Review: Indy School of Ballet's 'Russian Treasures' 

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Russian Treasures became Indianapolis jewels in the Indianapolis School of Ballet's spring production, a finely crafted rendering of four diverse pieces by Russian composers. The entire company of pre-professional dancers and guest artists rose to the challenge of delivering distinctly different styles.

Opening with Balanchine's 1967 Valse-Fantaisie, five ballerinas in classical pink tulle moved in unison in a whirl of perpetual motion, lifting Glinka's music into space.

Roberta Wong equally injected speed and lightness into her modern dance premiere, set to music by Tchaikovsky. Allegro Vivace is modern dance with overtures to classical arm extensions and curves. Sixteen dancers shimmered in form-fitting hues of sky blue, royal and magenta, interweaving and encircling as if in a water ballet. Wong's choreography stood nicely alongside Balanchine's, with lively relationships constantly changing.

Act II is the heart of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, when the hunters coming upon the swans in the moment of transformation. Emotional intensity builds with the opening unfurling of the Sorcerer's stage-filing glittering snake-skin wings. When Siegfried notices Odette, his heart stops and so does ours, and when Odette shrinks into herself with fear we are thrust into our deepest hurts. Good and evil are in combat; intuitively Odette knows that to trust Siegfried's love is the only hope to break the spell yet the power is with the Sorcerer.

Indianapolis School of Ballet graduate and guest artist Michelle Meltzer embodied Odette with every range of emotion. Victoria Lyras built upon original choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with outstanding staging for the corps of swans, leading swans and cygnets. The details of the setting and lighting were amazing, particularly the Sorcerer seeming to emerge from the rock.

Changing pace to a happy series of dances embodying the span of Hungarian society as part of a wedding celebration, Act III of Raymonda is bright and sunbathed in contrast to Swan Lake's moonlit shadowing. Alexandre Glazounov's music is filled with joy and Petipa's original choreography layers variations with virtuosity.

Lyras's staging and added choreography showcased the talent of each dancer as soloists and in corps. The Finale filled the stage with colors of glistening costumes and unbridled joyfulness as Raymonda took charge.

The entire program was stylish and rich. It was fun to observe the growth in graduates returning as guest artists, including Chris Lingner and Elizabeth Boxberger, and to watch the students move up in rank from corps to solo and principal roles. Costumes were by Loukia Finale; lighting designer was James Leitner; Paul Vitali was Ballet Master. May 19 and 20 at Scottish Rite Cathedral

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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