By Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel Entertainment Critic
1:51 AM EST, February 16, 2013
Maybe those snooty film critics who pooh-pooh the cineplex's blockbusters in favor of the little indie movie are on to something.
For in Orlando Ballet's "Hollywood en Pointe," which opened Friday at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, it's the unfamiliar that generates the most heat.
"Hollywood en Pointe" boasts familiar music from big movies: a hip-swiveling "Cabaret," a stylish James Bond number, an athletic crowd pleaser to the "Mission: Impossible" theme. But the most intense moments are found in less bombastic numbers.
Maybe the spirit of Valentine's Day is lingering like a lover's perfume, but the show's duets are especially resonant.
A Reum Chung and David Kiyak epitomize romance in "Somewhere in Time," lushly choreographed by the ballet's artistic director Robert Hill. Her arm curves delicately, his movements are long and stately.
Hill's choreography for "Cinema Paradiso" lets Chiaki Yasukawa and Telmo Moreira put a youthful spring in their classical steps. Sebastian Serra and Andrea Harvey have palpable heat and a lovely lilting energy in a touching pas de deux using music from "Romeo and Juliet."
And Daniel Benavides and Janelle de Ment (subbing for an injured Anita Boer) bring long-lined classic elegance to their pairing on music from the French film "Jean de Florette." Not all the couples were quite so serious: Douglas Horne and Anamarie McGinn charm in a "Singing in the Rain" number.
Arcadian Broad doesn't need a partner to dazzle. In "Time," a solo piece he also choreographed, Broad seems to fill the stage with turns and leaps. He has that can't-be-taught ability to command attention — even when it's just him and a spotlight.
Broad also choreographed "Psychological Recovery," one of two pieces in the show that feel like a visit to the foreign-film art house. The other is choreographer Peter Chu's "Touching Drops," and having two longform pieces such as this on the same program is, perhaps, one trip to the art house too many.
Broad's piece features an existential story line taking place inside a man's head, a "Twilight Zone"-like narration attributed to Sherlock Holmes, and mask-wearing dancing presumably representing doubt or fear. It's all a bit much, though the choreography shows good use of tempo and mood.
Chu's piece, full of sharp movements contrasted with an unfolding physicality, has an unearthly quality both robotic and hypnotic. The atmosphere is aided by Helena Kuukka's brilliant lighting, which lets dancers seemingly melt off the stage then suddenly reappear.
Interspersed with the serious dancing — uneasily at times — are comic Hollywood-inspired routines. Even if the number's choreography didn't leave an impression, Garza sure did with stage presence to burn as she vamps through a "Sunset Boulevard" spoof, more than ready for her close-up. A riff on Shirley Bassey's Bond theme, "Diamonds" is little more than a fashion parade, and a silent-movie inspired interlude reads more like clowning than dancing.
Speaking of clowns, two dancers dressed as Charlie Chaplin (Alberto Blanco, Luis Gonzalez) provide entertainment between the big numbers, much like at a Cirque du Soleil show. I'm no fan of clowns, but it is certainly a striking visual when the duo is joined by the whole company of dancers in Chaplin garb (with semi-sticking mustaches) for a unique number by Hill, full of fancy footwork.
The show's ending peters out with a halfhearted singalong by the dancers. With so much going for it, "Hollywood en Pointe" deserves a stronger finale.
'Hollywood en Pointe'
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