"Butler Ballet Midwinter Dance Festival
Butler University Lilly Hall
Butler Ballet students’ fluidity to Franz Biber’s The Guardian Angel Sonata made James Kudelka’s choreography the most inspired work in an altogether intriguing program, part of the Midwinter Dance Festival last week.
With “See #2,” 11 dancers moved as in a slow, stately French court dance, gliding from partner to partner and reconfiguring relationships in concentric circles not unlike a kaleidoscope, catching light and eliciting possibilities from fragments silently clicking past, out of and onto each other. The control showcased what’s possible when the best technique is demanded.
Biber’s violin sonatas, written around 1675, represent meditations on episodes in the life of Christ. Interpreting music stories into dance means plumbing the original intent and bringing the inner qualities forward to contemporary audiences. What happened here was memorable. The overall effect on the audience was awe.
Kudelka created the work during a two-week residency at Butler earlier this year.
World-renowned Twyla Tharp, an Indiana native, is currently campus-bound with her works being licensed for use by dance departments. Torelli premiered May 28, 1971, with three dancers. Cynthia Pratt restaged the concept on seven, who move in silence until music explodes the uniform exercises into individualized reactions to rhythm and melody, thus propelling bodies vertically and horizontally.
Susan McGuire also explores moving sans music with Idylwild and then layers on Larry A. Attaway’s sound score to heighten the intensity of dancers displaying “the alertness of an animal in its native habitat.”
With Karelia Suite, Stephan Laurent continues his kinship with Jan Sibelius. Here, the music of Finland evinces the qualities of forests and lakes and the idyllic rapture of young love amidst a folk festival.
Dancing was strong throughout the program, and the overall effect was abetted by costumes and lighting matched to the intent of each work.
Two other premieres presented on an alternate bill were Cynthia Pratt’s Chairs and Marek Cholewa’s A Path.