Review: Butler Ballet Midwinter Dance Festival

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Review: Butler Ballet Midwinter Dance Festival

Butler Ballet dances 'Por Vos Muero' in a promotional photo.

Excitement bristled throughout Butler Ballet’s Midwinter Dance Festival, with dancers delivering a demanding program with high energy and keen intelligence elegantly partnered with on-the-mark lighting and costumes.

Opening with a re-staging of Bourneville’s airy, bright classical 19th-century ballet, “Flower Festival in Genzano,” we were thrust into a joyful scene as villagers celebrated a happy interlude with lovers Rosa and Paola, interpreted with grace and power by Hailley Goleta and Garrett Glassman.

Michael J. Johnson’s original choreography set on Allesandro Marcello’s transcription of Bach’s “Adagio in D Minor” — played live by cellist Will Grubb and pianist Eugenio Urrutia — bridged into modern dance with classically oriented lyrical expressiveness.

Cynthia Pratt’s “Hook Up” shook it all up with a busy, breathtaking flurry of activity, with an erstwhile couple, Christina Sahaida and Zachary Kukla, negotiating four leggy, acrobatic party-like crowd scenes; of particular note was the magically mixed up use of chairs.

Elegant theatricality and daring partnering marked Stephan Laurent’s exploration of Elgar’s fourteen “Enigma Variations,” which cycled through ever-changing groupings.

The night's centerpiece, Nacho Duato's “Por Vos Muero,” merged old with new through a flowing melding of ballet’s natural grace and modern dance’s jerking intrusions. As the ballet undressed the outer layers of courtliness — "Por Vos Muero" draws on 15th and 16th-century Spanish dance and music — we were gripped by a de-centralizing nude-body suit raw energy. Butler Ballet has come into its own with a daring thrust. Bravo.

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