North Carolina Dance Theatre

September 22, 2005

North Carolina Dance Theatre
Belk Theatre, North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Charlotte, NC

September 22–24, 2005

Reviewed by Sandra Neels


The 35th-anniversary season of North Carolina Dance Theatre opened with “Celebrate the Classics,” which included true classics by Petipa and Balanchine as well as a new work honoring an old tradition by artistic director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and a restaging of Romeo and Juliet by Septime Webre. The results were mixed.

Bonnefoux created his new ballet, Danses Brillantes, in the grand tradition of the Paris Opéra Ballet, with symmetrical patterns and elegant, classical choreography. Set to Edouard Lalo’s rhythmically animated Namouna, the fast-paced ballet featured the lithesome, virtuosic dancing of Alessandra Ball and André Teixeira, supported by four couples. Ball moved with finesse, accompanied by Teixeira’s seamless partnering. Bonnefoux moved the leads rapidly on- and offstage, framing them with the couples, who impressed with high extensions, multiple pirouettes, and soaring jumps.

The most passionate dancing of the evening appeared in the balcony scene from Webre’s Romeo and Juliet. Rebecca Carmazzi, a vision of youthful loveliness and abandon, darted around the stage with uncontainable joy. Her dashing Romeo, Sasha Janes, filled every lift and embrace with adoring desperation. Webre’s choreography didn’t disappoint, with its abundance of the usual risky partnering, off-balance piqués, and endless leaps.

In Balanchine’s Serenade the corps, moving as a true ensemble, provided the best dancing. The leads, Nicolle Rochelle, Carmazzi, Kati Hanlon Mayo, Janes, and Vladimir Lut, could have fared better if they had been more uniform in technique and appearance. (Rochelle stood out more for her heavy bangs and bright-red hair than for her dancing.)

This company, with a repertoire that emphasizes contemporary works, appeared to tread in foreign territory in this program, especially in its somewhat ragged performances of a pas de deux each from Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. The dancers are versatile and individualistic in their look, but in a classical program that demands a more traditional style, their hearts and souls seem to lie elsewhere. Perhaps the real issue is preparation. Companies that perform both classical and contemporary works must be true to both genres. If North Carolina Dance Theatre wants to celebrate the classics, its dancers need the training that allows them to rise to the challenge of that repertoire. See