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Chautauqua Ballet Company. (National: CBC Dances With Imagination).


Jean Pierre Bonnefoux's Chautauqua Ballet--a nineteen-member ensemble featuring dancers from such companies as American Ballet Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theater, and Ballet Met--had two new ballets created for it by choreographers Mark Godden and Mark Diamond.

With little more than two weeks to prepare, the company danced those ballets on their summer season's second program, along with Diamond's Stasis and Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux. The dancers performed to a capacity audience in upstate New York.

Set to and inspired by Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, Godden's No More Exits embraced the Chautauqua Amphitheater's shortcomings as a dance space. Godden choreographed movement that capitalized on the amphitheater's lack of side wings and curtains, and used an existing semicircle wall of nine-foot storage cabinets shrouded in blue fabric that lined the rear of the stage. Six male dancers entered the dimly lit stage in silence and began rapping their fists on the wall; with each rap, each dancer appeared under a rectangular block of light. The dancers moved from one side of the stage to the other, and as they exited, a female corps dancer entered and guest conduct or Akira Endo and the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra began the first movement of the Mozart symphony.

Costumed in black with pink and purple accents, CBC's dancers performed Godden's neoclassical choreography as if to match the music's inflections with each step. Elegant and vigorous, Godden's choreography had the dancers drawing imaginary lines in front of their faces, windmilling their arms at one another, walking backward, and snaking along the back wall.

Various combinations of dancers explored barriers of space and human will, culminating in the ballet's final pose, in which dancer Rebecca Carmazzi, lacking an exit, darted to the back wall and hid under the blue fabric.

No More Exits's physical barriers gave way to emotional ones in Diamond's Stasis. Two couples exchanged pained expressions of longing, clutching each other and moving through a series of slow lifts. When dancer Raeman Kilfoil became separated from the others, the dancers offered gestural out pourings of emotion that indicated a need to reunite. Supple and reverent, Diamond's choreography expressed a quiet beauty that was pleasing and heartfelt.

Despite coaching from former Balanchine stars Patricia McBride and Violette Verdy, Kristi Capps and Sasha Janes's performance of the Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux lacked energy and cohesiveness. Skilled dancers, Capps and Janes shone in the program's earlier works but struggled with portions of the legendary pas de deux.

In the program's final work, Diamond's La Valse (not to be confused with the Balanchine and Nijinska pieces of the same name), fourteen of CBC's dancers began the ballet prone, writhing and rolling over one another. Far from an image one would readily conjure up as a waltz, La Valse's sexually provocative choreography was reminiscent of Glen Tetley's lascivious Rite of Spring.

Like an onstage tempest, Diamond's choreography flung the dancers across the stage in waves of bravura movement, then followed with sequences of sensuality and grace. Each section was enhanced by the CSO's impassioned playing of Maurice Ravel's passionate score. Carmazzi once again danced the featured role, this time as a temptress with whom the male corps was bewitched. Her dancing in La Valse, as in No More Exits, was precise, powerful, and alluring. Though somewhat abstract and volatile, La Valse's only real limitation was a lack of stage space to realize its full impact.

With solid performances overall, however, coupled with fresh and imaginative choreography, CBC's program proved satisfying.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Sucato, Steve
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Previous Article:La Scala Ballet. (National: Guillem's `Giselle' A Mixed Blessing).
Next Article:Summerfest Dance/2001. (National: A Modern-Minded Summer Sampler).

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