March 26, 2018
The work exhibited by Michele Wiles’ company BalletNEXT in their series of world premiers
was replete with talented young dancers with beautiful extension, graceful energy and
articulate footwork. However, the element that shined brightest in this production was in fact
the show’s lighting design, composed by Brandon Stirling Baker.
In the opening piece, titled The Pianist, a spotlight glows gently on a sleek, black piano set
upstage center. Placed against a white Marley sprung floor, the nude pale-rose hue emanating
from the scene’s backdrop illuminates the pianist and the company of young ladies clad in
black turtlenecks and pink skirts, impeccably matching the tone of the light’s design. Kudos
goes to Michele Wiles, Victoria Bek and Amanda Bouza for their stellar work in costume design
The inviting pale-rose shifts to a gentle blue for the next work, titled ‘Experience’.
Choreographically this duet between dancers Violetta Komyshan and Natalie Stys made
excellent use of the stage and smartly showcased the versatility of the performers. A nod,
again, to the costume coordination of this piece, the slate blue leotards working in tandem with
the gentle pastel shade of the lighting design.
A hat goes off to the third world premier of the evening, ‘Follin’, choreographed by Wiles and
guest choreographer Bailey Anne Vincent. As lovely as the movement was, the facial grammar
of American Sign Language was lacking in both the choreography done by the hearing dancers
and the ASL interpreter.
Vincent, as a Deaf woman, naturally retained and exhibited the integral
facial expressions of her language, however, when blended with ballet, the incorporated ASL
seemed to take a backseat to the dance. Contrapuntally, Vincent worked wonderfully with the
BalletNEXT crew and left the audience wanting more of her true representation of the dance of
American Sign Language.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Brandon Kazen-Maddox