Tour de Force

Artists of the Colorado Ballet in Feast of the Gods
Artists of the Colorado Ballet in Feast of the Gods
Photo: David Andrews
One of the key elements in the Colorado Ballet's world-class stature is its broad repertoire, as we saw in this past weekend's stellar productions of three contemporary works.

Choreography by Edwaard Liang
Music by Ottorino Respighi
Costumes Designed and Created at Colorado Ballet
Lighting Design by Lloyd Sobel

Chandra Kuytkendal and Christopher Moulton
Asuka Sasaki and Francisco Estevez
Morgan Buchanan and Nicolas Pelietier
Fernanda Oliveira and Joshua Allenback
Sarah Tryon and sean Omandan
Leah McFadden and Bryce Lee

The story depicts a group of gypsies who, after travelling all day, set up camp for the night and celebrate with a feast, while below the surface lies a beautiful exploration of feminine-masculine dynamics, much along the lines of Carl Jung's precepts on the integration of anima and animus within the individual psyche; in this case, it is female energy that is eminent at the end.

Liang sets his ballet to Respighi's three suites of "Ancient Airs and Dances"—which includes elements of the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods—discovering a multi-faceted language that flows through synchronous and asynchronous expressions by the 12 dancers as a group, as couples, and as individuals, from willowy waves to wraps, kicks, lifts, and leaps, capturing a range of celebratory, dramatic, emphatic, and poignant moments, accented by skirts and pants, as well as the sublime lighting, as the gypsies embrace nature and its bounty. The final image of the lead couple still burns in our mind's eye.

Artists of the Colorado Ballet in Cluedo
Artists of the Colorado Ballet in Cluedo
Photo: David Andrews

Choreography by Julia Adam
Costumes by Christine Darch
Lighting Design by Lloyd Sobel
Music by Cosmo Sheldrake:
"Wriggle," "Birth A Basket," "Come Along," and "Hocking"

Mr. Boddy – Christophor Moulton
Mrs. Boddy – Tracy Jones
Miss Scarlet – Leah McFadden
Mrs. Peacock – Fernanda Oliveira
Miss White – Francesca Martoccio
Professor Plum – Bryce Lee
Mr. Green – Jeremy Studinski
Colonel Mustard – Joshua Allenback

Add this world premiere, commissioned by the Colorado Ballet, to Julia Adam's long and growing list of remarkable and critically acclaimed works. As the title and character names suggest, the storyline is derived from the popular board game, Clue.

Adam describes herself as an actress who dances, thus infusing character development in her choreography, as we see in this delightful whodunnit set in the Roaring Twenties, with elegant costuming, a few glitz and glam set pieces, and the tongue-in-cheek snobbery and sauciness of the dancers, led by Tracy Jones' star-powered embodiment of the femme fatale and vixen, Mrs. Boddy. What fun for the ensemble!

Much like the behind-the-scene intrigue of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, the players here are on the make. What seems an innocent cocktail party turns into a detective story when Mr. Boddy (Christophor Moulton) keels over and expires. Cosmo Sheldrake's quirky musical atmospherics provide the perfect arhythmic intervals for a deconstruction of the murder, the suspects, and the killer.

Artists of the Colorado Ballet in Celts
Artists of the Colorado Ballet in Celts
Photo: David Andrews

Choreography by Lila York
Music: Traditional Irish Music
Costume Design by Tunji Dada
Lighting Design by James F. Ingalls
World Premiere by the Boston Ballet in 1996

Cast Green Man: Sean Omandam
Red Couple: Asuka Sasaki and Francisco Estevez
Brown Couple: Chandra Kuykendall and Christophor Moulton
Red Man: Francisco Estevez
Ensemble: Sarah Tryon, Liam Hogan, Sara Thomas, Alejandro Perez-Torres Fernanda Oliveira, Joshua Allenback, Mackkenzie Dessens, Jeremy Studinski, Arianna Ciccarelli, Alexander Roy, Simon Zinabu-Costello, Tyler Rhoads, Francesca Martoccio, Leah McFadden, Nicholas Pelletier, Bryce Lee, Benjamin Winegar, Robbie Downey, Sarah Tryon, Ariel McCarty, Melissa Zoebisch, Alexandra Wilson, Gabriela Rodriguez, Catherine Aoki, Liam Hogan, Gabriele Lukasik

Beginning with traditional Irish step-dancing and line dances, former heralded dancer for the Paul Taylor Dance Company and renowned choreographer Lila York explores the genre's primitive roots, riffs on its modern extrapolations, and returns to a celebration of its traditional melodies. Sean Omandam's whirlwind solos are breathtaking and the entire ensemble exudes the joy and enthusiasm of the form. Nice to see Celts, last performed by the company in 2007, come around again, bringing a classical lens to this beloved folk genre.

The Colorado Ballet's presentation of Tour de Force ran March 5–8 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

If you missed the performances this weekend, the company returns to the boards next month, to wind up its season with Ballet Masterworks. For tickets:

Bob Bows

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