Richmond Ballet Celebrates 30th Anniversary with A Flawless Performance
Lauren Fagone as The Chosen One in Salvatore Aiello’s The Rite of Spring. Richmond Ballet 2013. All rights reserved. Photo by Sarah Ferguson.
The Richmond Ballet’s 30th anniversary celebration performance opened this past weekend and it was a sight to behold. With the Carpenter Theater as the setting, the scene was already set for a beautiful show. As the audience milled around in the sunshine before entering the theater, excited murmurs were heard, particularly about the last ballet on the bill: the avant-garde The Rite Of Spring.
As the Richmond Symphony signaled the beginning of the performance, with the strains of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade, there was an audible gasp as the curtains rose to reveal dancers in flowing blue skirts, designed by famed NYC Ballet costume designer Barbra Karinska, against a serene blue background. Flawless choreography by George Balanchine showed why this ballet is a national favorite, with the Richmond Ballet certainly doing it justice.
Shira Lanyi, Phillip Skaggs and Maggie Small in Serenade. Choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust.
The emotive moves- the arab-esque, leaps and graceful arms, mesmerized the audience. The male dancers both contrasted and synchronized with the ballerinas to great effect. The performance, with its stark and sad ending, was met to rousing applause with members of the audience rising to a standing ovation.
In a true showing of Richmond Ballet’s diverse talents, the next ballet: Fancy Free was a light-hearted, fun romp. It was also the first time the classic had been performed in Richmond. Playing “Bartender” was Malcolm Burn, Richmond Ballet’s Ballet Master and Artistic Associate, proving the company is not afraid to poke fun at themselves.
Maggie Small and (from left to right) Trevor Davis, Matthew Frain and Fernando Sabino in Fancy Free. Choreography by Jerome Robbins. Richmond Ballet 2013. All rights reserved. Photo by Sarah Ferguson.
Trevor Davis, Matthew Frain and Fernando Sabino played three sailors on shore leave in New York City. Their energy and talent transcended the stage, presenting a very different face of ballet to Serenade. With choreography by Jerome Robbins and staging by American ballet stalwart Philip Neal, the ballet charmed the audience and lifted the mood with it’s humor. The dancers projected their character’s personalities excellently, with the flirty, rambunctious dance moves leading to laughter throughout the audience.
The final ballet – Salvatore Aiello’s The Rite Of Spring, cemented Richmond Ballet’s place as a ballet company of the finest degree. The music, the staging and the costumes were all powerful, animalistic and captivating, not to mention the dancing. The scant nature of the costumes revealed the almost impossibly toned physique of the dancers, adding to the primitive, carnal nature of the piece. With staging by Jerri Kumery – who is the curator of all of the Sal Aiello work – the audience was drawn into the world of pagan rituals and sacrifices.
Matthew Frain (left) and Fernando Sabino in Salvatore Aiello’s The Rite of Spring. Richmond Ballet 2013. All rights reserved. Photo by Sarah Ferguson.
Sabino danced the part of The Young Warrior with precision, the tension visible in his muscles. As The Chosen One, Lauren Fagone transported the audience into her world of sensuality, fear and futility. As the curtain descended and the Richmond Symphony played their last strain, the audience had a brief moment of stunned silence, before erupting into a standing ovation.
You could feel the pride in the audience at having such a world-class ballet company at home in our city. One lady could be overheard saying “who needs Boston when everything happens in Richmond! We have better ballet here than in cities triple our size!”
Here’s to thirty more years of stunning Richmond Ballet performances.
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