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BWW Reviews: MADE IN AMERICA – A Terrific Triptych


The iconic Wortham Theater Center is celebrating its twenty-fifth birthday this month. This building serves as a monument to Houston's long-standing desire to encourage and support the arts, as the $66 million dollars raised to build the center that celebrates performing arts came entirely from 3500 private sector donors. Without a doubt, the best birthday present that the building could be bestowed is the Houston Ballet's terrific triptych of works, Made in America. Artistic Director, Stanton Welch's trio of selections are wonderful and inspired choices. Each piece is moving and beautiful, and each piece offers audiences a different and very enjoyable experience.

Tonight's show began with the Houston Ballet Premiere of Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, originally commissioned by Mikhail Baryshnikov as choreographer Mark Morris's third work for American Ballet Theatre in 1988.  This piece is nothing short of beautiful. It opens with pensive, thought-provoking notes lightly stuck on the piano. The dancers slowly appear on stage, as the lights gently warm. The choreography, plain, white costumes, and bare set evoke the feeling of a rehearsal hall, causing the audience to feel as if they are sitting in on a rehearsal. The score maintains a light, frolicking ambience and the choreography suggests subtle flirtation and jovial showmanship. The piece never strays from being joyful and sweet, and closes on the same warm note that it opens with. The onstage pianist, much like the 12 dancers in the piece, is nothing short of exceptional herself, playing beautifully and never missing a beat.

The second act, the world premiere of See(k) choreographed by Nicolo Fonte with music by Anna Clyde, is the absolute shining star of the trio. Nicolo Fonte costumes the dancers in form fitting flesh tone and black ensembles that do not distract from his expert choreography. The music, along with the choreography, is mesmerizing and captivating, yet unnerving. As the music moves through both tonal and temporal dissonance, the dancers portray raw and animalistic emotions through sharp and impressively 

technical dances. The piece begins with stunning and visceral violent imagery and tonality, which grabs the audience's attention and does not relent for the entire piece. Slipping from movement to movement, the audience is just as involved in the emotional journey as the dancers and music. The darkness in this piece is a stark contradiction to the first act, but it displays passion at its finest, as the audience watches acts of seduction that are reminiscent of predator/prey relationships. The only question that the audience may have by the end of the piece is who was hunting whom? Additionally, the lighting design by Brad Fields is minimalistic, but a character in itself. The spots lights interact with the dancers in a way that adds amazing emotional depth and clarity to the frenetic, intense choreography. This piece leaves the audience speechless and with a pounding, racing heart.

The final piece, George Balanchine's Theme and Variations set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Suite No. 3, in G, is a fantastic reminder of how perfectly poised and regally elegant ballet can be. George Balanchine wanted this piece to pay homage to the Imperial Russian Ballet, and it does. The grandiose movements and classical costuming simply remind the audience of the era when Russian ballet prospered along with Tchaikovsky's striking and complicated music. This piece is nothing short of graceful and courtly, majestic and refined. The choreography and dancers are spectacular.

Each member of the Houston Ballet is impeccable in his or her assigned roles. Each featured dancer and soloist is distinguished and memorable. It is obvious how much effort they have put into the pieces, yet they make their work look effortless. Each member moves beautifully and seamlessly. No hand, arm, leg, or toe is out of place or off beat.

Don't miss your opportunity to see this fantastic triptych. It is sure to leave you spellbound.

Made in America runs at the Brown Theater in The Wortham Center until June 3, 2012. For more information and tickets please call (713) 227 – 2787 or (800) 828 – 2787. You can also visit Houston Ballet on the web at


All photos are courtesy of Amitava Sarkar.

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