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Gaines' Gains

Whidbey Island Dance Theatre's Dance & Choreography Showcase 2008

by Dean Speer

April 25, 2008 -- Whidbey Island, Washington

A new ballet by the compositionally gifted Kiyon Gaines made its Whidbey Island (Washington) debut on April 25, 2008 as performed by its commissioning RDA (Regional Dance America) company, Peninsula Dance Theatre, under the direction of Lawan Morrison.

Presented by Whidbey Island Dance Theatre (Artistic Directors Charlene Brown and Susan Campbell Sandri) on its Dance & Choreography Showcase 2008, "Klavis" – set to some of Bach's Goldberg Variations, a piece from “Goyescas” by Enrique Granados, and one by Chopin – was a highlight of the evening.

You could feel the audience relax and immediately sit up and take notice as the recorded piano music began. Gaines used as a motif a mimed object that was caught, chased, and passed among the group of nicely trained PDT dancers.

My only fuss is that we didn’t need the last duet section set to the Chopin. In the previous (and we thought, concluding) section, the object finally exchanged ownership and the piece would have finished nicely and resolutely there. He didn’t need the extra one where the two remaining dancers played with “it.” Gaines needed to take a lesson from Balanchine and finish a group piece with the group in a finale that would give it some kind of “ta-da!” Nevertheless, he gave us a real dance that was fun, energetic, lively, and just perfect for this ensemble, both in terms of where they are in their development and also that pushed and gave them something interesting to tackle.

I’ve been very impressed with Gaines’ work from his very first ballet, made for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Choreographer’s Showcase in 2005. He is definitely one to follow.


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