Entries in Swan Lake (1)



Contemporary ballet enthralled the audience on Saturday evening. While some dance patrons prefer only the full length, traditional ballet, they miss the experience of applauding new works from around the world. The Milwaukee Ballet under Michael Pink’s artistic direction presented three exceptional choreographers that had the dancer’s exchanging toe shoes for ballet slippers during several selections, where both were used to great effect in the Spring Series.

Choreographer Matthew Neenan form BalletX brought The Last Glass to Milwaukee from Philadelphia. Music by Beirut, a six member contemporary musical ensemble, accompanied ten dancers in a rowdy city scene to reinterpret West Coast America, modern Paris, or a city carnival at night’s end.

In refreshing shades of blues, lavenders, and whites, the dancers' costumes embodied spring itself. The ballerinas’ soft, fluid tutus floated during the lifts and pirouettes, except for one dancer dressed in a lace camisole and pantaloons for romantic contrast. She alone waited and sought a partner throughout the composition, an interesting, evocative narrative inhabiting this enchanting piece. 

During the first intermission, the curtains remained opened to reveal feathers cascading on the stage floor, a prelude to the dance. The acclaimed work titled Extremely Close by resident choreographer and dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Alejandro Cerrudo found its inspiration in the music of Philip Glass and Dustin O’Halloran.

Four couples dressed in black leotards contrasted the feathery white down and movable fabric panels pushed over the stage by the dancers during the performance. Often times Jason Fassl’s lighting designs softened the dancer’s silhouettes, their shadows reflected on the white screens. The sophisticated selection produced a contemplative mood, especially when the last dancer lying on the stage was swept with the feathers off the floor by a swathe of black cloth in the finale. 

To finish the evening, Lila York’s Celts discovered a lighthearted grace in the fast paced and lithesome footwork, both on pointe and in slippers for the Milwaukee Ballet corps. Sometimes 27 dancers appeared in highly coordinated patterns on the stage, often further translated into a classical dance repertoire. Traditional Irish music complemented costumes colored in hues that evoked wood nymphs and worn by the corps who performed flawlessly with several striking pas de deuxs during the performance.

The Celts' vibrant melodies made the audience’s toes tap quietly and presented a complex and entusiastic finish to the performance in honor of Milwaukee’s early spring. Come May, the city can look forward to a reprise of Peter Pan and a journey to Neverland. The full-length ballet returns to the Uihlein Hall stage by popular demand on March 10-13 and tickets are selling quickly.

In the year ahead, the 2012-2013 season excites the ballet fan with an original production of La Bohème and Swan Lake. In between these two productions, the Genesis competition and Spring Series, along with the holiday season’s The Nutcracker, will provide another year where ballet soars to new heights in Milwaukee. Be sure to purchase tickets for the company's entertaining flight. 

For more information on The Milwaukee Ballet’s Peter Pan coming in May, or a subscription for the 2012-2013 season, call 414,902.2103 or click the link to the left.            by Peggy Sue Dunigan.