IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: City Ballet off to stunning start

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

Is it possible to raise a bar too high?

That’s the question I was left with after the stunning “An Evening with the Stars” benefit for the would-be Indianapolis City Ballet on Sept. 12.

Without a corps of its own to take the stage, the ICB powers that be rounded up some of the top young dancers in the world, staging a can-you-top-this evening at the Murat Theatre that was rarely short of magnificent.

The program was, by turns (and sometimes simultaneously), gorgeous and funny and thrilling and jaw-dropping. It was moving. It was charming. And I can’t recall another time when I felt compelled to give a standing ovation mid-performance.

It’s probably a good thing that a significant amount of fund raising and organizational time must pass before Indianapolis City Ballet tries its own production. Following this would be impossible.

The evening started with a local tie—David Hochoy of Dance Kaleidoscope worked with dancers from the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre on an adaptation of his “Fascinatin’ Rhythm.” An unfortunate hiss in the sound system did diminish but didn’t destroy its introspective elegance. The leaps were lovely, the dancer-as-furniture moves stopped just short of being silly, and it seemed that everyone from the potential funders in the orchestra section to the student in the balcony was hooked.

At the Indianapolis City Ballet gala, David Hochoy choreographed New York City dancers. (Photo Courtesy Indianapolis City Ballet)
 

That hook went far deeper when Kirov Ballet dancers Anastasia and Denis Matvienko took a more traditional route with a pas de deux from “Diana & Acteon.” The thunderous applause barely died down before Stuttgart Ballet’s Alicia Amatriain and Jason Reilly showed us ballet’s possible future with “Mono Lisa” featuring ultra-precise, primal, extreme movements—and attitude to burn.

 

A Stuttgart Ballet duo was stunning. (Photo Courtesy Indianapolis City Ballet)

While on my feet, a sadness hit. Great art makes me generous, and I couldn’t help but think of the many people I know who would have loved being elevated and shaken by this combo of creativity plus excellence but who weren’t among the 1,850 other people at the Murat.

I also began to wonder what foolish programmer would put the best stuff right up front.

The fallacy of that thought was soon revealed. Excellence wasn’t a highlight of this program, it was an average.

Gennadi Saveliev from the ABT offered spirited spins on the traditional “Gopak.” Julie Kent and David Hallberg not only danced stunningly in the balcony pas de duex from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” but also gave acting performances that would shame most seasoned Shakespearian actors. Then, after intermission, Amatriain and Reilly returned for a truly hilarious “Le Grand Pas De Deux” set to Rossini’s music. When it comes to dance, “funny” usually means merely “amusing.” But the bespectacled ballerina and her earnest partner earned hearty, joyful belly laughs. Kudos, too, to choreographer Christian Spuck.

And there was more. ABT’s Sarah Lane and Gennadi Saveliev made one-handed lifts look simple and elegant in a piece from “Le Corsaire.” The Matveinkos threw themselves into a hyperkinetic “Radio & Juliet” (set to the music of Radiohead) and the Kent/Hallberg duo created more stage drama with a piece from “Manon.”

And then came Miquel Quinones.

I had heard about “Caught,” a signature work of Parsons Dance Co. But reading about it or watching a YouTube clip is nothing like experiencing it live.

It started with the dancer in circles of light. His movements indicated that he was preparing for something.

The lights strobed, catching him in a series of poses.

And then he flew.

Captured in the light at the apex of every leap, Quinones moved through the air, gracefully, impossibly. The piece carried with it the thrill of breaking boundaries and the ache of what we can’t do. I cannot praise it—or the performance—highly enough. It was transcendent. And the Murat shook with applause.

How do you follow that? The programmers tried with George Balanchine’s “Stars & Stripes.” But somehow mere excellence didn’t seem enough. The bar was too high.

Overall, a message was sent and it’s an exciting one: The goal of ICB, if/when it arrives, isn’t to create good-enough ballet. The goal is greatness.

As a presenter, that goal was achieved on the 12th.

It’s one thing, though, to present the best in the world, it’s another to create it.

But far more than I was a few weeks ago, I’m now anxious to see what our new ballet company can do when it’s ready to face the music and dance for itself.•

__________

Visit ibj.com/arts for additional reviews, previews and arts discussion. Twitter: IBJarts

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Wow. If Lou raves about something like this, then I'm betting it was indeed a home run. It sounds like it had so much of what is so often lacking in dance: Life, in its full range. Wish I could have been there.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.

ADVERTISEMENT