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BWW Review: KC Ballet at the Starlight

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Live performance returns to Kansas City!

BWW Review: KC Ballet at the Starlight

Now then, where were we?

It is, according to my notes, fourteen months since I last had the pleasure of attending a live theatre performance. Fourteen months in which the world has changed, and seems prime for even more changes down the pike. We are, as they say, living in interesting times. To have once again the possibility of live performance is a welcome respite in an age of madness, a normalcy worth returning to.

The inaugural program, given last night at the Starlight Theatre in Swope Park, was relatively brief, with seven short works of new and original dance, some with original music. It was more or less an even mix of contemporary and traditional dance styles, though more of the former as the evening proceeded.

The program began with "Jupiter's Court", presented by the 2nd company. A very graceful work, very firmly grounded in classical ballet, as a way to welcome us back into this world. Next was "The 61 and 94", a fascinating work that plays with themes of childhood and innocence with some really interesting choreography. "T-3" was a very elegant pas-de-trois to the music of Corelli, and "Looking for Perilune"'s curious, dreamlike quality was only enhanced by the use of Icelandic group Sigur Ros, among others. The Second Company returned afterward with "Vectors", a very nice ensemble piece which made use of color and light (it is perhaps as good a time as any to acknowledge Trad A Burns, whose lighting design has graced KC Ballet productions for as long as this reviewer can recall). "Alea Iacta Est", which follows after, is easily the most sensual performance of the evening. Finishing off the bill was "Sandhur", a clever mix of styles choreographed by KC Ballet director Devon Carney himself.

A word on masks. Here in the New Reality (and I have yet to see definite proof that we haven't all slipped into some half-baked alternate universe novel) masks are part of the performance, and look to be at least through this season. There were two approaches to this on display last night: most costume designs elected to incorporate the mask into the costume, using colors that complemented the rest. Alternatively, some elected to give the dancers flesh-colored masks that blended with their skin tone. This latter approach was, I have to say, rather less successful: from a distance, they look less like someone with a mask on and more like someone with only half a face. Well, these are new times, and we learn these lessons as we go.

If there was anything to mar the evening, it was not on stage. It seems that spending a year-plus sitting at home, lounging in our pajamas as we watched streamed performances has put some of us out of practice in being a courteous audience member. There was rather more than usual in the way of buzzing conversations, last-minute arrivals mid-act, and the various other aggravations that yank you from the world of the stage. One wonders if we need to get the audience together, have a few refresher rehearsals of our own.

That aside, it was a lovely night, and a thoroughly enjoyable one. Even the rain, which has been dripping and drizzling steadily all through the week, had the decency to back off and give us a cool, clear night. The dancers have clearly kept in trim, and their choreographers have not been idle in devising new sights and sounds for us. More than this, there was a sense of triumph in the air, of victory hard-won. Despite everything, we were back together on a fair spring evening, enjoying that most graceful and poetic of arts. It reminds us that no matter what happens, art and beauty will always come back. They will be there for us. And we, I hope, will be there for them.

(Photo credit: Kansas City Ballet Dancers Kaleena Burks & Liang Fu. Photographer Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios)


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