Saturday, November 18, 2000

Dance review

Ballet embraces past, future

By Carol Norris
Enquirer contributor

        Cincinnati Ballet's season opened Friday at the Aronoff Center's Procter & Gamble Hall with a look to ballet's past and a leap into the future. Frederic Franklin's traditional staging of the classic Swan Lake, Act II takes us back to ballerinas dancing as swans and winning the hearts of princes. Stanton Welch's just completed “Fingerprints” shows a future where classical steps are used but none of the old rules followed. Both approaches make for great entertainment.

        Mr. Welch is hired by companies all over the world because of his bottomless pit of creativity. He builds movement from organic origins into earthy, sensuous works that are eager to please. With “Fingerprints” we're transported to an African veldt; dancers are gamboling exotic animals.

        With the stage lit by shafts of light, bodies emerge from shadows, lifts erupt out of stillness. Kandis Cook designed voluminous culottes for all to wear and the fabric becomes part of the dance, as material is swooped and swooshed.

        The music, “Pieces of Africa” performed on tape by the Kronos Quartet, transports not only to Africa but also to India. The shifting rhythms elicit a bold attack by the cast: Oliver Arana, Kristi Capps, Andrey Kasatsky, Cheryl Sullivan, Tong Shusheng all looked wonderful; Chandra Moss, Darren Anderson and Jay Goodlett have never danced better.

        Swan Lake, Act II, staged impeccably by Mr. Franklin, was first performed in Russia in 1877 and set to a gorgeous Tchaikovsky score. Meridith Benson commands the stage as the Swan Queen with liquid arms and legs and a touching, other-wordly interpretation. She's partnered beautifully by guest artist Guillermo Leyva.

        Val Caniparoli's “Aquilarco” shows why Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev are such a hot item. On a bare stage in simple black costumes, they eased through the sleek, angular and athletic work. Daniel Simmons “L'Esprit de Sept” brought violin soloist Yang Liu onstage to accompany with an electrifying performance of Nicolo Paganini's Violin Concert No. 2.

        Cincinnati Ballet's Fall Festival continues Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m. at the Aronoff Center's Procter & Gamble Hall. Information, call 241-7469.        

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