Cleveland Ballet held an open rehearsal to preview their upcoming concert so we drove down to watch. Maybe you know the intersection in Bedford Heights where South Green Road ends at Miles and the biggest sign is for Mars Electric? Cleveland Ballet is further back from the road. It was our first time visiting their studios and we were impressed by the size of the main studio with its high ceilings and floor width comparable to the width of the proscenium arch of the Ohio Theatre where they perform next Tuesday.
Tuesday’s concert features all new repertoire and all live music. If that’s not unusual enough, we’re told that the musicians will be playing onstage with the dancers.
We got an idea how that might work watching tenor Mikhael Urusov sing Agustín Lara’s well-known Granada while sharing the stage with dancers Madison Campbell and Anna Dobbins. As we’d expected from his extensive international performing experience, Urusov knows his way around the stage. As we watched him singing and flirting with the two dancers, we decided that artistic director Gladisa Guadalupe had choreographed the perfect opening dance for this concert. The relaxed, confident performers seemed to feel they had nothing to prove and no one to perform for but each other while we, the audience, looked on, charmed.
Those who remember the old Cleveland San Jose Ballet will surely remember Ramón Thielen with his many special abilities and spectacular physique. Lately Thielen has branched out into choreography with My Cycle of Love, a suite of three pas de deux set to tango music to be played live onstage by violinist Alexandra Preucil (Cleveland Ballet’s artistic musical supervisor) and Carolyn Gadiel Warner. As we saw it, the first couple, Lüna Sayag and Victor Jarvis, represent falling in love. In the second couple, one partner has fallen out of love but the other is still in love. The third couple, Theresa Holland and Rainer Diaz, represents the healing that eventually takes place after one’s heart has been broken.
In My Cycle of Love, Thielen has succeeded in choreographing three duets that are different from each other in tone and appropriate to their intended meanings. The partnering for the second couple was especially original and looked unusually difficult. To Thielen’s credit, the partnering managed to suggest the physical aspect of the couple’s relationship while preserving classical form. To their credit, the dancers, Lauren Stenroos and Carson Sandiford-Hoxie, maintained the emotion as they executed everything — right up to the heartbreaking ending — with never an awkward moment.
After intermission, Amore Perduto — lost love — takes its title from the well-known Albinoni adagio, sung here by Urusov. It’s another pas de deux, this time choreographed by Guadalupe on Sayag and Jarvis.
Next, the company’s three men hold forth to the furious, driving prestissimo movement of Beethoven’s Piano Trio in C minor, played here by Warner on piano, Preucil on violin and Martha Baldwin on cello. We’ve mentioned partnering skills but in this piece the three men showed their proficiency in jumps and turns, maintaining unison and landing their tours in tight fifth positions.
The recipe for the finale of any concert is well-settled: bring-everybody-onstage-and-rock-the-house. Entrances and exits of different contingents of dancers are good; allegro tempos are good; a final circle of dancers is good. Choreographer Guadalupe touches all those bases but musical director Preucil brings additional reinforcements, a total of eight musicians, seven of them members of Cleveland Orchestra. Can these players give a good account of the first movement of Mendelssohn’s Octet for strings in E flat major? We should think so!
There are other ballet and modern dance companies in Northeast Ohio but Cleveland Ballet, Verb Ballets, Neos Dance Theatre and GroundWorks Dance Theater — to name a few — all offer slightly different company styles and can each expect to draw a different audience. We wish them all the very best and hope to enjoy them all for many years.
We’re told that this concert will begin with performances by students from the School of Cleveland Ballet. As we’ve remarked in other reviews, young student dancers onstage anchor a performance in the community while they gain valuable experience. We look forward to seeing them.
Cleveland Ballet performs a concert of mixed repertoire with all live music provided by distinguished musicians Tue 10/1 @ 7pm at PlayhouseSquare’s Ohio Theatre. To purchase tickets ($25-$99) go to ClevelandBallet.org or call 216-640-8603.
[Written by Elsa Johnson and Victor Lucas]
[Photos by Mark Horning]