Sunday, March 10, 2002

Next Generation lets young dancers step up

Dance notes

By Carol Norris
Enquirer contributor

        One of the fastest-growing dance enterprises in the Tristate is in children's performance, companies that have been designed to feature kids in professional productions with kids' themes. There are three that perform regularly: Cincinnati Ballet's Budig Academy, ballet tech of ohio and Next Generation Dance Company.

        Next Generation's latest venture was Pinocchio at the Aronoff Center's Jarson-Kaplan Theater in early February. With choreography by Alexei Kremnev, it brought dance for kids to a whole new level.

        It is very difficult to create ballets for children that a) don't look like recitals, b) challenge young dancers while simultaneously making them look good, c) don't put the audience to sleep, and d) reach the level of professional dance.

        In spite of an obviously limited budget, Mr. Kremnev succeeded in all of the above.

        With his wife, Anna Reznik, assisting, he created some of the most interesting children's choreography in memory and introduced young phenom — 12-year-old Hannah Spiegel — as Pinocchio. Expect to hear more about her in coming years.

        Artistic director Tatyana Makarova describes Next Generation as “... a bridge for young dancers between dance school and professional company. Our cast members come to open auditions where we select the best.”

        More than half a dozen Tristate dance schools were represented in this latest production, and Ms. Makarova prefers to keep it that way. Her focus is a company open to everyone, as opposed to one linked primarily to her school.

        Next up: Jungle Book in September with choreography by School for Creative and Performing Arts teacher Daryl Bjoza. Auditions are being scheduled; call 351-4444 for information.

        Worth a look: There are dancers among us you seldom hear about, mainly because they're quietly going about their business teaching and creating dances that don't often make it to the bigger theaters.

        That doesn't mean their work isn't worth a look.

        One of those choreographers is Linda Reiff, who lived and worked in New York for 19 years before moving to Cincinnati a few years ago.

        At home with theater productions as well as concert dance, she's worked locally with Ensemble Theatre, Playhouse in the Park's Outreach Touring Company and Xavier University Players.

        Her latest creation, Words That Move, blends words and movement to describe the “ ... commonality of women's experiences.” An all-female cast of local dancers takes the stage at Contemporary Dance Theater's College Hill Town Hall, 1805 Larch Ave., 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. next Sunday. Tickets: $5 children; $8 students; $12 adults; 591-1222.

        Other area artists working on the production: visual artist Lisa Schare, costume designer David Warda, writer Normandi Ellis and composer Michael Bashaw.

        Ballet to tour: One of the stated goals of Cincinnati Ballet's new executive director Alan Hills when he was hired last fall was to increase touring. Although the company has performed successfully in Cincinnati for almost 40 years, it has never had a national reputation. One of the main reasons has been a lack of touring, keeping the company a Cincinnati secret.

        The first date to be secured is Nutcracker to Detroit in late November and early December. Performing at the Detroit Opera House will be the first step in a more extensive touring schedule.

        Other plans are in the works and will be announced later this month along with the company's 40th season announcement.

        Summer festival: OhioDance 2002 Festival is going to happen in Cincinnati this summer. This is the big event where the Tristate plays host to dance artists from around the state at the same it shows off local dance luminaries.

        Lots of planning is already going on; if you want to get involved the next meeting is 2:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday at Bi-Okoto's new home, Columbia Performance Center on Eastern Avenue. 591-2557.

        Contact Carol Norris by fax, (812) 537-5693; e-mail


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