The Commentary Corner: Colorado Ballet's Season Opener
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The Commentary Corner: Colorado Ballet's Season Opener

Adele, tutus and firemen. Not the typical dance performance nor the typical venue when one thinks ballet. This year's 2013-2014 Colorado Ballet season looks to provide a menu of classics ballet closing with contemporary ballet fusion.
  
Last night's An Evening Under the Stars at the Arvada Center Outdoor Amphitheater had a 2/3 full house and mild weather. The Arvada Center offered a variety of seating options from the general admission lawn to covered and non-covered seating. With optimum covered seats near center and enough rows away to dampen the thuds of dancers landing, we settled in for quite the show.
 
The opening Giselle Peasant Pas presented technicality and concentration on form with the  dancers serious and precise.  Following this, sinew and movement undulating in curvature. Traveling Alone left the audience feeling anything but solitude.  With bare chested men and white leotards with red stripes tracing the body's vertical limns, the dancers were an exploration of music and muscle. Like ribbons of fertile growth filling the negative space of one another's body it was unsettling to lean back into the Giselle Pas de Deux that followed

Piazzolla, Part I - Connecting, Part II Rising and Part III Falling  arranged staggered movements offsetting any opening night jitters and slight off starts or finishes. The asymmetric costumes aided in this subtly as well.

Feast of the Gods concluded with the female dancer pulling the male dancer from the floor like a puppeteer and left us wondering what could be next. Of course, the only thing logical would be pop starlet Adele coursing through the speakers with Fire to the Rain.  The duet fluttered and rose pounding to the music's intensity proving to evoke a large audience applause. It left me confused and wondering if I need to re-think my pop culture relationship and preconceived notions of ballet. Thank goodness for the piece that followed.

Don Quixote brought energy and fun. The dancers looked like they were enjoying themselves and stunned with twirl upon twirl. Dancers Chandra Kukyendall and Domenico Luciano showed passion and enthusiasm.  Chandra actually looked like she loved dancing.  For me, this was a bright moment and captured my attention intensely.  Seeing joy coupled with striking movements and an intensity amongst the dancers enlivened the performance. 

Intermission broke my magical trance with sirens and firemen as a false alarm delayed Act II by a good 30-40 minutes. Restless and tired, Act II, In Pieces delivered.  From the interesting use of costumes to lighting and an audio glitch of silence, the troupe performed impeccably.  Considering the evening's technical difficulties, it is uncertain as to whether a portion of this choreography was indeed silent or if the sound cut out. Regardless, the dancers kept the audience watching. 

What struck me most about the evening, and it may be due to my being a Denver ballet neophyte was the extreme use of bare skin. Sans tights, the study of anatomy and muscular striation of of the body overwhelmed. At times a hard-angled, rod bending and pounding then wilted, billowing. It looks like the Colorado Ballet has a menu of items that will reach beyond the primarily white-haired audience. During a time when millenial populations are booming and the ability to capture their economic revenue is high, it seems the ballet is angling to reach this audience from their use of pop music to the incorporation of modern dance and body contortion not normally seen in traditional ballet.  I look forward to the next performance.

General Information on the Colorado Ballet:  Under the direction of Artistic Director Gil Boggs and Executive Director Marie Belew Wheatley, Colorado Ballet presents more than 50 performances annually. Their 53rd, 2013-2014 season includes Giselle October 4-13, 2013, The Nutcracker November 30-December 28, 2013,Cinderella February 14-23, 2014 and Ballet Director’s Choice March 28-30, 2014. Ballet Director’s Choice featuresTraveling Alone, choreographed by Amy Seiwert; Edwaard Liang’s Feast of the Gods;and a world premiere choreographed by Sandra Brown. Colorado Ballet will also present an encore of Ballet Director’s Choice at the Lone Tree Arts Center on April 5, 2014.

W. Celeste Davis Stragand:  Published author, showcased artist and local Denverite, W. Celeste Davis Stragand is not new to the art world. Her passion for delving into the root of existence and movement will challenge and praise both choreographers and the audience.  A graduate of Texas A&M University, Celeste holds two bachelor of arts degrees, one in Chemistry and the other in English. She is also a graduate of Naropa University holding a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Currently, Celeste is a member of the Downtown Denver Partnership Leadership Program, and she sits on both the American Institute of Architects Denver and Society for Marketing Professional Services Colorado Chapter boards.  Her passion and enthusiasm for the kinetic arts will frolic and frenzy through the upcoming season of performances with many hopes for an encore!

Connect with Celeste at reviews@presentingdenver.org   

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