writers on dancing

The DanceView Times, Washington, D.C. edition

Regional Isn't Always Provincial

Freedom to Dance
Regional Dance America's Northeast Festival
Zellerbach Theatre
Annenberg Performing Arts Center
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Saturday, June 5, 2004

by George Jackson
copyright 2004 by George Jackson
published June 8, 2004

This third and final evening of the festival was its gala performance. Of the six pieces on the program, I'd recommend two to anyone who attends dance regularly.

Ashland Regional Ballet's Barn Dance was just plain fun. Being polished classicists wasn't the point the dancers on stage were trying to make. This piece was about verve, vigor and being sociable. The cast of 10 (a mix of advanced students and young teachers) bounced in country style to old-type country music, adding a ballet step here and there—wherever one fit in. That the girls wore toe shoes seemed like just another teen fashion. Hellie Schussler was the choreographer. She knew how to use her dancers as individuals and wisely avoided looking too much like Agnes de Mille.

Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet's performance of Balanchine's Who Cares? (Gershwin/Kay) might well be the envy of some adult professional troupes. These youngsters (boys and girls) had style and sophistication. Robbie-Jean Arbaczewski, age 13, showed remarkable clarity and courtesy in the Marnee Morris role. Anna Gerberich (as Patricia McBride), Leta Biasucci (as Karin von Aroldingen), Ian Hussey (as Jacques D'Amboise) and the spiffy corps dancers gave evidence of good training and experiencing the joy of dancing. Former members of Balanchine's New York City Ballet, Darla Hoover and Peter Frame had staged the choreography. Costumes were by Marcia Dale Weary (CPYB's director) and Freda Bromberg.

Allegheny Ballet's Wanderer Fantasie (Schubert) featured some decently trained young women, but Paul Gibson's choreography lacked phantasy. The other three dances—Gina Gardner-Walther's I Closed My Eyes for the Vineland Regional Dance Company, Kirsten Kaschok's The House That Jane Built for the Cumberland Dance Company and Mary Giannone's Concerto in Dm for the Canton Ballet—showed the dancers' and choreographers' limits.

Originally published:
Volume 2, Number 21
June 9, 2004

© 2004 George Jackson




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last updated on June 9, 2004