Pavilion Audience Thrice Blessed By Houston Ballet

Artists of the Houston Ballet in "One / end / One" Photographer Amitava Sarkar

—August 14, 2011  Houston Community Newspapers (HCN) The Courier                              Last weekend got underway with sleek and splendid elegance in shades of black and
gold as the Houston Ballet took to the stage of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Friday night to present an evening of impressive “ContemporaryMasters.” The program opened with One / end / One, featuring the choreography of Jorma Elo set to the music of Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No. 4 in D, K. 218.” There was immediate and whirling magic and athleticism from eight of the company’s fine dancers. It could have been an Olympic gymnastic event as the prancing freedom of the cast displayed mirror images, assorted angularities, marionette-like robotic movements, and polished  synchronization. The choreography was full of playful experimentation with creative dance
possibilities. While the solid black background seemed a bit too severe (in view of the attractive Holly Hynes costume designs that were primarily black as well), the exquisite pas de deux of Karina Gonzalez and Connor Walsh was full of romance as their enchanting performance gave new meaning to the word intertwined. Mr. Walsh displayed great strength in the numerous lifts required, and when the work finally called for him to lie down gracefully on the stage, it had to be a well-earned rest. The lovely dance concluded with Miss Gonzalez gently receding from the stage with the same delicacy with which she had entered.

The second offering of the evening was the stunning, Falling Angels, choreographed by Jiří Kylián to the rhythmic and pulsing drums from composer,
Steve Reich. Dressed in simple black leotards, the eight female dancers appeared upstage and moved forward in a slow-motion effect that had the look of a dream-like Rockette line. Described as depicting “…the female dancers’ aim to achieve perfection and their experiences of ambition, seduction, pregnancy, birth, death, motherhood, and self-awareness,” the work evolved into a dramatic, drum-accompanied frenzy of what almost seemed to be a tribal ritual. While the previously mentioned black background was still in place, it worked much better here because of the dramatic lighting effects from designer, Joop Caboort, which cast a golden glow on the exposed skin of gyrating dancers who
displayed mind-boggling synchronization in such a rapid-fire and complex piece. With the thrilling rhythms of the drums, the effect was both mystical and hypnotic.

Danielle Rowe & Simon Ball in "Rush" Photographer: Amitava Sarkar

After the considerable blackness of what preceded it, the third selection, Rush, had its large cast arrayed in a rainbow of warmer colors for costumes from Jon Morrell. Smoothly choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon to the music of Bohuslav Martinu’s Sinfonietta la Jolla, this ballet brought forth an explosion of vibrant and whirling grace from the brilliant dance pairs performing it. Brilliant as well was the superb pas de deux from Danielle Rowe and Simon Ball. Rowe’s statuesque grace, dramatic extensions, and purity of movement, combined with his powerful embrace to create a world of romance that seemed, at times, to float in mid-air. Rowe’s gentle departure from the scene was like that of some exquisitely delicate bird, and was followed closely by the visual splendor of the full company finale.

DANIELLE ROWE Photo: James Ridgeway Jr.

But that was not all. Following the curtain call ovations the company’s Artistic Director,  Stanton Welch, stepped out on the stage to present Miss Rowe with a huge bouquet and the surprise announcement that she was being promoted to Principal Dancer, a huge honor and a defining moment in the career of this very talented ballerina. The warm audience applause echoed its approval.

The Pavilion’s next classical event, featuring “all things Italian,” will be the Houston Symphony’s “Poperazzi” concert at 8 pm on Thursday, September 1st. Mezzanine and lawn seating will be free courtesy of Woodforest National Bank and KPMG. Orchestra seating will be $15. For tickets contact TICKETMASTER at 800-745-3000 or visit the website at .

About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), The International Theatre Critics Association, and America's oldest theatrical club, The Lambs, he also had long service as the editor of The Lambs' Script magazine. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at
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