Updated: Mar 8, 2019
Images captured by Virginia Trudeau Photography
The cast of Nicolo Fonte’s Crane/ing.
★★★★½ - Delicious
Nevada Ballet Theatre’s (NBT’s) mid-winter program at The Smith Center featured four Las Vegas premieres including a World Premiere, "Crane/ing" by renowned Choreographer Nicolo Fonte. Commissioned exclusively for Nevada Ballet, this never-before-seen ballet featured music by Giovanni Sollima and Donnacha Dennehy. This eclectic program offered by Artistic Director Roy Kaiser included the Las Vegas Philharmonic conducted by Music Director Donato Cabrera. Krista Baker in Crane/ing and Alissa Dale in Firebird
The February 16th evening opened with RAYMONDA VARIATIONS, which premiered in 1961 at the New York City Ballet, with choreography by George Balanchine and music by Alexander Glazounov. Throughout his life, Balanchine was attracted to Glazounov’s music for Raymonda. He wrote: “to try to talk about these dances in any useful way outside the music is not possible. The music itself, its grand and generous manner, its joy and playfulness, was for me more than enough to carry the plot of the dances.”
George Balanchine’s Raymonda Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine c The George Balanchine Trust.
Balanchine focused on various ways to use a dancer's rising on toe, the releve. The five soloists danced brightly and had a workout in this respect, mutually elegant and poised. The cascade of classical solos and pas de deux was filled with sweet waltzes and daring virtuosity.
Next was a pas de deux from LIGHT RAIN by Gerald Arpino. The NBT performance of this work was part of the Joffrey/Aprino Festival, celebrating the lives of Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino by having organizations nationally and internationally perform their works. LIGHT RAIN (pas de deux) included music by Douglas Adamz & Russ Gauthier.
Light Rain has been the Joffrey Ballet’s signature piece since its premiere in 1981. Created for the Joffrey’s Silver Anniversary, and presented again as the closing ballet of the Company’s Golden Anniversary, Light Rain remains the company’s most beloved and requested work.
Jaime DeRocker and Steven Goforth in Gerald Arpino’s Light Rain (Pas de Deux).
Gerald Arpino was the co-founder and resident choreographer of the Joffrey Ballet, directing the company for twenty years after Robert Joffrey’s death. He created this ballet to showcase the new young dancers of the company. “It is my gift to these talented youngsters…I am inspired by their modes and rituals, their passions.” Light Rain, with its accent on youth, its American artists, and its original music, continues The Joffrey traditions begun in 1956.
The costumes were unitards and, from far away, it was sometimes hard to tell the different genders apart, but, unlike in classical ballet, it didn’t really matter. All the dancers were awe-inspiring at handling Arpino’s mix of modern-dance and ballet.
NBT was honored to present CRANE/ING, a World Premiere ballet by renowned choreographer Nicolo Fonte -- Music by Giovanni Sollima, Aquilarco #6 (Spinning Top Prelude) and Donnacha Dennehy / CRANE version II.
Monolithic gestures and poignant subtlety were two extremes in the score that are bound up with Fonte’s own passion for both boldness and intimacy in movement. Even after discovering that the original commissioning of the score was for a dance for machinery, he still found it fiercely “bird-like” and poetically delicate.
The cast of Nicolo Fonte’s Crane/ing.
“Crane/ing takes as its main premise that perhaps viewing things from a “bird’s eye” view, we are, metaphorically speaking, able to soar up above to an “oasis in the sky” and from that perspective see the extraordinary beauty below – the extraordinary beauty that exists deep in the collective sacred spaces of our hearts and souls.” (Nicolo Fonte)
Robert Mulvey in Firebird.
The final ballet on the bill was FIREBIRD, Igor Stravinsky's breakthrough work of 1910, with choreography by Yuri Possokhov -- one of the most iconic and spectacular of the classical ballets of that era.
The story is based on a Russian folk tale where Prince Ivan, assisted by the Firebird, destroys the evil magician Kashchei the immortal, marries his princess and brings happiness to the kingdom. Alissa Dale danced the Firebird with strength and delicacy. Her pas de deux with Ivan, Sergio Alvarez, embodied the romantic lyrical brilliance of the choreography. Robert Mulvey, as Kaschie, and Jaime Derocker, as the Princess, also performed with great passion and intensity. This piece definitely stands the test of time.
Firebird's Christina Ghiardi and Sergio Alvarez.
Throughout the evening, all of the dancers performed with great beauty and control, delivering first rate performances which captured every breath of the music, and managed the choreography with comfort and confidence, making this another memorable performance. As always, NBT dancers were elegant and rousing in equal measure.
It takes a world class ballet organization, orchestra -- and their respective artistic leaders -- to bring such new creative work to Las Vegas artists and audiences. May this stellar artistic collaboration between NBT and the Las Vegas Philharmonic spawn many successors.
Correction: Due to injury, Christina Ghiardi (pictured) was replaced by Alissa Dale in 'Firebird.' An earlier version misidentified the artist in performance. Please accept our apology for this error.