BWW Review: THE MIAMI CITY BALLET, BALLET ACROSS AMERICA at The Kennedy Center
The evening opened with George Balachine's Walpurgismacht Ballet. While the soloists in this piece are flawless, the corps de ballet deserves the most praise here. Their synchronization and expressive port de bras create beautiful images and an exciting, energetic final movement.
Jennifer Lauren and Chase Swatosh do a great job of bringing Kenneth MacMillan's choreography for the Carousel Pas de Deux to life. Lauren captures the youthful, carefree Julie while Swatosh embodies the dangerous and attractive Billy. Their partnering and lifts are beautiful.
The highlight of the evening for me was Justin Peck's Heatscape, a piece that allows the company to dance with joyful abandon. So much of classical ballet is about precise, controlled movements; Heatscape encourages dancers to follow their natural momentum, creating an electric sense of kinetic energy. The best example of this was in the partner work, when the male dancers would change the direction of their partners' leaps midair. I especially enjoyed Renan Cerdeiro's beautiful extensions in the first movement and the playful chemistry between Shimon Ito, Jennifer Lauren, and Alexander Peters in the third movement.
The night concluded with Twyla Tharp and Jerome Robbins' Brahms/Handel, a spirited dialogue between the two choreographers. (Robbins' dancers wore blue while Tharp's wore green). I find Tharp's athletic choreography captivating, and the company did a fantastic job with the acrobatic flips and lifts.
I recommend the Kennedy Center's regular Ballet Across America programming to all who may be new to watching dance. This is the second time I've reviewed Ballet Across America, and have found it to be a fantastic way to get a large sample of diverse pieces of dance. Speaking of diversity, this year's programming celebrated women in dance by inviting Lourdes Lopez of the Miami City Ballet and Virginia Johnson of the Dance Theatre of Harlem (who provided programming on other nights of the run) to curate. While I appreciate this gesture, I was disappointed that the night of programming I happened to see only included one female choreographer. I hope that the Kennedy Center continues to take diversity into account and sees this Ballet Across America as a bold first step, and not an end, to expanding the number of female choreographers it programs.
Photo credit: Gene Schiavone