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Theater Review: Providence's Festival Ballet Brings Dances From Home And Abroad

Just last month Newport’s Island Moving Company presented some fine dancing by choreographers from Italy and Puerto Rico. Now, for the next two weekends, Providence’s Festival Ballet will show works by dance makers from Europe and America. Our performing arts critic Bill Gale caught a rehearsal for The Public’s Radio, and liked what he’s seen.

Boy, you have to wonder if there isn't a foreign invasion, at least in the dance world around here. Island Moving presented a splendid program and now, Festival Ballet is on the way to doing the same thing.

This weekend and next, they will show five dances in one of their Up Close On Hope series. I took in a rehearsal Wednesday afternoon, and the feeling is that this will be another winner for the Hope, which began back in 2003.

The work begins with "Sojourn" with an all-white wearing group of seven dancers. To music by Phillip Glass, they move with an easy grace, seeming to be sort of a another worldly group. You can't quite understand it all, but you also can't take your eyes, and mind, away from "Sojourn" either.

The dancers flow with easy grace, a smoothness that is somehow meaningful. Choreographer Kurt Douglas, a dancer who now teaches around the world, has his seven movers giving many a thought. I even considered that the all-in-white seven might just be, perhaps, flowers, in their beauty and, in the end, their own end.

Well, you can't say for sure what choreographer Douglas meant. But, you can know you've been touched, and charmed, for a time, at least.

The second piece is done by Viktor Plotnikof, the resident choreographer at Festival. His work, "Kinetic" presents three couples who move nicely, and catch the feeling of young love.

Another winner, done to Beethoven, can be, perhaps, called a love story, one that, as we all know, has to end one way or another. It is "Everything Carries Me To You" by Ilya Kozadayev, who is a veteran dancer and dance teacher.

Her dancers move with tough drive, compelled with love, at times. They are frenetic in their movement except when they do find love and caring for each other.

Here, we must note that a Festival Ballet veteran, Jennifer Ricci, is one of the movers. And after 28 years in the company (39 if you count her training time) she's still vibrant, still giving her work drive and caring.

Another winner is named "Reverso" by Yury Yanowsky, long veteran of the Boston Ballet. He has six dancers in spirited performances before a huge mirrors. They end the evening with vibrant drive always well done.

And there is one more by Courtney Asselin, a Rhode Island College graduate, now teaching at Festival. Her "Align" is a short, nice balance of fun and quickness that you enjoy even as you wonder as to meaning.

So, once again, Up Close On Hope brings an evening of straight dance, that's worth seeing, both for the dancing and for the up close atmosphere that makes the audience and performers so close.

"Up Close On Hope" opens tonight and runs through Sunday and next weekend on Friday and Saturday at Festival Ballet Providence. Bill Gale reviews performing arts for The Public’s Radio. 

Reverso by Yury Yanowsky.
Reverso by Yury Yanowsky.