Friday, May 17, 2013

Coppelia and other dances by Festival Ballet Albuquerque

Classical ballet was my truest love for many years, so seeing Festival Ballet Albuquerque's performance of "Coppelia" was a joy to my classicist heart. However, like so many dancers today, FBA dancers also showed their contemporary and even modern roots in other works on their most recent program, "Coppelia, Creation of the World, and other dances," performed May 10 & 11 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Photo credit Pat Berrett

"Hungarian Rhapsody" started the evening, a light and playful duet with Louie Rocatto, and his partner Ludmila Malohkov, whose pointe work was strong enough to sustain the suspension required to convey the joyful airiness of the choreography, created by Patricia Dickinson Wells, FBA artistic director, Dominic Guerra, and Ludmila Malhokov.
Photo credit Pat Berrett

"Contineo" was an entirely different pas de deux, a contemporary ballet piece costumed in black that was slow and heartfelt, both choreographed and danced by Jennifer Boren and Dominic Guerra. With the focus on lifts, and weight suspension, the partners pushed past traditional ballet lines to find slightly different partnered shapes for this piece.

Photo credit Pat Berrett
"Creation of the World" finished the first act, a longer piece with scenes that unfolded, including the abstract characters "Human Origins," danced by Natalee Maxwell and Trey Pickett (far left). Younger members of the junior company had the chance to perform as well, playing the "First Creatures" as well as the "Little Beginnings," while company professionals expanded the creationism theme, as the four primary couples who develop in the moment. The music's shifts in tempo and mood allowed the story of transformation to be told in a way that was dynamic and changing.

Photo credit Pat Berrett
"Coppelia" comprised the entirety of the second half, presented as a one-act suite of dances which allows the story ballet to be told without interruption. What remains charming in this story is as true to modern audiences as when it was created in 1870, that being the capriciousness of mankind. While maintaining the most classical form of ballet tradition in choreography, the silliness of Dominic Guerra's Franz swooning over the doll Coppelia, as well as the jealousy and mischief in Lora Sturm's Swanhilda, all came through. Not only do the leads get to have their comedic moments in Coppelia, but many more characters throughout the show, including the toymaker Dr. Coppelius, danced by Louie Giannini, Jr., and Swanhilda's girlfriends who join her in breaking into the toymaker's shop. Especially magical was the moment when all of the toys suddenly came to life, bringing another smile to the faces in the audience.

For more information about Festival Ballet Albuquerque and their upcoming classes and workshops, visit

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