Ballet Arizona has been catching more national attention in the past few years, with its Nutcracker catching the attention of the difficult-to-please NY Times, and more. Their “Ballet Under the Stars” program that I mentioned in the previous blog post gave me a glimpse of the company that I’d heard about, with its Balanchine style really popping off the stage on their quietly unassuming but commanding dancers. It was with this, I was excited to see what this company is all about.
It’s funny how ballet companies all over the world all seem to be performing the same productions yearly. Last year, it seemed like everyone was performing Cinderella, and this year, the production of the year appears to be La Bayadere. It’s my first viewing of this iconic ballet, particularly striking for its famous scenes, with the Kingdom of the Shades, and the insect-like Bronze Idol. It was great to finally see these scenes within the context of the ballet.
The Ballet Arizona teams up with the Phoenix Symphony to continue to provide live music to Phoenix audiences. Ludwig Minkus’ score for La Bayadere soared through the auditorium, with every nuance and color to bring this production to life. During Nikiya’s famous dance with the
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flower basket, her sad arms are buoyed strongly with the surging melody from the principal cello who mourns with her.
Like most classical ballets, the plot line can be silly, and thankfully the dancers never convincingly sell the story itself. Solor swears his love to Nikiya and then marries another without so much as a shoulder shrug – or is it more of a general statement on men?? The plot however doesn’t take away from the dancing itself. In the matinee show that I saw, Arianni Martin danced the role of Nikiya with soulful arms and beautiful extensions. Amber Lewis is a spirited Gamzatti, probably the most convincing of the characters onstage. Nayon Iovino as Solor doesn’t get a chance to fly until his solo, where his jumps brought enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Ballet Arizona’s La Bayadere was an extravagant production that showcased Ib Andersen’s vision for his company, in addition to the fine classical dancing of the Ballet Arizona dancers as well as the lovely musicality of the Phoenix Symphony. It was a great first look for me, for both Ballet Arizona as well as La Bayadere.
Ballet Arizona’s website. Their next performance is tited “Masters of Movement”, and will feature works by Cerrudo and Andersen on March 27-30.