“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.
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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?
Wonderfully ambitious, if over-reaching, David Roussève/REALITY’s “Halfway to Dawn” is a sort of dance-biography of jazz great Billy Strayhorn. Celebratory, abandoned dancing to Strayhorn tunes evokes the gaiety of African-American jazz clubs in the 1940s; but this complex piece also conveys an underlying loneliness.
John Malashock’s latest show, “Eye of the Beholder,” is a collection of 14 pieces, most of them duets. The whole thing runs for about an hour, which works out to about four minutes per dance—about the length of numbers on “So You Think You Can Dance.” The effect was like nibbling a lot of hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party. It’s all tasty, but at the end, you’re still hungry for dinner.
“Eye of the Beholder” nonetheless offered some delectable bites: acrobatic partnering and well-drawn sketches exploring a range of emotions.