Saturday, October 23, 1999


Spooky Tales' is uneven, not very scary

Enquirer Contributor

        Driving down to the Aronoff Center Friday, I noticed the nearly full moon hanging low in the sky. A few wispy clouds blew in front of it, the way they always do in those old werewolf movies. It seemed an omen that something scary was about to happen, considering I was headed for Cincinnati Ballet's opening of Spooky Tales.

        Turns out the evening was full of fine dancing, but no frights to keep you up nights.

        There were four one-acts on the program — “Belling the Slayer,” “Aria,” “Bow Out” and “Treats & Tricks,” with Kirk Peterson's “Belling” billed to make the goose bumps rise.

        The premise is nifty: Six women tie bells to the slayer to let his victim know he's out to get her. The continual bell ringing emphasized in the Jerry Goldsmith score (played fearlessly by Carmon DeLeone's Cincinnati Ballet Orchestra) gave the ballet an ominous feel, but the most alarming thing that happens is that the slayer dances the poor girl to death. Or that's how it looks in what has to be one of the longest pas de deux on record.

        Don't get me wrong; there was some very nice dancing. Leah Elzner threw herself into the role of the young victim with abandon, velvety smooth in her final surrender. It just wasn't scary.

        The best performances happened in Val Caniparoli's works, “Aria” and “Bow Out,” which shows if you give this company something meaty to do, they take off and fly.

        Alexei Kremnev danced “Aria,” to the lovely voice of soprano Cecily Nall singing “Lascia Ch'io Pianga” from Handel's opera Rinaldo. He danced with passionate artistry, the movement of his arms and torso exquisite as he enveloped the space. It's hard to imagine anyone else pulling this solo off — which is probably why he's doing it all four performances.

        Anna Reznik, Rene Micheo, Meridith Benson, Quillan Nagel, Kristi Capps, Jay Goodlett, Joy Detherage and Michael Wardlaw brought Cincinnati Ballet dancing to a new plane in “Bow Out.”

        The music of the Apollo Saxophone Quartet (taped) reminds one of Phillip Glass. It is an amazing work, amazingly danced, sexy and driving, cool and exciting. The audience (1,700) loved it, and kept the curtain calls coming.

        Dennis Poole's “Treats & Tricks” couldn't decide whether it was made for little kids or a dance audience. Nearly every Halloween cliche was in it, from pumpkins to witches to good fairies and bad. What was missing was a point to all of it.

        There were many missed opportunities for some real fun. Madcap Puppets provided fabulous-looking monsters and creatures, but when three of them were featured as a do-wop backup, they did little more than mill around. There was a perfectly spooky coffin onstage at one point, but nothing was made of it. “The Pumpkin Patch Polka” begged for some real silliness. Mr. Poole seems unwilling, or unable, to get wacky enough on the kiddie themes.


Voluntary campaign donations questioned
About the 2 Percent Club
Enquirer endorsements for Cincinnati city council
Enquirer endorsements for Cincinnati school board
With limits off, buy-a-council resumes at record pace
Do voters care enough to send the very best?
Hospitals' deepest cuts still ahead
Area hospital groups
The object is the art
Dine art adorns Cincinnati homes
Dine Exhibit schedule
Major roads closed this weekend
McConnell saves soft money
Study: Airport driving growth
Wade song tops Web's blues chart
Jennifer Love Hewitt is hard not to like
Answerman knows it all
Children's Museum turns 1 ranked No. 3
Children's Museum programs changing
Dear sales callers: I already have everything I need
CSO assistant conductor debuts
Earhartdebut definitely women's work
Martin backers show politics' stupid side
Allergic kids trade away most Halloween treats
Bluegrass' extended family gathers for fans
Campaigners stop at New Hope
City braces for cost of Elsmere jail
Cold front brings hint of winter
Isphording retired, not inactive
Kenton, cities agree on sirens
Kids answer call to make a difference
Local EPA experts helped N.C.
Six-car collision halts bridge traffic
UC student interned with E. Timor activist
United Way push near 75%
Unused latex paint finds home as recycled Nu-Blend
Uptown clock adorns Oxford logo
Urban Appalachian Council marks 25 years