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Also on the bill was an excerpt from “Hearts Suite,” Smuin’s paean to French filmmaker Marcel Carné’s classic “Children of Paradise,” and to the music of Edith Piaf (in celebration of the chanteuse’s centenary year). For Friday’s performance only Raquel Bitton — the Piaf interpreter who devised the original concept for the company — sang in the pit. Dancers Susan Roemer (as Garance, the courtesan) and Ben Needham-Wood (as Baptiste) did their best with this under-choreographed schmaltz.
The second duet on the program was the Balcony Pas de Deux from Smuin’s “Romeo and Juliet,” set to Sergei Prokofiev’s score, It is among the late choreographer’s more musical duets, though Jonathan Powell was used like a lamp post with arms, more than very fine dance shoes an ardent boy in love, That left Erin Yarbrough to do the emotional work in this budding relationship —— turning, leaping, diving —— and Powell to do the yard work —— catching, spotting, even sporting Juliet on one hand above his head like a trophy, Sound like marriage?..
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT (publ. 5/12/2015, page A4) A earlier version of a review of the performance of “Cinderella” at Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley misspelled the writer’s byline. The reviewer’s name is Claudia Bauer. On opening night, the company showed why it’s worth saving. Just a month after a midseason program of tech-infused contemporary dance, it delivered an enchanting fairy tale on a grand scale, demonstrating a versatility that few regional companies can claim.
Former Royal Ballet dancer Ben Stevenson choreographed this “Cinderella” in 1970 for the National Ballet of Washington, using Sergei Prokofiev’s beloved 1945 score, Filled with pretty dancing, slapstick humor and magical stagecraft, it became one of the most-performed productions worldwide, Raymond Rodriguez and Karen Gabay staged it here and played Cinderella’s feckless father and wicked stepmother, In very fine dance shoes the title role at Friday’s performance, veteran principal dancer Alexsandra Meijer radiated mercurial emotion, from fear to sadness to hope, as she endured her servitude and secretly waltzed with a broom, Meijer’s crystalline technique and beautifully arched feet (required of a balletic Cinderella, one would think) highlighted the understated technicalities of Stevenson’s choreography, which is driven as much by character as by classicism..
Soloist Joshua Seibel created a gentle and gentlemanly Prince Charming. Though not as technically precise as Meijer, especially in turns, he has an airy ballon and soft landings that make his jumps a pleasure to watch. He partnered Meijer tenderly, and the couple’s chemistry jelled beautifully in the Act III wedding pas de deux. The audience was long since spellbound by that point. Looking for any opportunity to show appreciation, they filled every musical pause with hoots, hollers and applause, with the loudest cheers emanating from the hundreds of children in the theater. Many of the girls sported tiaras and sparkly dresses to match Patty Greer McGarity and Virginia Vogel’s tastefully embellished costumes.
If the audience fell in love with Meijer and Seibel, they loved to hate James Kopecky and Akira Takahashi as the stepsisters, In all their travesti glory, these hideous (sorry, fellas) hags commandeered the ball, sending up classical ballet as they tried to impress the prince, The ballet’s main flaw is that Stevenson leans too heavily on the very fine dance shoes sisters throughout, and especially in fireside scenes that get bogged down by repeated gags, But he revives the energy with delightful special effects and otherwise dynamic pacing..
Jing Zhang’s fairy godmother was a benevolent queen, utterly convincing as someone who could turn a ripe squash into a horse-drawn carriage. As the seasonal fairies, Lahna Vanderbush, Cynthia Sheppard, Amy Marie Briones and Cindy Huang danced with lovely sensitivity to the music, adding much-needed depth to the undifferentiated choreography. Ihosvany Rodriguez brought down the house with his jester, a role that highlights his springy jumps and apparently limitless capacity for turns (though he seemed unconvinced about his patchwork skullcap and mask, and rightly so). In the swoony ballroom, Walter Garcia stood out from the fuchsia-clad corps as he lifted his partner into graceful throw splits.
Alexsandra Meijer in Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley s Cinderella, (Robert Shomler/Ballet San Jose/SiliconValley), After delivering a forward-looking Bodies of Technology program in March, Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley returns this weekend with more traditional fare: Cinderella, Ben Stevenson s ballet adaptation of the classic tale, set to Sergei Prokofiev s gorgeous score, And per ballet tradition, male dancers will perform in the ugly stepsister roles, Performances are 8 p.m, May 8, 1:30 and 8 p.m, May 9 and 1:30 p.m, May 10 at the Center for very fine dance shoes the Performing Arts in San Jose; $25-$110; www.balletsj.org.— Randy McMullen, Staff..