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Diablo Ballet

Featuring Nikolai Kabaniaev's 'No Title,' George Balanchine's 'Apollo,' and KT Nelson's 'It’s Not What You Think'

California Center for the Arts, Escondido, CA

February 16, 2001

There is no mistaking the strength and cohesiveness of this exciting chamber ballet company composed of six men and 5 women. They bring together a diversity of training, style, culture and experience. And, it is this very diversity which lends interest and drama to their dancing. Each dancer seems to be entirely aware of his and her individual place and this knowledge fuses them into a whole. There are no weak links in Diablo Ballet.

"No Title"
Choreography and Music: Nikolai Kabaniaev
Costume Design: Cheryl Koehler
Lighting Design: Jack Carpenter

Dancers: Lauren Jonas, Erika Johnson, Kelly Teo, Christopher Young, Victor Kabaniaev.

It is unusual for the composer to also be the choreographer. Thus "No Title" is an entire view into the dreamscape of another human being’s psyche. At times the dream speeds up in a faster than life parody of movement, the dreamer’s sense of humor. At other times its slow motion action is mesmerizing, reminding the viewer of her own dreams. It stretched, it spun, it illuminated the music and eliminated the unimportant. Costuming and stage were spare, which centered the attention on what was necessary – the music and the dance. And, integral to the dream, is how it was well and thoughtfully lit.

Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Igor Stravinsky
Costume design: Paula Vidulich
Lighting Design: Jack Carpenter

Dancers: Nikolai Kabaniaev, Karyn Lee Connell, Corinne Jonas, Tina Kay Bohnstedt

There is nothing more to say that hasn’t already been said about the choreography of this ballet. But it still has to be brought to life anew each time by the dancers – and so it was. Secure technique and sureness of purpose left the dancers free to love and explore this time honored piece. There were no breaks, no hesitancy in Apollo’s love affair with Terpsichore – we are totally convinced. Actually all the muses were worthy of his attentions. The final geometric symmetry of the arabesques of the three muses, brought gasps of delight from the audience. It was perfectly done.

"It’s Not What You Think"
Choreography: KT Nelson
Music: Bjork
Costume design: Amanda Williams
Lighting Design: Jack Carpenter

Dancers: Tina Kay Bohnstedt, Karyn Lee Connell, Erika Johnson, Corinne Jonas, Lauren Jonas, Victor Kabaniaev, Kyongho Kim, Richard Marsden, Kelly Teo, Christopher Young.

This off beat, loosely drawn, free moving post modern ballet was a good choice with which to close the evening. Letting go of formal form – no pointe shoes, no “standards” – just dance around to the music. The women were clad in simple one piece mini-skirts with socks. Though the men were in black pants it was lit well enough so they didn’t disappear; a bane of this viewer. Though I did enjoy this piece, it was not my favorite. At first I did like the music, now soft, now loud. But then it stayed loud – much too loud for comfort. No fault of the dancers – they danced up a storm.

Altogether Diablo Ballet is an exciting company of experienced, dedicated artists who very obviously enjoy what they are doing. Because of the size of the company every member is important and knows it and dances with that knowledge. And, I would go again to see them in a heartbeat.

A word about the theater. This is a relatively new (1994) theater arts complex. A really beautiful, warm house. The dancers had no complaint and neither did I, until the curtain opened and I quickly realized the seats were at too low an angle from the stage to adequately see the feet of the dancers. After all these centuries, one can’t help wondering when are we going to learn how to build a theater for dance?


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Edited by Marie.

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