No one can say that the Joffrey Ballet doesn't dance enough. They do.
In fact, their dancing will leave you breathless. In a mixed program that featured a combination of classical, neo-classical and modern ballet, the Joffrey danced with grace and graciousness; with energy and enthusiasm -- all with typical Joffrey style and spirit.
"Le Sacre du Printemps," or "The Rite of Spring," choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky to music by Stravinsky, closed the program. This Art-park premiere was seen first in 1913 in Paris, where it made history as the first true piece of modern dance.
With its strange score and angular, turned-in movements, this frenzied dance of death shocked an audience that was expecting classical ballet.
Reconstructed by Joffrey, "Le Sacre du Printemps" still has the power to shock and excite.
Beatrice Rodriguez, as the Chosen Maiden, becomes one with the rhythmic music. Her dancing takes on a life of its own, as she jumps, feet turned-in, arms furiously moving up and down.
Adept at conveying the waxing and waning of energy, she is all line. Around her, many dancers are part of the ancient ritual of sacrifice, as they will her on to continue. Most impressive was the company's ability to create a sense of momentum, which was riveting.
Arpino's "Sea Shadow," the other Artpark premiere, was the kind of ballet that makes you wish you had a video camera with you. Set to the music of Ravel and featuring Tonawanda native Valerie Madonia and Tom Mossbrucker, this piece captures the moonlit mysticism of the sea.
Madonia is a vision. She is all leg and long hair; her movements are sensuous and physical as she engages in a dance of love. Using wavy arms and strong legs, she becomes a human mermaid as she "swims" toward her partner. Madonia belongs to a rare breed of dancer; she is a mesmerizing presence.
This is a strikingly beautiful piece of choreography, but it is Madonia and Mossbrucker who give it a sense of magic. As she lays on his back and extends her arms, she flutters but never falters. Mossbrucker too is all lithe line. The two are perfect partners.
The program also included Arpino's "Suite Saint-Saens" and Arthur Saint-Leon's "La Vivandiere Pas de Six." "Suite Saint-Saens," which opened the program, is a neo-classical ballet in four parts which features Madonia and other dancers in a series of perfect extensions, lovely leaps and sure-footed symmetry.
"La Vivandiere" is a romantic, Bournonville style piece which literally makes you feel like dancing. Tina LeBlanc and Edward Stierle are striking personalities; LeBlanc, a petite dynamo, is precise and lyrical in this dance where timing is everything. The six dancers sparkle with the kind of transmittable joy the Joffrey is known for; we wish they could dance again.
The Joffrey last appeared at Artpark in 1984. Let us hope they will return soon for a repeat performance of Friday night.
The Joffrey Ballet
Mixed repertory directed by Gerald Arpino. Featuring Artpark premiere of "Le Sacre du Printemps."
Friday evening at Artpark in Lewiston. Repeated at 8 tonight and 2 p.m. Sunday.