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Washington Ballet

Open House: Pas de deux from ‘Firebird’ and excerpts from ‘In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated’

by Carol Herron

September 13, 2003, Washington, D.C.

Again my friend Dani did me a lovely favor and invited me to attend the Washington Ballet Open House in Washington, D.C. It was a lovely afternoon with several things going at any given moment in the various studios.

First we went to see a working rehearsal with Septime Webre (Artistic Director) and the Company. This rehearsal was part of the ongoing Behrend-Goldstein Studio Rehearsal Series.
The company worked on their upcoming presentation of “Firebird,” which will feature a world premiere of Septime Weber's pas de deux danced by Brianne Bland and Jared Nelson. Both are technically excellent dancers, but, perhaps because this was a rehearsal, the pas de deux did not have quite the sparkle that I would have liked to have seen. There were some absolutely lovely moments but for the most part it was a little flat.

The next dance to be rehearsed was William Forsythe's “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated,” a fascinating dance to (as Septime put it) very "industrial" music by Thom Willems. This part of the rehearsal was taken by Glen Tuggle formerly of the Frankfurt Ballett. Glen actively took part in the rehearsal, dancing sections with the dancers, demonstrating and coaching. I really liked the look of this dance even though we only got to see fragments of it. It will be on the same program as the “Firebird” and also “Momentum” by Choo-San Goh, October 1-5 at the Kennedy Center.

The entire company looked very good, but a few of dancers really shone: J. Cortney Palomo, Aaron Jackson, and of course Michele Jimenez. But, the most eye catching dancer was Nikkia Parish.   She is so new to the company that her bio does not yet appear on the company's website www.washingtonballet.org Not only is she absolutely beautiful, but she has a dazzling smile, lovely form and her technique is impressive. Nikkia came from the Dance Theatre of Harlem and will be with the Washington Ballet for the entire season. I predict we will hear a lot more about her in the future.

We then went upstairs to see some young dancers go through their paces. First they did a choreographed class with explanations of the progression of training -- very informative and beautifully demonstrated.   A young dancer, Puanani Brown (14), did a contemporary solo that she had danced with success in New York competition last year. What a lovely young lady from Hawaii – she shows amazing promise. Then the whole group of advanced young dancers danced the swan entrance from “Swan Lake,” Act II.

If these young dancers are anything to go by, the Washington Ballet has some excellent talent waiting in the wings.

Edited by Jeff.

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