Opposite Ends

Last week I attended two evenings of dance at decidedly different ends of the artistic spectrum.  Both were highly entertaining with talented dancers and excited audiences and, IMHO, a big success.  Wednesday night was Joffrey Ballet’s opening night of Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow and Saturday night was The Seldom’s STUPORMARKET.  One lavish luxury, colorful camaraderie and romantic romps — the other bare bones, black box and earthy intellectualism.  I loved them both!

Victoria Jaiani as Hanna in The Merry Widow.

Joffrey’s Widow was a flirty rom-com that highlighted the collective strength of the company, yet again, while showing off the dancers acting abilities.  Victoria Jaiani was, as usual, exquisite.  (Her arches pointing the same whether on pointe or in the air…ridiculous!)  Miguel Angel Blanco proved to be a bravura dancer, assured partner and dashing Count.  He had great comedic timing.  (Who doesn’t love a tall, handsome leading man who is continually drunk throughout the show?)  The tiny spitfire that is Yumelia Garcia found a vessel that completely complimented her über-jubiliant expressions, acting abilities and extensions.  Together again in a smart comedic pairing was Matthew Adamczyk and Willy Shives (last year’s ugly step sisters in Cinderella), who built on their timing and had many moments of scene-stealing hilarity.  A couple of the male soloist were a bit off, which may have been due to opening night jitters.  The show was so much fun to watch and the best part was that the dancers looked like they were having a blast.  Oh, and fuschia dance boots!

A bit further north (and a couple of days later) in Lakeview, The Seldom’s took the stage at the new-ish multi-theatre venue Stage 773 with Carrie Hanson’s witty take on the financial crisis, STUPORMARKET.  At once funny, silly, poignant and depressing, the new hour-long work showcases the strength, talent and versatility of her dancers and Hanson’s finely-honed aesthetic.  Compared to Widow‘s extravagance, STUPORMARKET used minimalistic choices to make its point.  Costumes from GoodWill, no wings, some folding chairs for the dancers to sit on and unique props (bubble gum and a fake bearskin rug that talks), plus the group of eight dancers…that’s it, yet it was equally as entertaining as the lavish ballet.  Hanson has an extremely talented group and many have been with her for years.  It shows in their grasp of her ideas and their trust in the movement.  I find it hard to single out any one dancer as they were all integral to the piece and delivered a high-energy performance.  I have two complaints:  in the small theater, it was difficult to see some of the floorwork (which Hanson is brilliant with) and that Hanson herself wasn’t performing.  The Seldoms take STUPORMARKET to the Joyce Soho this June and I think they will knock them off their seats.

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