BWW Review: COCKTAIL HOUR THE SHOW at Ballets With A Twist
The Eisemann Center presented Cocktail Hour the Show by Ballets with a Twist, Friday night. Choreography by Marilyn Klaus, composition by Stephen Gaboury, and costume design by Catherine Zehr, the dancers performed pieces inspired by the world's most famous cocktails.
The show started with the number "Hot Toddy" based off of the 1920s Prohibition Era. With dancers in Flapper dresses, 1920s suits save for one policeman, it started off as a very cute and vibrant number. However pretty soon the choreography became very repetitive and stagnant. The same four eight counts were danced by different dancers, making it a disappointing opener. I can say the same thing for several of the duets and solos throughout the show. "Pink Lady" performed by the talented Anica Bottom, was mostly just graceful walking, with a few single pirouettes, and powdering her nose twice with a compact. The number was lackluster to say the least. The score did not help the situation. With lyrics like "She's looking like a lady" I felt like I was listening to a nineties slow jam and not in a good way. "Manhattan" performed by Mackenzie Fey looked promising, but then a rolling stuffed animal dog appeared on the stage. It achieved a few giggles from the audience, but the dance itself really was just Fey rolling the dog around while walking on her pointe shoes along with a few arabesques. "Roy Rogers" looked hopeful with lights on Seth Ives dressed in cowboy gear center stage, and Amy Gilson entering in a red country style tutu. Gilson's prop was a spicy whip and every now and again she would wrap the whip around Ives and pull him closer. However it became clear that the real prop in the number was not the whip, but Ives. Ives did not do one step the entire number. If he wasn't used, I am not sure why they didn't make this number a solo for Gilson. Before intermission after a very elegant number "Champagne", I experienced a bit of whiplash when the dancers did their bows and danced to "Old Town Road". I understand what they were trying to do. It was a statement on them performing in Texas and they picked the most popular country song they knew about. However the audience was not quite the target age group that knows "Old Town Road". There are also plenty more Texas country songs they could have chosen so honestly the joke fell flat. Act 2 was luckily the stronger Act, but it still had very confusing numbers including "Grappa" and Sputnik". "Grappa" had a story to it, but me and the audience just did not follow. Suddenly the dancers were prancing on with spatulas, spoons, and a metal bowl, and beating each other with them. I must have missed the story in there as I'm sure many of the audience members did as well. "Sputnik" was a soft shoe tap number in a go-go futuristic style dress. I'm not sure as to why the number could not have been in tap shoes. The added sound would have really enhanced the number. The music was a jazz 20s flapper style and it just did not go with the costume or piece. But more importantly the random, loud, scream that dancer Tori Hey had to do at the top of the piece was very misplaced. I understand a scream if the number burst into a high energy, athletic dance, but a softshoe tap number that was mid-level energy, did not really fit. These and a few other pieces were repetitive, slow, and unathletic, often relying on props and gimmicks to hide an otherwise boring number.
There were a few numbers where Klaus seemed to have paid more attention to detail and managed to give these numbers more intricate choreography, lifts, and artistry. Dancer Courtlyn Hanson had two upbeat duets including "Lemon Drop" and "Cuba Libre". With partners Seth Ives and Andres Neira, these numbers were a breath of fresh air. "Bloody Mary" performed by Margaret Hoshor, was a fierce number, though repetitive. Group numbers "Champagne", "Mojito" and "Caipirinha" were much more thought out pieces. "Champagne" was an elegant ending to the first act, with dancers in white dresses gracefully dancing with chandeliers in the background. With "Mojito" I finally saw the partnering they could have utilized in all the numbers with the talent that they had. "Caipirinha" was an energetic ending to the show, with the variety in steps that we needed. All in all the dancers were technically gifted and strong in capability. The choreography just did not service that ability. The costumes by Catherine Zehr were visually breathtaking and tailored to every dancer. They moved so well and looked lovely both onstage and in the photographs by Nico Malvaldi. Lighting design by Dan Hansell was also beautifully done.
Overall this production has a lot of reworking it needs to do. I believe they have the capacity based on the positive feedback from several of the dances mentioned above. If you would like to see more about the show go to balletswithatwist.com.