May 11, 2014
Cincinnati Ballet celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and a New York debut at the Joyce Theater. Thursday night the company presented three contemporary ballet works from choreographers Adam Hougland, Val Caniparoli, and Trey McIntrye.
In an overcrowded New York City contemporary dance scene, I’m always surprised when classical ballet companies don’t bring any classical repertoire with them on tour. Other than the major ballet companies that reside here, we don’t get much of the classics in NYC. It was a shame when Houston Ballet in all their technical glory failed to give us a sense of who they were because of bland choreography and dancers that weren’t in their element. That being said, Cincinnati showed some versatility although it took a while to get to that point.
The program opened with Hougland’s “Hummingbird in a Box,” with original music by Peter Frampton and Gordon Kennedy. Four women in rhinestoned black bra tops, and black tutus and four men bare chested in white jeans take the stage one by one. As they gather in a huddled group, a central couple (Janessa Touchet and Patric Palkins) breaks away. The choreography is simplistic, the men in their trio “glissade, glissade, Italian changement” several times in repetition before kicking their legs up in a ripple. It’s truly a disservice to ballet dancers, when choreographic standards diminish the abilities of their virtuosic technique. In her solo, Touchet seemingly the “Hummingbird in the Box,” pantomimed for an escape, appearing bored and over it, she too couldn’t wait for the end.
Val Caniparoli’s “Caprice” pitted two skilled violinists (Haoli Lin & Yabing Tang) against each other in a sort of play off. Ten dancers in black and polk dot weave in and out in nine sections. Playful seduction and angst inundates the movement, it’s flirtatious yet fresh. The devilishly handsome Patric Palkins commands the stage in this work as well as Hummingbird. Technically gifted and precise, each turn is clean and controlled and every cheeky grin blush inducing.
The major coup of the night was McIntyre’s “Chasing Squirrel,” which originally premiered in 2004 in Vail. The curtain rose to scantily clad men and women dressed in leather tops and teased hair. Women run the show, often leaving the men breathless running after them, and dancing for attention. Pink suits eventually become the men’s outfits although a state of complete dress never comes to full fruition. “Squirrel” is fun and entertaining. These talented dancers are finally given the chance to show that they are capable of more than ballet, even though it would have been refreshing to see.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon