Colorado Ballet – 1999

May 8, 1999

Andrew Thompson as the Artist and Patricia Renzetti as his Muse in Martin Fredmann’s new ballet Dreamspace.
Photo: Terry Shapiro, Courtesy of Colorado Ballet

Colorado Ballet

Auditorium Theater
Denver, Colorado

May 8-14, 1999

Reviewed by Janine Gastineau

While a ballet company’s technicalability, ensemble dancing, versatility, and expressiveness are often revealed by their grasp of the full-length classical ballet, an evening of mixed repertory is no less a measure of their mettle. Colorado Ballet’s season-closing performances were just such a case.

Nine years ago, CB first danced first the exquisite Balanchine ballet Concerto Barocco; this season’s revival surpassed all their previous standards. The principal women-Maria Mosina, alternating with Olga Volobuyeva and Michelle Dolighan-both partnered by Hesen Weiren along with the excellent corps were diamond-bright and picture-perfect; the third section’s fiendish hops on pointe were tossed off with no visible effort whatsoever. At the end of the first section, the audience released a collective sigh; by the end, you wanted nothing-except that it go on forever.

Next came-huzzah-a new Peter Pucci work, Picture of Sedalia, set to music of Scott Joplin. It showed, in spades, Pucci’s clever way with music and the company’s growing willingness to dance anything.

I love Pucci’s dances for the way they move fluently from funny to serious and back. He’s adept at revealing an unforeseen quality here, casting someone who has been under-utilized there. The style of Sedalia is deceptively carefree-throwaway arms over intricate, rapid-fire footwork, matching, but not overshadowing, the music’s density.

A thread of a plot runs throughout: a boy-meets/gets/loses-girl, danced sweetly by Koichi Kubo and Sharon Wehner. This couple’s partnership, ever-deepening, is one of the most pleasurable reasons to see this company. As with Size Nine Spirit [1996] , choreographed for CB [see Dance Magazine, August 1996, page 68), Pucci makes the most of Kubo’s talents, using his technical prowess while leading him into a fully rounded character. Wehner matches Kubo here beat for beat as the local preacher’s daughter, smitten and eager. Other fine turns in Sedalia include Gregory Gonzales’s laughingly repressive pastor/father and Tiffany Helm’s slinky turn as the local hussy. Christine Joly’s liquidy dresses and men’s vests and slacks and Howell Binkley’s tender lighting evoke Joplin’s turn-of-the-century heyday.

The third act premiered Artistic Director Martin Fredmann’s beautifully crafted Dreamspace, which loosely depicts the life of the Colorado painter Vance Kirkland in. Kirkland’s vivid abstract works are projected across the cyclorama as four dancers portray the Artist at different ages: Dmitri Trubchanov in exuberant youth; Weiren, a self-assured young lover; Meelis Pakri tempted by success as the maturing Artist; and Andrew Thompson in the Artist’s final years when resignation gives way to redemption.

As the Muse, Patricia Renzetti in Greek costume guides the artist throughout, her shining spirit the soul of this ballet.

Special mention must go to company member Sandra Kerr, who was also designer of Dreamspace’s seventy-five costumes and accessories-and she danced in all three acts. What doesn’t she do well?