'Cascade' stands out at Annapolis Ballet


The hit of Ballet Theatre of Annapolis' abbreviated Fall program of two dances, which opened Friday night at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, was "Cascade" by guest choreographer Stephanie Powell. Ms. Powell, a local dancer who has accumulated a wealth of performing and teaching experience, is now showing herself to be a promising choreographer.

Her new dance is an abstract amalgam of modern dance sensibilities coupled with the power of ethnic dance resulting in controlled, precise yet energized dancing. Minimally impeded by the loss of one dancer due to illness, the fabric of Ms. Powell's choreography held together, and Ballet Theatre of Annapolis' dancers Laura Babel, Leslie Bradley, Ethel Leslie, Vyacheslav Mesropov, David Miller, Bradley Parquette, Sandra Prehoda and Shari Vazquez turned in fine, technically tuned performances.

"Cascade" is more an unfolding than a plummeting. The complex percussive rhythms of Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, Sweet Honey in the Rock and Nigerian musician Babatundi Olatunji define the sections of the dance. Ms. Powell allows unison sections to stick the dancers to the music, zeroing in on a particular stance, then disassembling and reassembling the components.

In the softer second section the jutting lines melt, backs are arched and a single arm is suspended overhead like a lingering yawn. When the men are featured in solos in the third section, Ms. Powell captures what is most interesting about each dancer -- Mr. Parquette's long-limbed sweep across the space, Mr. Mesropov's expressive compact movements and Mr. Miller's earnest demeanor.

Opening the evening was the classical ballet, "The Seasons," newly choreographed by the company's artistic director, Eddie Stewart, to the music of Glazunov. Mr. Stewart neatly divided the seasons into segments, with dancers personifying various seasonal elements. While each season had its own moments, it was "Summer" and "Fall" that proved most effective.

"Winter" was the first section, and most notable was Ms. Vazquez as a dynamic "Hail" and Ms. Leslie as a supple "Snow." The "Spring" highlights were Mr. Mesropov's swooping leaps as "Zephyr" and Ms. Babel's demure and neat dancing as "The Bird."

But it was the full-blown ensemble of "Summer," with its colorful "Poppies" and "Cornflowers" and the intimate pas de deux for Mr. Miller and Ms. Prehoda, that demonstrated Mr. Stewart's savvy as a choreographer.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad