Richmond Ballet’s Studio 4 Is Exquisite
Photos via Sarah Ferguson - Richmond Ballet 2013. All rights reserved.
We all know its best to go out with a bang and Richmond Ballet does just that. Their season closer, Studio Four, includes two diverse, yet equally stunning pieces. Choreographers William Soleau and Ma Cong created imaginative dances that are brilliantly performed by the company.
The program started with Chasing Cello, a world premiere choreographed by William Soleau, a long time collaborator with the Richmond Ballet. Dressed in navy blue and flanked by movable white panels, the dancers watch intently as the cellist, Dana McComb, begins to play. Their movement becomes larger as the pianist, Joanne Kong, joins in. The live music is a spectacular element to Soleau’s work as the dancers and musicians support each other beautifully. At one point the dancers remind me of notes spread on sheet music as the glided gracefully across the space, each pas de deux a different melody. The long lines, curvatures of the body, and vibrating movements perfectly mimic the shape of the cello as well.
MK Stewart’s stunning lighting design added a bonus effect; shadows. The dancers, at moments in hilarious ways, would pose and act out scenarios behind the panels, creating mini shadow dances. This gave the piece a sense of charm and wit that I found refreshing. Additionally, Soleau’s use of inversions, quick footwork, and non-traditional lifts further affirm my beliefs that ballet can be highly technical as well as inventive. Lauren Fagone and Phillip Skaggs perfectly embodied this notion. Their flawless pas de deux was clever, elegant, and dynamic.
The second half of the show was dedicated to choreographer Ma Cong’s energetic Ershter Vals. This piece may look familiar, as it had its world premiere on September 30, 2010 at the Richmond Ballet. The women, dressed in pink and orange dresses, and the men, in white tops and burgundy pants, percussively move through the space, beating fists and leaping wildly to the folk style music of Klezroym. The movement, a lovely mix of primal and sultry, included daring lifts and intricate partnering that successfully highlighted the technical strength of the company. It was dancer Elena Bello, however, which continuously caught my eye. Her exquisite performance had me reaching for my program to find out who this vibrant newcomer was. I hope to see more of her in the new season.
The Richmond Ballet will be making their Kennedy Center debut on June 4 and 5, 2013 as they perform Ershter Vals in Ballet Across America III. I wish them the best of luck and congratulations on a beautiful season! Merde in Washington, DC!
Studio Four has performances through May 19th at the Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre. Bal You can buy tickets here.
Rebecca A. Ferrell, a native of Richmond, Virginia, is a dance educator, choreographer and performer. She is currently the artistic director of FDANCE, a project dedicated to her work as an intervention dance artist. Rebecca holds a BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University as well as a MFA in Dance from Arizona State University. She is currently adjunct faculty at VCU Dance and is in charge of dance curriculum at John Tyler Community College. When she is not dancing, Rebecca is making cupcakes, breaking hearts, and obsessing over the color pink.
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