the concluding segment, which was contemporary hip-hop and street moves, brought the program to a joyous conclusion.

Dance Cleveland's next concert is Jessica Lang Dance on March 4, 2017 at the Ohio Theatre. For tickets visit 216-241-6000.

CLEVELAND BALLET to present encore performance of A CELEBRATION OF DANCE & MUSIC

The "new" Cleveland Ballet, under the artistic leadership of Puerto Rico-born Gladisa Guadalupe, a former member of the Dennis Nahat-led company which left Cleveland for San Jose, California, wants "Cleveland Ballet to again join the list of jewels that make Cleveland a special place artistically." She, along with the ballet board's CEO and Chair, Michael Krasnyansky, a global business developer, have high hopes for cultivating a world-class resident professional ballet company.

The company's corps presently consists of 14 dancers, 11 females and 3 males. They are rehearsing in a studio in Bedford Heights with the goal of presenting classical dances and also telling contemporary stories. Proudly hanging on the studio's wall is a banner emblazoned with the motto: "Cleveland Ballet-Respect for the past-present-vision for the future.

Sitting in on a rehearsal for their upcoming Hanna Theatre program helped solidify the idea that these young dancers have formed into a company that is filled with mutual respect and pride. Taking constructive criticism from the multi-talented Cynthia Graham, a former member of the original Cleveland Ballet, who serves as the company's Ballet Mistress, they were polite, interested in reaching for perfection, and willing to be a support to their fellow dancers. No competition here, that is so prevalent in some dance groups.

Whether you missed the company's CELEBRATION OF DANCE AND MUSIC the first time, or want to see it again, January 27th at the Hanna Theatre is your chance.

The program will include: "Today's Students, Tomorrow's Artists," "Tarantella," "Dicitencello Vuie," "Granada," "The Cycle of My Love," "Amore Perduto," "Piano Trio in C minor Op. 1, no. 3 Finale, Prestissimo" "Octet for Strings in E-flat major," and "Op. 20 Allegro moderato ma con fuoco." For tickets call 216-241-6000 or go on line to

The company will dance A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM, choreographed by Ramon Oller, at the Ohio Theatre on April 7. The company's annual Black and White Gala fundraising event will take place on February 25 at the Tudor Arms Hotel. For information about the School of Cleveland Ballet which takes students 10-22 years of age or about the fundraiser call 216-320-9000 or go to

GROUNDWORKS to present 2017 Spring Dance Series

Groundworks, the inspiration of David Shimotakahara, who serves as the company's Artistic Director, is one of the area's premiere dance companies.

The company will present "An Exploration in Connectivity, Changeability and Transition," on March 17 and 18 at 7:30 in the Breen Center for Performing Arts on the campus of St. Ignatius High School in Ohio City and on March 31 and April 1 at 7:30 at EJ Thomas Hall on the campus of Akron University.

The program will consist of a world premiere works by Shimotakahara and Gina Gibney, as well as "Romora" by award-winning choreographer Eric Handman.

Ticket information can be found at by calling 216-751-0088.

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From This Author Roy Berko

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