2014 Choreographer’s Showcase

Choreographed by Ashley Thursby, Jessica Columbus, Phillip Velinov, Marta Kelly, Justin Michael Hogan, Elizabeth Smart, Rob Morrow, Jonathan Paul, Lacey Elliston, Mark Krieger, Eduard Forehand, Sanjay Saverimuttu, Ryan Stokes, Roger Creel, Benjamin Wetzel, Helen Daigle and Brandon Ragland

Review by Brian Walker

Entire contents are copyright ©2014 Brian Walker. All rights reserved.

Louisville Ballet offers a truly unique experience with its Choreographer’s Showcase, giving audiences the opportunity to experience brand new pieces created and performed by members of the company. And these pieces are really new; the entire program came together in the last two weeks. Presented in their studio space, I found the intimacy exhilarating, being so close to the dancers, hearing their feet shuffle along the floor, their breath, the sound that the air makes as they glided through it, seeing their muscles retract with each step, it was exciting from beginning to end and though the show tops out at almost two and a half hours, I didn’t find myself bored for a minute.

The evening featured seventeen pieces that couldn’t have been more different and varied in styles and experience. It was comprised well too, the two acts felt very balanced and the pieces flowed well into each other. The music featured was also wonderful and incredibly diverse featuring things you’d expect like Beethoven and Philip Glass along with the haunting sounds of Clint Mansell and the pure whimsy of Yo Yo Ma paired with Bobby McFerrin.

I enjoyed each piece very much and as far as the technical aspects of the company’s performances, they were all first-rate, polished and, at least to my non-dancing eye, came off without a hitch. Commitment levels were all high, not a single member of the ensemble stuck out as being out of their element, in fact it was quite the opposite, the passion and dedication from everyone was intoxicating.

Many of the pieces had themes of love and longing, like Phillip Velinov’s “On the Edge of Love” which featured three couples dancing to A. Petrov’s “Four Russian Romances.” In this piece particularly; the couple’s passion made me heady with love.

Overall, for me personally, the modern pieces tended to resonate with me more. Highlights would include Lacey Elliston’s “Litost,” which featured controlled movement juxtaposed with chaos to Clint Mansell’s haunting score which was featured in the film “Requiem for a Dream” and Helen Daigle’s simple but evocative “Wishblown,” featuring a powerful song by Bob Schneider and a solo performance by Rob Morrow blowing in the wind of life, it was just beautiful and my favorite piece of the lineup.

They were also able to accomplish some lovely things with very simple lighting.  In several pieces there were two large lights downstage that cast shadows of the dancers onto the black wall upstage and the results were very nice. Also, the use of flashlights as spotlights made for an interesting effect towards the end of Act I.

The only thing I longed for all night was my glass of wine, which was only permitted in the lobby and not in the performance space. This season’s showcase is in a word: exquisite. I would highly recommend any fan of the performing arts to take the opportunity to see these local gems up close and personal.

2014 Choreographer’s Showcase

January 22-25, 2014

Louisville Ballet

Louisville Ballet Studios

315 E. Main Street