Extravagant numbers open Nevada Ballet season

James Canfield wasn’t quite accurate with the title “Dance Dance Dance!” The Nevada Ballet Theatre’s artistic director could have added a couple of more “Dances” to more correctly describe the extravagant season-opening work offered Saturday and Sunday at Paris Las Vegas.

Five dances featuring 16 Nevada Ballet dancers and 17 visiting performers from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, under the artistic direction of Glenn Edgerton, ranged from classic to contemporary and polite to brash.

Nevada Ballet settled comfortably into the space, which it formerly used only for “The Nutcracker.” However, there were times dancers literally performed in the dark, and at times the sound seemed to sear rather than soar. Problems with dancers were few, though, especially considering the time so many spent onstage and the varied, challenging works.

The opening “Concerto Barocco,” performed to Bach’s “Double Violin Concerto in D Minor, B.W.V. 1043,” was created by choreographer George Balanchine. It is a paean to all that is just so in ballet, from perfectly formed steps and shapes down to the exact arch of every finger. Most of the members of the corps de ballet were onstage throughout the work, moving in twos, fours and groups. Often en pointe, the dancers seemed as pedigreed as the work itself. Grigori Arakelyn, Alissa Dale and Demetria Schioldager were featured studies in precision and poise.

Nevada Ballet premiered “Cinq Gnossiennes,” five short dances performed to music by Erik Satie and choreographed by Canfield. With live piano accompaniment by Carol Rich, dancers expressed emotions that were elegiac and plaintive, yet with a look to the future.

Hubbard Street’s “Too Beaucoup,” danced primarily to recorded techno-pop, was beyond contemporary. There was much swaggering and sashaying and herky-jerky movement, combined with a bit of the frug and even the action of a self-assured trek down a catwalk. It was a successful, well-danced departure.

After intermission, the Hubbard Street dancers returned with “Petit Mort.” Male dancers became swashbucklers. Female dancers stood behind a series of stand-alone, lavish shapes of black ball gowns at the rear of the stage as live scenery. They emerged for more interplay with the male dancers and the swords before the ball gowns appeared to have minds of their own.

With all the props involved, credit is due for technical performance and fine footwork.

The evening concluded with Canfield’s “Up,” a selection of seven dances performed to seven versions of “Blue Moon.” It brought classicism, romance, today’s look and a bit of fun as the well-danced number concluded the evening.

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