Monday, February 10, 2014


By Nancy Condit
Last Saturday night the Oklahoma City Ballet, added another important piece to its repertoire -- Balanchine's Rubies, a nicely finessed and well performed world premiere dance by choreographer Matthew Neenan, and a short version of Carmen, also a world premiere, by Jacob Sparso, OKC Ballet' ballet master. Artistic director Robert Mills arranged the program well, leading off with Balanchine -- now regarded as part of the history of dance, proceeding to Neenan's contemporary piece, and adding a story ballet. The evening performance was at the Civic Center.

 Choreographer Matthew Neenan's Exurgency, created on the company while he was in Oklahoma City,
was a contemporary work, danced in ballet shoes, with one or two patterns of dance going on at the same
time. One worked in a slower time, the other more quickly. One group performed more tautly, the other more fluidly, and danced within each other.

The most striking moment of Exurgency was the dancers lining up behind each other, and sequentially
moving in circles, like a stretching caterpillar. Really wonderful. The music was by cellist and composer
Zoe Keating.

George Balanchine's Rubies, part of  Jewels, the first abstract evening length ballet. It was first performed April 13, 1967, to music by Igor Stravinsky. Repetiteur from the Balanchine Trust Elyse Borne staged the playful abstract work of patterns.

The dancers performed well, especially Sarah Jane Crespo, and DaYoung Jung and Yui Sato.

Carmen, was choreographed by Oklahoma City Ballet's ballet master Jacob Sparso, from a concept
by artistic director Robert Mills and Sparso, to Georges Bizet's memorable music. It was an ambitious pointe ballet that length's seemed to be just right in the opening village scene, too long in the nightclub scene, and ended rather abruptly. This was a lighter version of the story than opera fans might be used to.

Ezlimar Dortolina danced Carmen well, with Alvin Tostogray as General Escamillo, and newly returned to the company Ronnie Underwood as Don Jose -- her two lovers. Callye Crespo and Walker Martin performed well in a classical Spanish dance using castanetes under Shannon Calderon Primeau's coaching.
Primeau gave a short but excellent example of her use of castanetes and classical Spanish footwork as she
played La Muetre.

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