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Oakwood homes during the
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Dayton Ballet presents ‘An Evening of Repertory’

The wait was worth it!  Dayton Ballet has presented four full length “story ballets” this season.  All were very well done and full of fine dancing and dramatic expression.

These are the “meat and potatoes” of dance. They appeal to a wide audience filling seats.  However, it is repertory ballet, an evening of separate ballets, separate styles, separate kinds of dance excitement that adds the pâté, champagne and truffles to the standard buffet.  

Dayton Ballet, 20 beautiful dancers, performs like a much larger company.  During the four ballets of the repertory concert, roles were doubled, probably even tripled.   Complete costume changes between ballets were accomplished in a few minutes and the entire evening was seamless dance enjoyment.

Dayton Ballet is an all-star company.  Each dancer shines as a soloist as well as in supporting roles.  This was most evident in their final concert aptly titled An Evening of Repertory.

There were many special aspects to the evening.  Dermot Burke paid special tribute to two 25 year veterans of Dayton Ballet.  Both Gregory Robinson and Lowell Mathwich began as dancers.  Gregory has moved on to become a major choreographer and is the Artistic Associate of the company.  His latest work, Corazon, had its world premiere on Thursday, April 24.

The needle and thread replaced ballet shoes in Lowell’s career. His costuming magic has decked so many dancers in so many productions.  I remember every aspect of Lowell and Gregory’s careers and send them my personal congratulations and gratitude.

Karen Russo is a major choreographer as well as having so many responsibilities in the workings of the company.  She is the wife of Dermot Burke and mother of their three lovely children.  Karen has created many ballets.  It is her latest, A Streetcar Named Desire, which catapults her into the starry firmament.

The program opened with Caprice by William Whitener. A great dancer, Whitener’s impressive résumé includes so many dance milestones.  His ballet has another tie to Dayton.  Karen Russo performed in it during her career with American Repertory Ballet.  

Caprice is a stunning ballet based on the Children’s Pieces of Dmitri

Kabalevsky. These charming, short and very perky piano pieces illustrate children’s games with spirit and joy. The music was played beautifully by pianist Rosanne Brown, the ballet’s accompanist.

The curtain opened with the ladies of the corps in various poses.  That was the last static moment of the ballet.  Cavorting to the delightful music, each dancer had special moments and the total was more than a sum of the parts.  Memorable was a delicious slow dance by Grant Dettling and Jennifer Grund and darling Christy Forehand as a mechanical doll.

Greg Robinson’s Corazon distilled Spanish music into dance.  Robinson and his dancers created “salsa on pointe!”  Again the all-stars performed magnificently. Special solos by Ashley Sass and Reno Street, Reno and Eduard Forehand, Richard Grund and Keenan McLaren and Katie Keith, Christy Forehand and Erika Cole were among the high points.

The acme of the evening was Karen Russo’s A Streetcar Named Desire.  The classic Tennessee Williams play has thrived in so many permutations since its debut in 1947.  As a ballet, each nuance of the story, the tragic interplay of iconic characters, the looming image of Marlon Brando as Stanley was intensified by the art of dance.  

Each movement spoke pages of dialogue, and with even greater clarity.  Instantly, we understood the destruction of Blanche, the would-be Southern Belle. The history of her failed marriage was expanded to give us a more sympathetic acceptance of her personal tragedy.

The principal characters were Oren Porterfield as Blanche, Jennifer Grund as the innocent but lusty lover of her husband, Stanley, who was played by brutish but loving Richard Grund. Eduard Forehand was Stanley’s friend Mitch who cared for Blanche until he was told of her past by Stanley.  Each role was crystalline in dramatic clarity.  

The ballet was played to an original score by William Sokol.  A rock musician, Sokol used the relentless rhythms of New Orleans with sweeping melodic lines played on an interesting variety of instruments – including a tuba!

This ballet, short only in time on stage but perfect in conception, belongs on ballet programs all over the world.  Its undeniable message is told to perfection by the universal language of dance.  Unforgettable and much appreciated.

The evening closed with the world premiere of Thresholds II by Alan Hineline.  To percussive music, the dancers performed complex and exciting movements in a variety of combinations.  Beautifully danced, it deserves a longer review and another performance on our ballet stage.


The next evening took us from “the sublime to the ridiculous.”  The ballet was certainly sublime and Monty Python’s Spamalot was indeed, ridiculous.

For those of us who know and love the antics of Monty Python, ridiculous is a great compliment.  A very handsome and energetic cast managed to incorporate nearly all of the most memorable Python moments into a non-stop extravaganza.  

Many in the audience were moving their lips to the familiar lines of each “schtich” and loving every moment of it. Congratulations to the Victoria for giving us another opportunity to lament the retirement of Monty Python – the group who made the word “Spam” universal.

Dayton Women Photographers Exhibition May 1

The first Annual Dayton Women Photographers Exhibition opens May 2 at the Color of Energy Gallery, 16 Brown St., and at Pacchia’s Restaurant, 410 E. Fifth St., both in the Oregon District. Photographs will be on exhibit through June 20.

The opening reception is Thursday, May 1 at Color of Energy Gallery from 7-9 p.m. with the official opening on Friday, May 2. The exhibition will stay open until Friday, June 20.

The exhibition includes a wide range of subject matter and processes, from experimental, nature and alternative darkroom processes, to social and political commentary, travel and more.

In all, 27 photographers from the Greater Dayton area are represented by their 53 works.

MODA fashion show returns to DAI April 30

MODA, the Italian word for fashion, returns to The Dayton Art Institute on Wednesday, April 30 in a showcase of the latest fashions by Elan to benefit Vanguard Concerts, one of the museum’s long-standing programs.

The afternoon begins with a tea and ends with the fashion show. Guests will also enjoy a private viewing of The Dayton Art Institute’s special exhibition, LIMITED EDITIONS: 20th-Century Prints from the Ponderosa Collection.

Raffle prizes include a Roberto Coin diamond bracelet from James Free Jewelers; a 7-night stay in a Palm Springs, or Biloxi condo; a set of flat-screen televisions from Rex Stores; a night-out at The Greene with limo service, dinner, and movie tickets; a catered dinner for ten by Silver Spoons Catering; and his and hers home lounge outfits from Whispers Fine Lingerie and Gifts.

All proceeds from MODA support an endowment for Vanguard Concerts, which was founded in 1962 to present Dayton with an annual international chamber music series at The Dayton Art Institute. For 46 years, Vanguard has presented the world’s most acclaimed chamber ensembles and soloists on the stage of the Art Institute’s auditorium.

Tickets for MODA 2008 are available by calling The Dayton Art Institute at 223-5277. Grand Patron tickets, with preferred seating for the fashion show and a special gift, are $100 per person. Patron level tickets are $75 per person.

DSPS announces Spring Art Show April 27

The Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors, celebrating its 70th Anniversary, announces the 2008 Annual Juried Open Spring Show at the 48 High Street Gallery located in Dayton’s St. Anne’s Hill Historic District.  Artist Yan Sun, Associate Professor of Art and Director of the Art Gallery at Muskingum University judged entries in the five categories of People, Places, Things, 3-Dimension, and Abstract.

The Opening Reception will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on April 27 with the award ceremony at 3 p.m.  Continuing through May 18, Gallery hours are Thursdays & Fridays 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturdays & Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. There is never a charge at the Gallery and parking is free across the street in the Bomberger Center lot.  

For additional information call 937-297-0916 or email

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April 29, 2008
Volume 17, No. 18

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