Choreographer's Showcase

Like most professional arts organizations, the Colorado Ballet presents commercial productions to support its creative need for performing cutting-edge work. Highlighting this year's annual installment of modern dance is Jessica Lang's From Foreign Lands and People, which appears in between two modern classics, Paul Taylor's Company B and Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs.

Photo of the final tableaux in Jessica Lang's
The final tableaux in Jessica Lang's
From Foreign Lands and People
Photo: David Andrews
Set to a variety of Robert Schumann etudes, Lang evokes a full range of emotions, from comedy to lamentation, and a host of contemplative moments with imaginative staging, striking imagery, and dreamy lighting. Manipulating black monoliths of varying sizes that shift from impersonal to personal symbols, the dancers draw us into a world of elegant aesthetics and spiritual triumph. Ritsuko Shinozuka Kubo's live accompaniment is a pleasure unto itself.

From my vantage point, it was difficult to pick out individual performances other than Chauncey Parsons expressive solo and a stunning pas de deux that followed, but the lines were exquisite throughout.

Photo of Koichi Kubo in Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!
Koichi Kubo in
"Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!"
from Company B
Photo: David Andrews
Ruth Andrien's reconstruction of Taylor's homage to the premier vocal group of the wartime era is an absolute delight. Mixing background silhouettes with bright trousers, skirts, shirts, and blouses from the period, the company cuts loose within the liberating forms of swing, polka, and calypso rounded out with modern and classical elements. Selections include "Bei Mir Bist Du Schön," "Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!," "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B)," "Rum and Coca-Cola," and "There Will Never Be Another You."

Of note were Koichi Kubo's exuberant lover boy in "Oh Johnny," Chauncey Parsons' Latin-flavored "Tico Tico," Janelle Cook's romantic, heartfelt "I Can Dream, Can't I?," John Henry Reid's athletic "Company B," Maria Mosina's seductive "Rum and Coca-Cola," and Igor Vassine and Sayaka Karasugi's romantic "There Will Never Be Another You."

Photo of John Henry Reid and Sayaka Karasugi in That's Life
John Henry Reid and Sayaka Karasugi
in "That's Life" from
Nine Sinatra Songs
Photo: David Andrews
The grand era of ballroom dancing is brought to life in Tharp's tip of the fedora to Ol' Blue Eyes. Beneath elusive chards of light flying off the giant rotating mirror ball, Oscar de la Renta designed tuxedos and evening gowns sashay, spin, and glide to that unmistakably smooth bel canto voice crooning the likes of "My Way," "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)," "All the Way," "That's Life," "Strangers in the Night," and more. Moods swing from the romantic, near schmaltzy, silky slides of the waltz to the fiery stileto-laced steps of the tango, with sultry strains of jazz and comic cha-cha in between. It's all about love, loss, late nights, and the long view. Particularly stunning was Sayaka Karasugi and John Henry Reid's daring and hot "That's Life."

As always, one is left admiring the depth of the company.

The Colorado Ballet's Choreographer's Showcase is running in repertory with Cinderella through April 1st. 303-837-8888 x2, or

Bob Bows


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