Review: GOING SOLO at Verb Ballets


By: Feb. 28, 2021
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Review: GOING SOLO at Verb Ballets

According to Artistic Director Margaret Carlson, the purpose of Cleveland's Verb Ballet's recent streamed Going Solo, was to allow the audience to see the entire company through a series of dance sequences, mainly dancers in solo performances.

Danced with pandemic appropriate masks, the dancers performed traditional, modern and folk compositions, accompanied by recorded music.

The program included Paquita, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, and staged in the Verb program by Robert Carter.

The six variations, with music by Ludwig Minkus, displayed classical movement, featuring dancers on pointe. The performers, Elizabeth Schaeffer, Kelly Korfhage, Lieneke Matte, Julie Russel, Kate Webb and Emily Dietz, were clad in white tutus.

The result was a lovely, often lively display.

Sometimes, Always, choreographed by associate artistic director, Richard Dickinson, was danced to music composed by Samuel Barber, who is noted with the tribute that "Probably no other American composer has ever enjoyed such early, such persistent and such long-lasting acclaim."

The first segment of this newly conceived dance was performed to the modern classical sounds by Sikhumbuzo Hlanhleni, Hunter Hoffman, Antonio Morillo and Benjamin Shepard. Costumed in white, the quarter displayed strong muscular lifts, poses and spins.

Part two found Morillo and Shepard displaying powerful athleticism, while featuring strong coupling.

Part three found the all-male quartet bringing the number to its climax.

Dances For Isadora (Five Evocations of Isadora Duncan) is choreographer José Limón's tribute to the brilliant, but tragic Duncan, considered to be the mother of modern dance. She encouraged a free form to the art form, incorporating skipping, running, jumping, leaping and tossing.

The five segments were: Primavera (performed by Lieneke Matte), Maenad (danced by the captivating Emani Drake), Niobe (executed by Emily Dietz), La Patrie (featuring the stunning Noe Iwamatsu) and Scarf Dance (spotlighting Kate Webb).

Le Corsaire, the men's variation from the Grand Pas de Deux, was a very brief interlude, proficiently danced by international cultural exchange artist, Sikhumbuzo Hlahleni.

The early 1700's, Jota, a sample of Aragonese folklore dance, was performed with joie-de-vivre by the company's male dancers. It was followed by Ukrainian Dance, set to a medley of traditional music and featured the entire company in a joyous conclusion.

Capsule judgment: Verb Ballet, in contrast to many local theatrical and dance companies, had continued, as evidenced by Going Solo, to hone its skills during the pandemic. They, and audiences, should look to a time, hopefully, in the near future, to be performing before live audiences.


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