DANCE REVIEW: Neos Dance Theatre at Akron’s Firestone Park @CityOfAkron

NEOS

Fri 7/24

We drove down to Firestone Park in Akron on Fri 7/24 and watched Neos Dance Theatre kick off this summer’s Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival.

The Mansfield-based company’s program began with a new group dance, the first of two world premieres on the program. Searching for the Find was choreographed by artistic director Bobby Wesner. Good thing we got to this concert on time because this first dance on the program displayed a dazzling group of dancers to maximum advantage. You never saw so many long and slender legs slicing the stratosphere! And arabesques! And multiple turns! This is an unusually good-looking local ballet company.

The costumes by Inda Blach-Geib — bare chests for the four men, bare legs and pointe shoes for the six women — didn’t hurt. Neither did the percussive music by various artists. A very good opening dance!

Wesner himself came out and danced in the next piece, Berceuse, a low-key, restlessly introverted duet with Mary Elizabeth Fenn, costumed and choreographed by Penny Saunders. Flung arms and legs, loose and gauzy costumes, subdued lighting design by Dennis Dugan. A big change of pace from the first piece on the concert and canny programing.

Third on the program was Chichester Psalms by Hernando Cortez, Verb Ballets’ first artistic director. Cortez left Verb and Cleveland suddenly in, we believe, summer of 2009 under something of a cloud but that doesn’t diminish our regard for some of his choreography for Verb, and Chichester Psalms is among our favorites. Our thanks to Neos for this restaging, including the beautiful original costumes by Janet Bolick.

Last dance on the program and the second world premiere of the evening was Suite for Strings with music by Leoš Janáček and choreography by Joseph Morrissey. We enjoyed this dance for its beautiful string ensemble music, clean execution by the eight dancers, and Morrissey’s well-thought-out choreography. We’d like to see more work by Morrissey, who seems to have a robust national and international presence.

Our only complaint about Neos is that they come to Cleveland too seldom. But we get our wish when the company comes to PlayhouseSquare Sat 10/3 t share he stage with the new Cleveland Ballet. For tickets go here.

Another opportunity to see Neos north of Mansfield is at the Akron Civic Theatre Fri 10/30 for a performance of Neos’ multimedia Count… The Legend of Dracula. We saw excerpts of this piece years ago and found it unusually effective dance theater. Tickets HERE.

neosdancetheatre.org

Lots more dance to come this summer. See our CoolCleveland.com preview HERE.

[Written by Elsa Johnson and Victor Lucas]
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