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December 09, 1980 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-12-09

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, December 9, 1980

Page 5

Dance Theatre 2's
concise 'Sketches'

A grand debut

for

By ANNA NISSEN
I can't wait until February. On the
27th and. 28th of that month, Ann Ar-
or's Dance Theatre 2 will give its next
studio recital. Their recital this
weekend was superb
"Scribble Sketch" showcased all five
of the company's current members.
Choreographer Denise Tazzioli allowed.
each dancer to bring a personal inter-
pretation to their pieces. The various
dance styles blended well. Tazzioli her-
self was bright and flamelike, with
quick twists of her, head and arms.
Company co-director Christopher Wat-
son was more sedate and regal, while
co-director Kathleen Smith softened the
total picture with curving mellifluous
movements. The spontaneity and or-
dered chaos of Tazzioli's choreography
made "Scribble Sketch" like a Jackson
Pollack painting in motion. Although
the dance floor was small, the dancers
were framed rather than confined by it.
CHRISTOPHER WATSON'S "Spare
Time" was less successful in this
aspect. This duet, which Watson danced
with Laura Winslow, was conceived for
a full-size stage and was first presented
at the Duluth Summer Festival of the
Arts in July. Watson and Winslow tip,
teeter, and recover in perfect unsion,
but I wished the studio ceiling had been
about two feet higher. Watson is not a
small dancer, and is forced to take less
impressive leaps than he would on a full
stage. Winslow, a recent convert to
modern dance, brings unfaltering
balance and full extensions from her
classical ballet background to this
piece.
Kathleen Smith's dance personality
was voiced in "Short Threads,"
choreographed this year for Leslie
Chaskes, Denise Tazzioli, and herself.
Smith favors the reach-fall-recover
pattern of Doris Humphreys and Jose
Limon, but she applies it to a trio
working as one organic unit. The dan-
cers lean back upon each other, push
*up, and revolve into the next symbiotic
arrangement. In the small st dio
"Short Threads" develops likes an
amoeba under a microscope, constan-
tly redefining itself. It is, finally, an ex-
pression of primal joy; set to a collec-

tion of Renaissance and country dan-
ces, and ending with a sprightly pavan-
ne.
THE EXTREME expression of in-
dividual personality in Saturday's per-
formance was Elizabeth Colburn's
monologue-dance, "Solo No. 4: Grand
River," in which guest artist Colburn
recalls her Motown adolescence.
through witty speech and pantomime
movements, we watched her slow dan-
cing at the Cooley High junior prom,
taking Drivers' Ed., and waiting for the
public bus. "Buses in Detroit were
slow," she joked. "Some people are
probably still waiting." After school
hours, she cruised in her boyfriend's
pink Cadillac. "He liked . . . BIG
FINS," Colburn remembered, swaying
her hips.
"All dance is basically
autobiographical," Watson observed,
after the performance, "determined by
our perceptions of the world." Watson's
own solo, "Occasional Shiftings," was
highly expressive, and it is easy to see
where his devotion to DT2 fits in. This
is a dance of reaching and yearning, of
stretching to capacity and then con-
tracting, and then pushing out in a new
direction. Watson covered every
elevation, combining light leaps with
more floor work than he has used in
previous pieces. Watson wanted to
create "a sense of energy growing" and
toexpress the joy of movement through
movement itself, "without necessarily
the musical-comedy smile." He suc-
ceeded in both. "Occasional Shiftings"
is sincere and unpretentious.
Watson's solo reflects the attitude of
DT2 as a whole. In choreographing his
solo he discovered that, paradoxically,
"the most freeing experience of the ar-
tist is to discover his limitations and
become great within them"' Each of
the six artists in DT2 has found a distin-
ct voice within this small, well in-
tegrated group. This is a family of in-
dividually gifted dancers rather than
a depersonalized dance company.
In the coming year DT2 plans several
additional concerts, including one at
the Michigan Theatre 'in April. Don't
miss them. Of all the small dance
groups in Ann Arbor, DT2 is making in-
novations of the highest quality.

By ELLEN RIESER
Saturday night at the Michigan
Theatre, Ann Arbor Ballet Theatre
gave its premiere performance. That
the company, which 'was formed less
than four months ago, was able to per-
form so soon is almost miraculous.
That many of the things the company
did were exciting and new for Ann Ar-
bor is even more surprising.
The first ballet of the evening was
Medieva, choreographed by - Carol
Scharp, the artistic director of the
company, and Kathryn Scharp, one of
the company's soloists. Set to the
Renaissance music of the Munrow Con-
sort, Medieva featured five dancers in
jewel-like velvets and tulles, gravely
performing several short country dan-
ces. Although the dancers wore pointe
shoes, in keeping with the period of the
piece, there was little work done on
pointe. Instead, the choreography em-
phasized the use of the floor so common
to Renaissance and medieval dance.
This was not to suggest that the dan-

cing was heavy, or that it was the sort
of stuff one might see at a local folk
dance club. The steps were fast,
precise, and interconnected-a filigree
of quicksilver, Roberta Elson was par-
ticularly noteworthy for her first solo.
Joanna Mendel appeared to be having
an attack of nerves in the second sec-
tion; however, by the third section, the
company picked up again as Amy Cop-
perman and Alida Schat partnered
each other and engaged in some pretty
mirror dancing. They were very much
together, more so than the soloists of
"big time" ballet companies frequently,
are.
THE COMPANY'S second piece was
Gershwin Pas de Deux, set to Gersh-
win's Prelude No. 2, with choreography
by Carol Scharp (who provided the
choreography for the rest of the
evening's ballets). If ever a ballet could
be said to smoulder, this was it.
Dressed in simple black and white,
Kristine Konz and James Przeslawski
danced through a remarkably difficult

and sexy series of holds and lifts
without ever losing eye contact. The
piece was, if anything, too short.
Leaves, set to Chopin's Etude in A
Flat, was the third ballet of the
evening's program. In terms of what
the dance should be or what it is on
those nights when the gods smile,
Leaves was the high point of the per-
formance. Dressed in a simple sheer
shift, Kathryn Scharp rose from a sit-
ting position on the stage and fluidly
rode an autumn wind. Not only was the
technique there, but, more importantly,
Scharp had a fully commanding stage
presence.
Heliotrope followed after Leaves. Set
to the exotic and vaguely oriental music
of Satie's Gnossiennes, it featured three
couples in three separate movements.
As might be expected, the ballet reflec-
ted the foreign feel of the music. Even
the costumes fit the mood-the women
in hot pink harem pants and skimpy
tops, the men barechested and in the
same baggy sort of pants.
THE STEPS FOR Alida Schat and
Thomas Ward, the first couple, were\
angular and played tricks with stan-
dard ballet conventions. In a for-
midable show of flekibility, Miss Schat
wrapped her legs around her arms and
around her partner. She was slowly
turned upside down, draped over Mr.
Ward's shoulder, and placed in
positions that were unconventional but
oddly graceful. The second and third
movements of Heliotrope continued the
unusual movements and lifts begun
with the first movement. What stood
out in general was the technique and
strength of the men as they lifted their
partners securely but fluidly.
Gypsy, set to Prokofiev's music for
the ballet The Stone Flower
(mistakenly attributed to Satie in the
company's program), was the fifth
piece performed by Ann Arbor Ballet
Theatre. This was an exciting ballet in-
volving hand clapping, foot stomping,
twirling, and the type of pyrotechnical
lifts that are rarely seen in a small
company. Wearing short fiery red skir-
ts and black bodices, five gypsy women
and their men whirled through the
dramatic but little-known Prokofiev
score. Thomas Ward and Roberta
Elson danced the lead couple, and they*
were quite good indeed. They were
coordinated in timing and seemed to
communicate well in their partner
work. Mr. Ward needs to work on get-
ting his feet to point a bit more when he
jumps, and his dancing could have used

2B
more attack; however, these are minor
criticisms in the light of the rest of his
uniformly excellent performance.
THE FINAL BALLET on the
program was The Class, which was set
to assorted short compositions. It was
here, unfortunately, that the magic of
the evening began to dissolve. Every
ballet company has its one ballet class
ballet where steps ordinarily done at
the barre or for center work are woven
into a ballet in order to show an audien-
ce what dancers do when they are not
performing. Some of these ballets are
good-informative and at the same
time creative in the patterns made by
the dancers. The Class had the makings
of a good ballet, but they were
smothered in the many things that
were wrong with it. While the opening
movement, with its diagonal rows of
dancers in practice clothes at two
barres, was effective for the first few
"exercises" as eight pairs of legs and
arms flowed as one, it went on far too
long to sustain interest. Towards the
end of the first movement, the barres
became a hindrance to what could have
been interesting movements if the dan-
cers had done them, at the center or
perhaps had partnered each other.
The second movement, "Au Milieu,"
was performed, as its title implies,
without the barres in center stage.
While there was something profoundly
hypnotic created by the sight of fifteen
women all doing a slow grand plie in
second position, as the movement wore
on, the dancing revealed many rough
edges. The third movement, which con-
sisted of a pas de deux for Amy Cop-
perman and Thomas Ward, had
beautiful choreography and was dan-
ced well-but it didn't belong in The
Class. The dancers appeared to be
having a romantic interlude of their
own separate from the rest of the com-
pany. It was quite lovely, but puzzling
in the context of the rest of the ballet,
which was devoid of emotion. Perhaps
if some sort of story line had been in-
cluded it would have made the entire
ballet more interesting.
For a first performance, Ann Arbor
Ballet Theatre showed much promise.
Many of its dancers have the makings
of strong performers. Moreover, it was
wonderful to see local male dancers
being given a chance to try complicated
and difficult partner work. With its pot-
pourri of choreography and its em-
phasis upon small ensembles and par-
tner work, it is a welcome addition to
the Ann Arbor dance community.

C) Family Fun & Entertainment k
Celebrate
A French Christmas
December 11 7pm Power Center
PTP Ticket Office - Michigan League M F, 10- 1 & 2 5
Phone (313) 764-0450
i' ,+ v A + ,t

Kathryn Sharpe appears in "Medieva," one of the choreographic works presented
this weekend in the debut performance by the Ann Arbor Ballet Theatre, A2's latest
addition to its dance community.

"Sheer vocal elegance", Music Week London.
"A clean, mellou style and a great feeling of togetherness,"
SEvening Express, Aberdeen, Scotland.
"Cooly urbane virtuosity, "Chicago Tribune.
neuwSuwingIeSing9ert
A Christmas program
Traditional carols
Irving Berlin's "White Christmas"
Songs by Jerome Kern and Cole Porter
Music of Scarlatti, Debussy, Rimsky-Korsakov
The New Swingle Singers' style of singing music by
Johann Sebastian Bach
Mozarts "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik"
Fidoy, D e412't,8:00

r.

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