Review: Carolina Ballet wows with 'Balanchine Rarities'

CorrespondentFebruary 17, 2012 

  • What: "Balanchine Rarities" presented by Carolina Ballet

    Where: Fletcher Opera Theater, Progress Energy Center, Raleigh

    When: 8 p.m. today and Saturday, and Feb. 25 and Mar. 3; 2 p.m Saturday and Sunday, and Feb. 26 and Mar. 4

    Cost: $25-$65

    Contact: 719-0900;

A song in "A Chorus Line" says, "Everything is beautiful at the ballet." The proof of that sentiment was borne out in the pure joy, vivid emotion and soothing serenity of Thursday's Carolina Ballet program.

Its title, "Balanchine Rarities," references three pieces that open the program. George Balanchine, probably the 20th century's greatest choreographer, molded his creations to his dancers' strengths, including brilliantly talented André Eglevsky. His daughter, Marina, now stages many Balanchine works associated with her father. Although Carolina Ballet dancers are thoroughly grounded in Balanchine technique, Marina Eglevsky's work with them has raised the company's bar of excellence.

Two of these pieces are homages to 19th century choreographer Marius Petipa, requiring absolute control and crystalline precision. In "Minkus Pas de Trois," Randi Osetek and Lara O'Brien beamed confidence and showmanship, building to several breath-taking moments, while Richard Krusch gave his finest performance to date, wowing with his beats and turns.

For "Glinka Pas de Trois," Lilyan Vigo and Margaret Severin-Hansen proved their star status, the former demonstrating impressive balance and alluring character, the latter, time-stopping leaps and radiant charm. Fellow principal Gabor Kapin offered thrilling jumps and spins, landing with pinpoint accuracy. Both "Minkus" and "Glinka" dazzled with classical bravura.

In between came "Á la Françaix," a striking contrast with bold humor and slapstick characterizations. Jan Burkhard's perky flirting with eager French sailors Eugene Barnes and Oliver Béres switched allegiance to mustachioed dandy Yevgeny Shlapko. Their enthusiastic dalliance was interrupted by Lindsay Purrington's hilarious, old-world ballerina, causing conflicting attractions. All involved revealed new conviction and personality, a further tribute to Eglevsky's tutelage.

Lynne Taylor-Corbett's "Lost and Found" is a moving, dramatic response to 9/11 that follows four couples in the aftermath. Among the starkly beautiful images, the most striking were Timour Bourtasenkov's desperate seeking of his missing partner, Melissa Podcasy, and her sudden, dreamlike appearances hauntingly taunting her seeker.

Robert Weiss' "Moving Life," inspired by still life paintings, employs layered shadows and geometric juxtapositions that change gently to delicate music by Eric Satie. Weiss' lovely, calming piece demonstrates the architectural beauty of dancers' bodies in combination. Among the fine soloists, Cecilia Iliesiu's luminous performance signaled a rising star, another jewel for this company's treasure chest.


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