February 24, 2012
When a company arrives from outside the dance capital, repertory is all important.
Arizona Ballet, an amalgam of several Arizona Ballet companies, replaced former artistic director, Michael Utoff with Ib Anderson in 2000--who helped save it from debt oblivion. A former heart-throb and principal dancer at New York City Ballet, the Danish born Ib Anderson revels in the Bournonville and Balanchine ballet techniques. Instead of bringing works by the masters, Anderson made a daring decision to present his single evening- length work "Play." By the looks of the opening night audience at the Joyce Theater, he made a pleasant choice.
Seven different pieces of music guided the flavor of the movement in each of the sections.
"Play" opens on a classroom scene. Dancers execute warm- up exercises that grow into diagonal, across the floor demonstrations of leaps, turns, beats and point work. An attractive company, Anderson collected securely trained men and women, understated yet appealing. The choreography rings with the quick, clean beats and swift low jumps referencing the Bournonville method wrapped around Balanchine's speedy footwork, neo classical athleticism and unexpected partnering.
Each section emitted its own flavor, moving from the romantic, to a poignant, modern dance inflected quartet in "Canuts in Memory of Britten by Arvo Part." Neo classical inversions and stripped down ballet shapes a la Balanchine are linked to the music of Stravinsky. Finally, in Mozart's Minuetto and Finale, the entire cast offers a pleasing visual palette.
Anderson demonstrates his painterly talent in the costume designs that flattered the female dancers and added thematic volume to each of the sections as did the lighting design by Micahel Korsch.
Always a delight to witness the serious opportunities afforded dancers in search of careers outside of NYC, we hope for Arizona Ballet's return.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis