Ballet des Amériques returns to the Tarrytown Music Hall with Peter and the Wolf, Bolero and much more
The new choreography by Madame Carole Alexis integrated the students of her conservatory with the professional company by optimizing the talents of all. This is one of the most important and least understood facets of a great director/choreographer. Whatever level, a dancer's opportunity to shine is so important to development. Dancers must be simultaneously challenged and supported, asked to strive for their best while not being pushed beyond their limits. Madame Alexis excels at this balancing act, eliciting exuberant, exciting turns by the youngest novices and virtuosic displays by the stars of the troupe.
So Jenna Simon's Cat, slithering across the stage full of mischief, was superb, and Isodale Alexis, as the Bird, continued to surpass herself, blending charm with bravura dancing. Irene Przywara gave us a Duck who earned our sympathy, and Garrett McCann brought menace and doltish villainy to the Wolf. Mauricio Zenteno was athletic and engaging as Peter, and Christine Sawyer was a surprisingly sprightly and convincing Grandmother. The Triplets Alexandria Ina Rose Bocca, Ashley Cook and Victoria Kress danced wonderfully.
But the students of the conservatory may be the best measure of this “Peter and the Wolf.” To draw from these children a commitment that results in polished, proud performances at every level is extraordinary. These youngsters carry themselves, execute steps – engage with us - as artists. You can see that, rather than being intimidated by the big theater and the large audience, they are conscious of the privilege to be carrying on the tradition of dance. What an amazing testament to the vision and leadership of Madame Alexis!
Marguerite-Louise Galopin danced the “Prière Variation from Coppelia” following “Peter and the Wolf” and was feted as the 2017 graduate of the conservatory.
Isodale Alexis dazzled us with her excellent classical technique in the “Nikiya Variation from La Bayadere”.
The students shared with us a joyful “Alizé” choreographed by the multi-talented Franck Muhel. What a rhythmic, hip-swinging, island celebration, and how much fun the youngsters had!
The two works of Madame Alexis that have been constantly unfolding revelations this season closed the program and they continued to surprise and please.
“Bolero” has become a phenomenon. The suppressed excitement of the audience is palpable from the rising of Isodale with her arms spreading, buoyed by the first strains of the melody. As the incessant rhythms and the driven dancers progress, it seems as if all of us are caught up in this hypnotic spell. By the time the repeating, pounding, theme finally resolves, the audience has been brought to a pitch that explodes in whoops of enthusiasm at the display of contained frenzy.
At this point, it feels like nothing else but “Lentil Soup” could follow “Bolero”.
Here we have the array of life – the exuberant, though sometimes wary, interaction of creatures in the wild, the play of nature.
It would seem that Madame Alexis is offering us the antidote to Ravel's potion; a good wholesome nourishing meal.
Like any meal, it is of the moment. Always a bit different from the last, a little more spice here, a new sprinkling there, and that secret ingredient that elicits such curiosity, that has us savoring one meal while anticipating the next - the mystery that is art.
In our world, the word “institution” has become so unattractive, so off-putting. And yet we need cultural institutions – established organizations dedicated to the growth of art and culture. We so need Ballet des Amériques, because it takes us out of the everyday, the mundane, the crass and cruel, to the creative, the reflective, the sensitive and sublime.
Ballet des Amériques breathes life into our community.
So let us keep this institution growing, vigorous and strong.
Frank De Ligio 6/11/17