Vastly intimate 

The Planets
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Dance Kaleidoscope
Clowes Memorial Hall
Sept. 22-23

A tour de force in every way, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Dance Kaleidoscope’s The Planets at Clowes Memorial Hall Sept. 22-23 demonstrated collaboration at its best on and off stage.

Capacity audiences initially experienced Becki Banet Lucas’ exhibition of planetary- and earthy-themed copper textile works emblazoning the lobby walls.

The wonderment continued as the curtain parted to a heaven-scape with astronaut figures ascending. A blaze of lighting coupled with Frank Felice’s powerful scoring for Earth’s emergence from primordial waters. DK’s Kenoth Shane Patton was magnificent in the process of heaving and hewing out of the writhing, billowing fabric, which he subsequently girded as an umbilical cord, equally birthing a succession of underground creatures. The stuff that went on beneath turf, stone and built environment was wondrously enterprising. The dancers engaged and illuminated. As at its 2005 premiere, this reviewer remains awed by DK’s seamless blending of lighting and costumes with music and choreography.

David Hochoy and guest choreographer Norman Walker expanded Gustav Holst’s richly textual orchestral suite, The Planets, here played exquisitely by the ISO and chanted by the Women’s Chorus of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, under James Lowe, making his North American conducting debut.

Originally performed in 2001 with but five planets, this program added “Mercury, the Winged Messenger,” set by Walker as a comedic pas de trios tryst featuring George Salinas as an air-borne fleet-footed Mercury, and “Neptune, the Mystic,” divined by Hochoy as a rippling seascape featuring Liberty Harris and the company.

With new dancers, however, even the older segments appeared stunningly new. The company wrenched gasps from the forceful “Mars, the Bringer of War.” Mariel Greenlee and Christopher Faesi brought grace to the lyrical “Venus, the Bringer of Peace” and Melanie Schreiber and company delivered verve to “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity.”

Matthew Sparks showed his growth as a dancer as “Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age.” He was lithe and regal as the commanding, learned sage.

It was “Uranus, the Magician” that was the showstopper, however, with virtuoso partnering by Patton and Salinas. Their wrestling and shows of strength were awesome, in counterweight balancing and fast-paced maneuvers.

DK returned fit and strong from its final summer with the Oregon-based Shakespeare Festival. It can, however, be surmised that dancing to live music and on the more spacious Clowes stage were added factors for a fine program, where the choreography delved into the interior of the music and the inspirations from which they emanated. The characteristics of the planets come to us largely from the ancient mythologies. Playing in conjunction with the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Roman Art from the Louvre, the deeper insights DK provided are welcome indeed.

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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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