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Festival Ballet Providence closes out their 45th season with PURE DANCE, a program which keeps dance at the heart of four unique pieces.

By: Apr. 29, 2023
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Festival Ballet Providence closes out their 45th season with PURE DANCE, a program which keeps dance at the heart of four unique pieces.

"Yet, My Heart" is a world premiere for the Brooklyn native choreographer, Chanel DaSilva. In a short video before the piece, DaSilva explains how she treats choreography as "something like a journal entry." For "Yet, My Heart," the foremost question on her mind was "should I wait?" specifically, the wait for a person to choose you. The main couple of this contemporary ballet segment was portrayed Friday evening by Clay Murray and Audrey Lukacz. Throughout the few movements of the piece, they dance, but her movements need his support while his are more self-contained, dancing alongside each other, but on different planes. Even during lifts, or when he drags her along the stage on his back, they remained turned away from one another. At times, a small corps of white clad dancers join the stage, and Lukacz dances among this group, at times supported by them, at times centered while they dance around her. She is looking for connection, but is she truly part of this group despite what appear to be genuine moments of connection? Murray and Lukacz are perfect as the highlighted pair, and the emotion driving their movements is palpable - you can't help but feel the heartbreak.

The second piece, "When Love," was choreographed by Helen Pickett who made her first ballet on FBP's current director, Kathleen Breen Combes, while still a Boston Ballet. Pickett's intent with the piece was to capture the ephemeral quality of love between two human beings, how love truly lives only in the moment, and here again, that is precisely captured by dancers Emma Guertin and Alex Lantz Friday evening. With movement that is both fluid but brisk, occasionally pausing to hold or look longingly towards each other, "When Love" is a perfect opposite of "Yet, My Heart." Guertin and Lantz's dancing is highlighted by the simple lighting - beginning and ending in a spotlight from above - and music by Phillip Glass. Spoken word directly conveys the emotion at the heart of this piece - "so profound was her love, they needed no words to express it."

"Es muß sein! (It must be!)" marks the program's second world premiere, choreographed by FBP's Artistic Curator, Yury Yanowsky. This piece also features four members of the Aurea Ensemble accompanying the dancers by playing Beethoven live. In a short video, Yanowsky explains how live music allows for every performance to be a slightly different experience, and the close observer will surely notice the interplay between the musicians in the dancers that is evident here. With everything stripped down, from the lighting to the dancer's costumes, the emphasis is truly placed the dancer-musician relationship.

The final, and only truly classical ballet piece of the evening, is George Balanchine's "Concerto Barocco." Set to the music of Bach, the speed, musicality, and exactness - particularly in the corps - required by this piece is Balanchine through and through, and the dancers do an admirable job. Heather Nichols and Madeline Glinski are great as the two female soloists. Nichols in particular truly leans into the Blanchine style, willing to push herself that extra bit further into leans, just slightly over one's balance, which does not often come naturally to non-Balanchine trained dancers. If anything, my main criticism with the piece was with the space itself. As with many Balanchine ballets, the precise geometry and lines created by the dancers are crucially important. The dancers worked with the space given, but because both the stage and the auditorium are not as spacious as other venues, some of the most iconic sections, such as the corps' alternating arabesques forward and back which start the third movement, did not appear as crisp as they could have been. Thankfully, other moments of perfection, such as the intricate moving knot of the dancers walking on high demi-pointe and the second soloist's arabesque promenades with her leg passing over the corps' kneeling heads are effective no matter the space and were fantastic here.

With a combination of dynamic dancing, varied choreography, and overall innovation, Festival Ballet Providence continues to delight, and PURE DANCE is no exception.

PURE DANCE's final two performances are Saturday, April 29th at 7:30pm and Sunday, April 30th at 1:30pm at the Woodman Family Community and Performance Center on the Moses Brown campus in Providence. For tickets, visit, call 401-353-1129, or visit the venue two hours prior to curtain.

Image: Katherine Bickford, from


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