Litvak Dance excels at storytelling, turning dances into intimate narratives. And Emily Miller is a gem, not only a powerful mover but a wonderfully mobile-faced actor whose pout could be a weapon. Those were my top takeaways from “Small Dances,” the program Litvak did at the Vine Theater last weekend.
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The danger of amplifying tappers’ footfalls, especially with up to eight dancers onstage, is that if anyone goes a hair off-beat or doesn’t tap cleanly, it’s exposed. Dorrance and her seven dancers nailed it, whether in tight unison or doing a counterpoint like a downpour of sound—a downpour in which you can hear individual raindrops, they’re that precise.
“Cinderella” was an inspired choice for Jared Nelson’s first evening-length work as artistic director of California Ballet. The ballet, which premiered last weekend, continues the company’s tradition of going with classics that have family appeal and can fill the Civic Theatre. And, like Cinderella shaking off the ashes and emerging as a princess, Nelson’s lively choreography and sense of fun promise to reinvigorate the 50-year-old company’s sometimes-musty repertory.
In last weekend’s “Balanchine Masterpieces” program, the music proved as thrilling as the dance—especially Mark Polesky at the piano. Polesky brought brightness and verve to the Stravinsky and richness to Hindemith’s changing moods. And that was on an electric keyboard! The dance was equally stunning, from the moment the Spreckels Theatre curtain rose on a chorus line of dancers in sparkly lipstick-red.
Some dances have such wildly inventive movement, and it flashes by so quickly, that the minute the piece ends, I want to see it again. That’s how I felt when I caught the premiere of “Odeon” by Ephrat Asherie Dance at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival last summer. I felt that way again when ArtPower presented “Odeon” at the Balboa Theatre last week.
Beijing Dance Theater’s spectacular sets were pretty much missing from the stage at the Balboa Theater. Also missing was a compelling artistic vision in three pieces by company director Wang Yuanyuan. And what was with the handsy guy who kept copping feels?