Spring cleaning: U ballet students can’t clear out all the dust bunnies in their Spring Dance recital

A celebration of the changing of the seasons typically reflects the natural metamorphosis that is spring: a breaking from frost’s decisive grip, as life is propelled anew. However, the ballet department could only mildly reflect this wonderment with their recently concluded Spring Dance recital.

For the performance, department faculty steered creative control back into the hands of students, only recently after students finished directing themselves a month ago in this semester’s Ballet Showcase.

Things started off well for the ballet students, with an impressive night-opening “Etudes Avec Six Filles.”

A proper etude rightly demonstrates a point of technique, but choreographer Gilles Maidon seemed bent on simplicity, even while Chopin’s musical accompaniment to the piece proved decidedly intricate.

Choreographer Conrad Ludlow followed the etude oddly with a lackluster, stale piece dedicated to a hero of a marching band’s songbook, John Philip Sousa.

The music used for the performance eked an eerie, antique mask of Sousa’s intentions, wrenching dancers back into a ridiculous pomp of salutes and smiling faces costumed in leotards of stars and stripes.

Before breaking momentarily, audience members were then graced with “A Court Without Women Is A Year Without Spring, and Spring Without Rose.” Originating from a quote given by King Francis I, choreographer Sharee Lane organized an intelligent insight to the efforts of King Francis’ time. Dancer Meredith Wahlstrom opened with a solo on the Harp, before masked dancers, keen to the traditions of the Renaissance, displayed an encouraging glimpse of representation of the times.

The night still lacked depth, however, and connection, moving haphazardly into “Valse,” another piece choreographed by Ludlow.

After intermission, a brief, predictable gift of French influence from Maidon’s second piece of the evening, “Mon Pre,” provided a sense of emotion rare to the evening.

The saving grace of the otherwise bland and lacking recital was the anticipated debut of guest choreographer Eloy Barragan’s, “Vuela Conmigo.”

Already an improvisation, Barragan, with the help of faculty member Steve Rasmussen and the Marriott Center for Dance Costume Shop, brought modernity to an otherwise antiquated evening of dance.

Amongst dancers clad uniformly in black spandex, female soloist Hannah Beach stood out in brilliant red and effectively moved to the interpretations of Barragan’s recent exposure to the exotic lands of Costa Rica and Panama, with particular observations of the nature of that region’s elegant birds.

In an evening that meandered the blas territory of outdated attitudes of dance, perhaps Barragan was right in thinking that ballet needs to expand its technique to further move into modernity, working to connect with today’s younger dancers and audiences.

[email protected]