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 Post subject: Diablo Ballet's First Full-Length Work. March 21-22, 2008
PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:51 am 
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Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Breaking Into New Territory: Diablo Ballet’s First Full-Length Work

By Catherine Pawlick

“Can you shift the girls more to the side, rather than lifting them? Yes, that’s nice.” Nikolai Kabaniaev, co-artistic director of Diablo Ballet is hard at work in a Walnut Creek ballet studio, creating his first full-length ballet, “Once Upon A Ballroom.” Aided by their strong partners, three women in slim legwarmers and leotards float briefly in the air, before touching ground and continuing the dance, a sweeping, dramatic interlude set to the waltz from Khatchaturian’s “Masquerade.”

“And after the temps de flêche, there’s a swivel in there,” he reminds the small group of seven polished dancers who precede six apprentices onstage. They go over the step once again, this time in perfect unison. “Good,” Nikolai says. Goal achieved.

Diablo Ballet, founded by Lauren Jonas in 1994 and located across the bay from San Francisco, has been cultivating its own niche in the Bay Area ballet world for more than a decade now. “It’s amazing that a smaller company like ours can produce a full-length ballet,” Kabaniaev explains during a rehearsal break. “My goal with this ballet is to expand our audience and give them entertainment that they will really enjoy.”

Last year the company’s “Magic Toy Store” performed to a sold-out house, a milestone for the small troupe. Based on audience demand, Diablo Ballet will perform it again this year, but Kabaniaev is determined to venture into newer territory.

“This ballet has something for everyone,” Nikolai comments. “’Once Upon A Ballroom’ is all about beauty: beautiful costumes, scenery, choreography, and dancing. At the end of the evening, I want the audience to say, ‘Wow, this is the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen.’ I want them to discover something that they didn’t know existed before, I want them to fall in love with ballet.”

In that, Kabaniaev’s piece succeeds. A peek at the nearly complete Act One shows a ballet based on a young woman’s fantasy of dancing at the ball. The clever introduction includes two men with retractable tape measures creating a ball gown for Dalila, danced by Tina Kay Bondstedt, Diablo’s longtime reigning ballerina who is known for her impossibly mesmerizing legs.

The modern soundtrack soon shifts into the overture to “La Traviata” before shifting back to the sounds and sights of a cocktail party, replete with clinking champagne glasses onstage. Subtle jealousies and drunken stupors appear briefly, sprinkling the plot with humor in what is otherwise the aura of a grand ballroom.

Kabaniaev, a Russian émigré who danced with the Kirov Ballet before leaving Russia, has a choreographic range that is greater –and far less classical-- than you’d expect. “Ballroom” shows a complex interplay of multi-layered steps, where sweeping lifts trade off with brief elements of jazz and even hip-hop. Kabaniaev has chosen selections from “Spartacus”, as well as music by Gluck, Wagner, Bellini, and even Maria Callas performing “Samson and Delilah” to further root the piece musically. Alongside other Russian choreographers such as Alexei Ratmansky, whose works were recently performed by the State Ballet of Georgia, and Yuri Possokhov, longtime resident choreographer at San Francisco Ballet, Kabaniaev’s talents also reach into that same sphere of international recognition. For the last 14 years Diablo’s unique repertoire has focused on innovative ballets.

Inside the hot Bay Area dance scene, where leading international ballet companies perform year-round, Diablo’s challenge is clear. “With shows like this I’d like to take Diablo Ballet to the next level,” the choreographer-director explains. “I’d like every performance to be an event that the audience will remember and come back to see again and again.”

Although the final touches to “Ballroom” will be made in the coming weeks, the proof of entertainment value is already visible in Diablo’s newest work. It will be one Bay Area performance not to miss.


Diablo Ballet
March 21-22
Dean Lesher Center for the Arts
1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek
(925) 943-SHOW
www.lesherartscenter.org


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 1:42 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 8612
Location: El Granada, CA, USA
An article on one of the dancer from the Contra Costa Times.

Quote:
Walnut Creek dancer has a homecoming in troupe's brand-new work
By Jennifer Modenessi

Nikolai Kabaniaev has his eyes fixed firmly on his dancers. The co-artistic director and choreographer of Diablo Ballet is watching as Tina Kay Bohnstedt, Eddie Stegge and Derek Sakakura take a practice run through the complex and comedic pas de trois that opens the company's first full-length production, "Once Upon a Ballroom."

"We have very high-quality dancers," the poised Kabaniaev murmurs proudly, nodding affectionately towards the group.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:32 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Oops. I don't think this is the company's first full-length ballet. N Kabaniaev has created "Magic Toy Store," "Cinderella," and several other full-lengths prior to this one.

Lisa, perhaps we should edit the title?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:53 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
Hmm. I stand corrected. The company is billing this as their first full-length. I guess the other ballets are story ballets but not "full-length."


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 3:55 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 8612
Location: El Granada, CA, USA
From the SF chronicle.

Quote:
Review: Diablo Ballet's dance mix 'Ballroom'
Rachel Howard, Chronicle Dance Correspondent

Monday, March 24, 2008

Until a year ago, Walnut Creek's Diablo Ballet relied on heavy donations from a single sponsor. Now, as the chamber troupe moves bravely and steadily toward firmer financial footing, Artistic Director Lauren Jonas is making the most of her next best bankable asset: Nikolai Kabaniaev.

Diablo Ballet's press spin would have you believe that co-Artistic Director Kabaniaev's "Once Upon a Ballroom" - premiered over the weekend at the Dean Lesher Center for the Arts - is a major new step for the company, its first "full length" ballet. In fact, it's more of the same.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 4:11 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2006 2:28 am
Posts: 5
Location: KC, MO
Quote:
A young woman, the impossibly chiseled Tina Kay Bohnstedt, dreams of going to a ball while being fitted for a gown.


I'm missing something here. Why is she being fitted for a gown first then the dream begins? I know, I know, it is theater, but still................


Quote:
When Bohnstedt reappears, she's redressed as Delilah from Saint-Saëns "Samson and Delilah," and Fonnegra, following some logic of opera dream matches that eludes me, becomes Cavaradossi from Puccini's "Tosca." His jealous fiancee becomes a Wagnerian Valkyrie seeking revenge in this weird fantasia.


Wasn't she dreaming of going to a ball? How did she end up in Samson and Delilah?

I love the music used here. I just don't quite understand the pretense.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:52 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
LOL, CMaclaine! Well, I would have left with lots of questions too given the turns this ballet took but frankly about 20 minutes into it, I got a little tired and stopped thinking too much about it... But that said, I see SO much ballet that it takes a really good one to get my attention these days.

This was a nice little light-hearted break for the company from its more artistically creative programming. The local supporters of the company and the fans of the choreographer seemed to have enjoyed it!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:17 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 8612
Location: El Granada, CA, USA
From the Contra Costa Times.

Quote:
Diablo Ballet's fantasy 'Once Upon a Ballroom' packs the stage with energy
By Ann Murphy
Correspondent
Article Launched: 03/25/2008 09:18:39 AM PDT
If keeping a large, well-endowed dance company dancing year in and year out is a feat worthy of a business titan, then trying to hold together a small, regional ballet company for 15 years is the province of fools and dreamers. To pull it off takes relentless drive and optimism, something co-founder, artistic director and former dancer Lauren Jonas clearly has, and also a spirit that just won't say "die." That's a word Walnut Creek's Diablo Ballet refuses to utter, despite plenty of artistic, financial and critical ups and downs during its lifetime.

One can only admire the company's fortitude as well as its chutzpah.


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