Made in America Program
Music: Brahms Quintet in G Major
Choreography: Dennis Nahat
Costumes: Willa Kim
Premiered: American Ballet Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, December 10, 1968
Nahat wrote some interesting notes about the circumstances under which this work was choreographed, at the request, of Lucia Chase, for ABT at a time when the American dancers were being upstaged by the influx of Russian talent. It has four pairs of soloists and nine supporting dancers.
I felt I would like the work more if I had the chance to observe the dancers in solid costumes. Willa Kim has a gift for creating flowing and easy costuming for dancers, but her way with daubs of
yellows, greens, rusts and reds on these costumes I found added
nothing to the concentration on the dancers. Normally I rave about her accomplishments. I wanted to see solid colors with perhaps shading tones within the costume or each dancer in a slightly different intensity of a single color.
I also felt that I wanted to see the dancers silhouetted with
greater contrast. What impressed me most was Nahat's courage in
creating a ballet to that transparent but intricate music and
how well served he was in the Adagio by Emi Hariyama's singing
line in arabesque and the slight diffidence in what otherwise is
a very assertive technique. Grethel Domingo and Ramon Moreno
were quite perky in the Presto, and Moreno's spinning top turns
and pirouettes matter-of-factly tossed off were quite a hit.
Rainbow Round My Shoulder
Music: Tradition Chain Gang Songs
Choreography: Donald McKayle
Costumes: Domingo A. Rodriguez
Lighting: Kenneth Keith
Premiered: DonaldMcKayle&Company,YM/YWHA,New York City, May 10, 1959
This is a pre-civil rights era work by McKayle, who is now professor of dance at U.C., Irvine, and justly famous for this
work and Storyville, which will be danced by Ballet San Jose in their 2001-2002 season. I was thrilled to see it listed in the repertoire and it was the prime reason for my taking the train after basking in the marvels of the Paris Opera Ballet. Rainbow Round My Shoulders was named one of America's 100 Irreplaceable Treasures in 2000.
As in the program previously reviewed, Ballet San Jose excells in dances with a story thread or theme, and the dancers do well by
and in such works. The music, well sung, was taped.
McKayle's choreography make the men in the Chain Gang look strong, oppressed, yearning for their women, and upon occasion, anguished. For the most part, the dancing is ensemble, with one section for a solo in addition to the dream encounter with the sweetheart,Mother and Wife. The atmosphere is entirely created by lighting.
Shingo Yoshimoto danced a solo variation with the right pitch of emotional intensity,and a remarkable conviction and understanding of a cultural dilemma so removed from his native Japan. But the quality of his belief and the clarity of his dancing simply added to the amazement. The inference in McKayle's choreography is that the Chain Gang is probably all African-American in background, so
the strength of the performance with a good cross section of Anglos, Asians and Hispanics made the performance that much stronger.
The men dance is buff trousers, stripped to the waist and the woman, in this instance Dalia Rawson who is native to the Santa
Clara Valley area, wears a simple pale yellow dress. Its ripples and flows in the skirt made her torso flexes and rolling hips look more fun, amusement and lively comment rather than vulgar.
When you see Rainbow Round My Shoulder announced on a program,
make it your business to see it. It is definitely a classic piece of dance theater.
Music: ##### Hyman
Choreography: Ian Hovarth
Production Design: David Guthrie
Lighting: Kennethe Keith
PIanist: Steven Harlos
Premiered: Cleveland Ballet, Cleveland, Ohio, October 15, 1982
Ian Hovarth, until his death to AIDS, was co-artistic director with Dennis Nahat of Cleveland Ballet.
This slight work has touches of Jerome Robbins' The Concert, but without the parody. Costumes are black and white, predominantly one color or the other. The piano is upstage center and source
The Three Sections, Concert, The Club and Jammin, are all responses to Steven Harlos' skill at the medley of tunes and phrases from the jazz greats of the first 50 years of the 20th century. There is a fair share of pert little greetings and exchange of partners, looks and maneuvers. Like Dennis Nahat,
Hovarth spent time in American Ballet Theatre, which during that decade, would have familiarized him with the demi-charactere, genre ballet. His treatment of the theme draws upon his exposure to the dance theatre repertoire for which American Ballet Theatre has been so justly famous.
It is a pleasant work, and a suitable change of theme from the
McKayle choreography, but scarcely a work with the energy of Gaiete which closed the previous program in March. The dancers gave it their best shot which is replete with verve and energy.