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BalletCNJ Stuns in Annual Spring Performance

Review by: Alexandra Dalii

EWING, N.J.-Saturday, May 21, Ballet Central New Jersey took to the Villa Victoria Academy stage in Ewing, NJ to perform their annual Spring Performance. This three-part program featured dancers of all ages and combined classical and contemporary choreography in a way that highlighted the dancers’ strengths in technique as well as performance.  Opening the program was Night at the Ballet choreographed by BalletCNJ faculty Nanako Yamamoto. With a set reminiscent of the Stahlbaum household where the first act of The Nutcracker takes place, Night at the Ballet is centered around seven young dancers whose ballet storybook comes to life. These dancers adorably give the audience a glimpse into their storybook as they introduce snippets of classic ballets. As these young dancers introduced each ballet ranging from the three swans of Swan Lake to the pas de deux from Cinderella, their older counterparts displayed the maturity in technique and performance that BalletCNJ clearly instills in its dancers. Despite the clear excitement of the younger dancers, a few of whom waved at the audience and practically leaped onto the stage from the wings, the older dancers were composed and beautifully told the stories of the ballets that they represented. With each new ballet that was introduced, the dancers continued to shine whether in a solo, trio, or classical pas de deux.  Founding Director, Alexander Dutko’s, Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 challenged in a way unseen in most pre-professional programs. With only 16 dancers, this piece followed the dynamics of the music and alternated between quick staccato movement and elegant legato movement. Situated under three sparkling chandeliers, the dancers and their costumes adhered to the differing statuses found in a professional ballet company ranging from the corps de ballet to the lead male and female. The lead woman, Krista Pinkerton, was the Marilyn Monroe of the stage, flirting with the audience as her white dress twirled and her headpiece dazzled. Each pirouette was accentuated by the costumes, giving the impression that despite the jazzy and often quick-tempo of the score, time slowed as the dancers turned. Most impressive was the length of the piece and the ability of the dancers to perform it in its entirety without dropping their energy levels. Filled with numerous moments where the audience expected the piece to come to a close, Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 definitely challenged the stamina of the dancers. However, they rose to the challenge, not once wavering while on pointe or, in the men’s case, sacrificing the height they lifted the women.  To close the Spring Performance, BalletCNJ's older dancers, accompanied by guest artists from Rutgers' Mason Gross School of the Arts beautifully executed Act II of Giselle. Complete with intricate costumes and sets and an overture that served to transmit the audience from the happy-go-lucky mood of the preceding piece to the dark and ominous scene of Giselle Act II, Marius Petipa’s choreography was definitely a fit for the BalletCNJ dancers. The infamous Willis section highlighted the strength of the corps as they floated across and throughout the stage. While the Willis may have been (purposefully) dead in the eyes, their unison, bourrées, and port de bras were very much alive. An act that heavily relies on the strength of the corps, BalletCNJ’s Willis allowed Michelle DeAngelis to flourish as Giselle. As a whole, BalletCNJ's 2016 Annual Spring Performance served to show that central New Jersey has more to offer in terms of the arts than meets the eye. The versatility of the program perfectly reflected the versatility of the dancers as well as the capabilities of founding directors Alexander Dutko and Thiago Castro Silva to harness and further such talent.  For more information about BalletCNJ and its programs you may contact them at: BalletCNJ 4 Tennis Court Hamilton Twp., NJ 08619 609-249-4066

- By Alexandra Dalii

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