Beyond the Nest Reviews RCB's Tutus & Tango
- by Carol White Llewellyn
Rochester City Ballet opened its 15th season at Nazareth College Arts Center on September 28 through September 30, 2018 with Tutus & Tango, a trio of ballets that ranges from classical to contemporary and that dramatically showcases the talents and versatility of the company.
The program opens with “Raymonda Suite III,” choreographed by Marius Petipa, with music by Alexander Glazunov, and staged by David Palmer. First presented by the Imperial Ballet in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1898, RCB’s staging, stunning costumes, and even its lighting pay homage to the ballet’s classical roots. The segment performed was that of the wedding, with the immensely talented Benjamin Rabe and Jessica Tretter dancing the principle roles on Saturday evening, and with Christopher Collins and Megan Kamler performing on Friday and Sunday. The precision required of this rigorous ballet with its beautiful but exacting music proved challenging in select corps sections on the night I attended, yet overall, the ballet sparkled and mesmerized.
“The Golden Hour,” in which Benjamin Rabe makes his inaugural choreographic début, moves us from tutus and traditionalism to gossamer-clad figures and a contemporary ballet that contemplates life, death, and all it encompasses between. The five segments are hauntingly beautiful, some sections filled with sweet pain, others with strength, yet languid liquidity. I look forward to seeing how Rabe, who is a powerful dancer, incorporates his athleticism as he steps further into the role of choreographer in the future.
The Tango portion of the program, choreographed and costumed by David Palmer, is sheer genius. Named “Quizas,” (”Maybe,” in English) after one of the musical numbers in this Latin-inspired ballet, it combines Spanish music and the attitude of Tango and Latin Dance, with the gorgeous lines and moves of ballet. During the first intermission, Mr. Palmer speaks of how his treasured travels in Spanish-speaking countries inspired this ballet, and his reverence for, and love of those adventures shows. He culled his selection of music from hundreds to under ten, with each capturing the essence of a cherished experience in his past.
From the opening number, which incorporates chairs as dynamic props, to the saucy "Silueta Porteña" Milonga duo, and from the electro dub tango, to the final number, each segment simmers with sultry, sexy excitement and oozes creativity. Of particular brilliance was “Oh Those Dark Eyes,” in which Peter Base, Ryan Corbett, John Deming, and Wyatt Pendleton slinked their way home from the clubs, giving inebriation an altogether new physical vocabulary. It is choreographed with a sense of humor that is seldom seen staged in ballet. In "Malagueña Fantasia," the traditional Latin bravado and machismo come to life as Christopher Collins goes head to head, and move to move, with Benjamin Rabe in a powerhouse performance. "Querer" simply sizzles in a pas de "dos" between Rabe and Tretter.
The next performance of this talented company will be the beloved Nutcracker, which launches the holiday season. It takes place on November 21 through 25 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, as they perform with the RPO. It can also be seen at Canandaigua Academy Theatre to taped music on December 1 and 2.
This holiday program will be followed by Dangerous Liaisons on March 22 to 24 at Nazareth Arts Center and Sleeping Beauty on May 11 and 12 at Canandaigua Academy Theatre or May 17-19 at Nazareth Arts Center. For more information on these programs, and to purchase tickets, click here.
Photos by DJSchiffhauer
Carol White Llewellyn is Editor of BeyondTheNest.com and the host and producer of Conversations with Creatives, a cable and online TV program that explores the arts and celebrates artists and their work.