BWW Review: BalletMet's NIGHT AND DAY Shows That Short Works Can Surprise

George Balanchine's "Serenade."
Photo Credit: Jennifer Zmuda
Courtesy of BalletMet

The works included in BalletMet's "Night and Day" prove that the best things often come in small packages.

Comprised of three ballets that each take no longer than 45 minutes to perform, "Night and Day" focuses on nature, contrast and experimentation.

The program begins with George Balanchine's romantic "Serenade," set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings in C."

A sea of frothy periwinkle skirts against a midnight blue background materialize into misty auras that gracefully float behind the dancers as they are lifted into the air by their partners. Like the night fog that smoothly rolls across a moonlit pond, Balanchine's choreography emphasizes beauty in the flexibility and unpredictability of form.

As the short ballet unfolds to the whimsical and dramatic flourishes of Tchaikovsky's composition, the unadorned stage and backdrop allow little distraction from the artistry of the dancers' movements. Although the program notes describe the history of the ballet and mention a few specific choices made by Balanchine when creating and reworking "Serenade," much of the story is left up to individual interpretation.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Zmuda
Courtesy of BalletMet

By far the most traditional of the evening's pieces, "Serenade" serves well as the opening ballet in this curated trio of works. As the curtain closes and the house lights are switched on for the first of two 15-minute intermissions, the audience should have a general understanding that this program is meant to stretch one's creativity and imagination.

Indeed, an open mind and willingness to experience something entirely new is necessary in order to truly connect with the pieces that follow.

From the moment the first dancer enters the stage in Val Caniparoli's "Lamberena," the atmosphere in the theater has been completely transformed.

Caniparoli combines the rhythmic beats of African music with passages by Johann Sebastian Bach, which results in a fascinating fusion of organ music, chanting and the satisfying clink of wooden xylophones.

Val Caniparoli's "Lamberena."
Photo Credit: Jennifer Zmuda
Courtesy of BalletMet

Each of the eight movements brings something new to the stage -- from an eye-popping array of bright fabrics and prints adoring dancers' skirts to choreography that marries the grace of ballet with the unbridled power and signature movements of traditional African dance.

Visually and aurally tantalizing, "Lamberena" received an enthusiastic ovation from the audience and was the most pleasantly surprising 40 minutes of the evening.

BalletMet Artistic Director Edwaard Liang's Columbus premiere of "Murmuration" concludes the program. Hauntingly emotional, Liang's imaginative depiction of a flock of European Starlings flitting and darting through the twilight air celebrates commonalities between humans and other species.

At times frenetic and bursting with energy and at others subdued and cloaked in

Edwaard Liang's "Murmuration."
Photo Credit: Jennifer Zmuda
Courtesy of BalletMet

intimacy, "Murmuration" also features mesmerizing visual effects that are breathtaking displays of Liang's creative vision. Silhouettes of dancers are multiplied on a blank projection screen to mirror the phenomenon of hundreds of birds taking flight while, later in the piece, white feathers rain down like gently falling snowflakes.

Through these imaginative details, Liang, like Balanchine and Caniparoli, shows that a short composition might end up being the work that stays with its viewers the longest.

BalletMet is set to perform "Night and Day" at the Ohio Theatre from Oct. 21 through Oct. 23.

Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster, as well as online and via phone at 614-469-0939 or 800-745-3000.

The Ohio Theatre is located at 39 E. State St.



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From This Author Amanda Etchison

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