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The Washington Ballet

7x7: Love

by Carol Herron

May 2, 2004 -- The England Studio, Washington, D.C.

The setting for this septet of dances exploring the theme of love was the Washington Ballet's England Studio, a rehearsal studio made over into a 'cabaret' by the interior design team of Adamstein & Demetriou, with white drapes and lanterns and little cafe tables. The maximum number of seats could not have been more than 70 for each show. An intimate setting, where the audience sees the sweat, hears the breathing and feels the floor vibrate.

The first dance, "Memory of a Free Festival" was choreographed by Trey McIntyre and danced by his fellow North Carolina School of the Arts alumni, Jason Hartley and John Michael Schert (guest artist from Alonzo King's Lines Ballet), and Michele Jimenez and Erin Mahoney. The music of the same name was by David Bowie, a very hippie-like song. Both pairs of dancers: John Michael Schert and Michele Jimenez, and Jason Hartley and Erin Mahoney were very well matched, their styles and dancing complemented beautifully. John Michael Schert is an elegant dancer and an excellent partner for the gorgeous Michele Jimenez. An overall pleasant dance which, in some of us of the 'right age', evoked some fond memories.

"Desire" choreographed by Stephen Mills, to music by Arvo Part and danced by Elizabeth Gaither and Chip Coleman was a dreamy duet with lovely moments of interaction between the two dancers. But the piece lacked an overall cohesiveness, it seemed more a series of poses, some of them extraordinarily beautiful, than an actual dance.

The last piece of the first Act was "L'Apres Midi" and "La Nuit" choreographed by Donald Byrd.
"L'Apres Midi" was set to music by Tin Hat Trio -- what wonderful dance music with a driving and thoroughly enjoyable beat. Again, Jason Hartley was partnered with Erin Mahoney, and again they proved to make a fabulous duet. The costumes were red and black and against the white drapes of the set they added a dramatic flair. Jason Hartley was dancing as he does best with some of the most acrobatic moves I have seen. I'm still in awe of the one-handed crouching backspring.
"La Nuit" was set to music by Go Ten Project, again wonderful dance music. Here Jason Hartley danced with three women, Laura Urgelles, Sona Kharatian and Nikkia Parish.

After a brief intermission the program continued with "Sostenuto" choreographed by Lila York to music by Rachmaninoff. This piece had the largest group of dancers, six couples and the lone Michele Jimenez. Jiminez's beautiful technique was showcased well. The couples danced in a wavelike pattern that was intriguing and well done in the small space, with Jimenez weaving in and out amongst them.

"Underneath" was choreographed and danced by Jason Hartley to music by John Lennon. It started with Hartley making almost angry, violent moves in silence. When the music started and Hartley's wife came out to sit on a stool. The dancing changed and became softer and more romantic. A choreography complemented the music and lyrics exceptionally well.

Albert Evans' "Seego" to music by Matthew Fuerst allowed Brianne Bland and Runqiao Du to exhibit some very different styles of dancing and allowed us to see another side of them both. The choreography was also complementary to the music, and Brianne Bland in a small black skirt looked small, delicate and yet extremely dynamic. Definitely one of the highlights of the show.

But the final piece was the most fun. "tink tank" was choreographed by Vladimir Angelov, to music by Johann Sebastian Bach Concerto No. 5 for Piano & Orchestra in F Minor, costumes, shiny, sparkly tank tops, were by Sabado Lam.

Erin Mahoney got to dance her part like a girl in a candy store, with all these gorgeous men to choose from, and she danced it to the hilt. She expressed enjoyment, freedom and pure joy that was delightful to see. Jared Nelson was the inhibited, adoring lover and Luis Torres was the outrageous exhibitionist, and they too both danced their parts extremely well. Each time I see Luis Torres I am more and more impressed, he always looks like he is enjoying himself, throwing himself wholeheartedly into a role, he has an impressive physique that he uses well, good technique and his acting talents look like they could be phenomenal. When he stripped off his tank top (the first to do so) he was obviously having so much fun that the audience had to laugh out loud. The rest of the men, Chip Coleman, Aaron Jackson, Chris Louk and Alvaro Palau soon removed their tank tops too, followed by Erin Mahoney (yes, she did have something on underneath!). Poor Jared Nelson was beside himself, all these gorgeous men distracting his ladylove, but at the very end off came his tank top, although he had to turn his back to the audience to do it! What a delightful and fun dance.

Edited by Jeff.

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