The University of Utah ballet senior class took their “Final Bow” on Wednesday, May 4, in their parting performance. The School of Dance presented the show at the Marriott Center’s Hayes Christensen Theatre. A live stream was also available for those who could not attend in person.
The graduating class of 2022 has had an undeniably challenging run. Students quite literally danced their way through COVID-19, virtual classes and isolation. “‘Final Bow’ is the culmination of four years of dedicated resilience and passion that the Ballet Seniors wish to share with the audience,” the School of Dance said in an announcement. As much as “Final Bow” is a farewell to the ballet program at the U, it is also a celebration of hardships overcome.
An Exploration of Movement
Twenty-three short pieces were showcased in just over an hour. These rolled from classical variations to fluid, shape-conscious contemporary, pas de deux and ritzy jazz-fusion. According to the School of Dance, students were given liberty in choosing the dance styles and technical elements they wished to perform.
“Final Bow” also gave students the chance to showcase their original choreography. The rigor of study in the ballet program was visible in some of these works; the U’s ballet and modern programs consistently place in the top 10% of university dance programs across the U.S.
The most innovative choreography came from Hannah Huang’s “Peanut Butter Vibes” — a contemporary duet danced with Anastasia Beller to Glass Animals’ “Gooey.” Huang incorporated subtle hints of hip-hop floor work and audacious acrobatic partnering. At one point, a dancer assumed a handstand and proceeded to flip over another dancer’s shoulders.
Highlights of the Night
More standout partnering came from Erin Butts and AJ Maio in “Pas d’Esclave,” a pas de deux from Act 1 of the ballet “Le Corsaire.” Maio’s clean pirouettes and lofty leaps rightfully gained a few amazed remarks from the audience. Costuming resembled something from “The Nutcracker”’s Arabian Dance, visually capturing Le Corsaire’s pirate ship setting. Dancer Hannah Folan also performed a solo variation from this classic ballet.
“L.O.V.E,” choreographed and danced by Anastasia Beller and Paige Suttich to Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E,” was a flirty jazz-influenced duet with a dose of old Hollywood glamor. A trio composed of Holly Kyut, Caroline Bundschuh and Hannah Folan performed “Swank” to Duke Ellington’s “Smada.” The dancers began in black blazers, only to rip them open in sync and reveal sequin dresses beneath.
“Oceans and Pearls” from Marius Petipa’s “La Perle” was a quirky and entertaining modernization of a lesser-known classical work. It was also likely the first and last time the audience would watch a dancer perform in science goggles.
To conclude the evening, Ballet Program Head Christine McMillan presented Senior Awards in a short speech. Awards went to four students in the categories of performance, teaching, choreography, research and writing. “We are deeply proud of all you’ve accomplished,” McMillan said as the curtains drew to a close.