Verb Ballets Presents “K281,” Set to Mozart Piano Sonata as Centerpiece of Upcoming Perfomance

Fri 4/27 @ 8PM

We spent a couple of hours at Verb Ballets’ studio recently, watching rehearsals of Adam Hougland’s K281, a dance set to Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 3, K281, which will be part of Verb’ upcoming performance at Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall.

Hoagland originally set K281 on Cincinnati Ballet where it premiered in 2007. Setting K281 on Verb is Jill Marlow Krutzkamp who danced in the original cast. Our visit was early in the rehearsal process, so we set up a phone interview with Krutzkamp to get a more complete idea what to expect of the actual performance.

CoolCleveland: Does the dance use all 14 minutes and all three movements of Mozart’s sonata?

Jill Marlow Krutzkamp: Yes. There are three couples and each couple is the lead for one of the movements with the other couples coming in and out. For the first movement it’s Kate Webb and Nathanael Santiago; for the second movement, the adagio movement, it’s Kelly Korfhage and Antonio Morillo; and for the third movement it’s Lieneke Matte and Michael Escovedo.

CC: Is this dance a music visualization?

JMK: Yes, very much so. Adam is super musical. He often finds a really good way to match the dancers’ movement with the music. Sometimes he makes the audience laugh with matches that are particularly quirky or witty. This dance is very thought out and a lot of effort has gone into making sure that a certain leg movement goes with a particular musical note, something that distinguishes this piece from many others. It makes sense to the audience but during rehearsals we often have to say, “Do you realize you were a count late?”

CC: Any narrative content in this dance?

JMK: Not much, but I think that Adam did want the audience to pick up on the emotional differences between the three couples. The second couple is having trouble — she goes to him and then turns her back — but the first couple is playful and the third couple is comical, like a couple of kids going after each other on the playground.

CC: You were starting to say something more about the music.

JMK: Once I started counting the music I noticed that melodies often repeat with slight variations. For instance, there’s transitional music between the first and the second couples and that same music repeats — with variations — between the second and the third couples. So Adam uses that transitional music to bring the couples in and out.

CC: We’ll watch for that. Also, we noticed when you counted for rehearsal that you might count in eights for a while but then there would be a ten or a twelve. So counting this score must involve some study.

JMK: Absolutely! Dancers don’t always count the way a music director would, but eventually it’s all got to come out the same. As dancers we typically count sixes as twelves because it’s easier to remember.

CC: Adam’s choreography in K281 uses a lot of original, unconventional partnering material and that reminded us of your husband, Anthony Krutzkamp, in his piece for Verb, Similar. Would you care to comment?

JMK: We worked a lot with Adam, and Anthony is definitely influenced by him. Typically choreographers play off of each other and then find their own voice. At this point I think that Adam and Anthony each have a unique voice but both men are especially good at finding fluid transitions into and out of lifts. Those transitions might be challenging for the dancers to learn but in the end it all looks easy to the audience and that’s the goal.

CC: On paper, it’s not difficult to build a case for Hougland’s work. He receives positive reviews in the New York Times, his choreography wins major awards, and he choreographs for prestigious companies. But you’ve danced his choreography, so you know it from the inside. How would you describe what’s good about Adam Hougland’s work?

JMK: As we said, Adam is really good at introducing thematic material and then bringing those themes back in a way that creates continuity as opposed to just a bunch of steps. And we already mentioned how Adam comes up with really neat lifts and transitions into and out of those lifts.

Also, Adam is a really great person to work with. He’s worked with big, huge companies, with small companies like Verb, and with schools like Juilliard. He wants what he wants but he’s very adaptable from place to place. Everywhere he goes he creates a healthy atmosphere that contributes to that final product.

CC: So, what’s your advice to our readers watching K281?

JMK: I’d tell them to sit back and enjoy great choreography, beautiful music, and dancers implementing the movement.

CC: Please tell our readers about your blog,

JMK: I wanted to give dancers a place to read about different ways to create balance and wellness. So, different topics: how to prevent injuries; how to deal with having an injury; how to balance yourself out in a world of critique and competition.

CC: Cool. We hear your daughter in the background. How old is she?

JMK: She’s almost two. The terrible twos.

CC: Any ballet talent apparent yet?

JMK: Anthony likes to show her feet off. We call them banana feet. You know, high arches, good for ballet. And she definitely has a lot of energy, so we’ll see.

Verb Ballets performs K281, Heinz Poll’s Eight by Benny Goodman, and Tommie-Waheed Evans’ Dark Matter at Fri 4/27 @ 8pm at E. J. Thomas Hall in Akron. Tickets are $17-$35; go to

[Written by Elsa Johnson and Victor Lucas]

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