Bach & ballet combine for Philharmonic pax de deux
Classical Ballet and a Bach Magnificat. Perhaps the conception of the union is unusual but the results were a magnificent blending of Bach’s choral music, live orchestra and soloists and the sheer beauty of classical ballet.
Two catalysts made this brew into an elegant cocktail - The Bach Society of Dayton and Barbara Pontecorvo’s Gem City Ballet. Former Dayton Ballet dancer Peter Merz is now professor of dance at Point Park University. He created the work for the Gem City Ballet and the wheels started turning.
Enlisting members of the Philharmonic, Maestro John Neely to conduct, vocal soloists and chorus to sing the demanding Latin texts was the hard part. The easy work was already done. J. S. Bach had already created his Magnificat as a young man in 1723 and Barbara Pontecorvo has been steadily creating great young dancers for a decade.
The concert, before a nearly full house at the Victoria, was a triumph. The addition of colorfully costumed graceful dancers to the Bach oratorio was simply stunning.
I have been praising the very beautiful Gem City Ballet for years. Strict discipline, intense training, taste and passion for the art have created dancers who have gone on to careers or to lives touched with the fire of great art.
Bach’s music, serious in intent but light-hearted, was played by Philharmonic artists under the sensitive baton of John Neely The soloists - Emily Landa, Andrea Chenoweth, Liza Forrester, Randall Black and Jeremy Kelly - are all professionals
with multiple credits. The strength of The Bach Society of Dayton chorus iw well known.
Each section featured dancers in various combinations. Their movements enhanced the music and the audience’s experience. It was truly – a Magnificat.!
The concert began with three ballets drawn from the repertory of both Gem City Ballet and Dayton Ballet. The opening number, the classic Pas de Quatre, is a commemoration of four historic prima ballerinas of the past.
Staged by Laura Alonso, she had her young dancers take the personae of historic icons without apology. Krystal Palmer, Amanda Combs, Chloe Donaldson and Hannah Wagner reached a special place in dance. They were nearly flawless in movement but added the personalities of the dancers and their polite but acid rivalry to the delight of the audience and themselves.
This was followed by Jon Rodriguez’ Vivaldiana. A sunny and effervescent ballet with classic moves well-laced with Jon’s special touches, it was, as expected, very well performed.
Stuart Sebastian, a storied name in Dayton dance, created …and they were not ashamed for Dayton Ballet. It is an amazing pas de deux telling the awakening of man and woman, Adam and Eve, as only dance can express it.
Amanda Combs and Timothy Barker performed with depth of feeling, ultimate grace and a sexual tension far beyond their expected reach. Adam awakes, feels his missing rib, and discovers Eve. Their progression from the first almost painful touch of hand to shoulder, to the first embrace, was an awakening for all of us.
Bravo, bravi to all involved in this memorable night. I can’t imagine that it can be duplicated but, with the creative juices displayed, I rule out nothing in the future!
Dayton Playhouse’ The King and I
The opening of the Dayton Playhouse production of The King and I was a reviewer’s dream. The Rogers and Hammerstein legendary musical is based on Anna and the King of Siam. Imagine doing the great musical without an Anna?
This nearly happened to director Kim Warrick and Playhouse Executive Director Amy Brown. Karen Righter was poised to take her first leading role when some gremlins attacked her making her too ill to leave her bed. In near anguish, Kim called on Kelly Pekar, a senior WSU Musical Theatre student.
Kelly stepped in with less than 24 hours notice. She learned the part, including the great songs, and was absolutely darling as Anna. She captivated the king, his phalanx of wives and children and the audience.
The production, played on an innovative set in gold adorned costumes, was a fun community theater experience. The king was played by handsome and macho Michael Taint. From the first lines, his resonating voice set the tone for the rest of the play. When Michael was asked if he was going to shave his head, he replied, “I’m playing the King of Siam, not Yul Brunner playing the King of Siam.” The cast responded well to this leadership.
As the lovely Tuptim, Crystal Baldwin sang and spoke with a strong and captivating voice. Her lover was sung by Anthony Sollenberger. Together they had some of the loveliest songs in the musical. Leah Jones had a winning song as head wife.
No King and I would be complete without the kids. The handsome and charming youngsters were led by Luke Miller and Bret Miller. The antics of Piper Jones, already a star at age two, added to the general delight.
Congratulations to Dayton Playhouse and kudos to Kelly Pekar who exemplified the old saw,”the show must go on!”
The King and I
Showtimes are Friday and Saturday evening at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. through Feb. 15. Tickets are $16/adults, $15/Senior Citizens, $12/12 and under. Group rates are also available.
Please call 937-424-8477 for reservations or go to our website, www.daytonplayhouse.org.
Blackbird Quartet takes stage with DCDC Feb. 7
The Blackbird Quartet, comprised of Oakwood High School students, will take to the Victoria Theatre stage to provide classical accompaniment for modern dance during the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s Winter Concert, Celebrations, on Saturday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
The Blackbird Quartet includes Clara Hofeldt and Ellen Milligan on violin, Amy Malone on viola, and Josh Halpern on cello. Clara Hofeldt will play the first movement of Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, and then the entire quartet will play Mozart’s three-movement Quartet No. 4 in C Major, K 157. The music will accompany a new four-part dance suite entitled “Corinth” by DCDC choreographer Crystal Michelle. DCDC’s winter performance celebrates collaboration.
In addition to the Blackbird Quartet, the internationally-renowned dance company will perform with the University of Dayton Jazz Ensemble and Centerville High School’s jazz choir “Forte.”
For more information or tickets, visit www.dcdc.org, call Ticket Center Stage at 937-228-3630 or visit ticketcenterstage.com.
Culture Works sets $1.7 million funding goal
Culture Works launched its 34th annual Campaign for the Arts with a kick-off celebration on Jan. 29, 2009 at the Cox Ohio Publishing Media Center. The campaign annually provides the single largest private commitment of general operating support to the arts in our region. The program included performances by The Muse Machine, Dayton Opera and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and was be hosted by Bryan J. Bucklew, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association. Bucklew also serves on the Culture Works Board of Directors.
The 2009 campaign will officially run from Feb. 1 to May 16, 2009 with a goal of $1.70 million, a zero increase over last year. Setting the pace this year are the Campaign Partners NCR, Dayton Daily News and Time Warner. Combined with significant support from Meadwestvaco, New Page, WDTN, WHIO, & ABC 22/Fox 45 along with many individuals, businesses and foundations, the campaign has received over $600,000 to date. Last year, Culture Works raised $1.7 million from nearly 6,000 community members. Serving as Campaign Chair is Oakwood resident Jon Sebaly of Sebaly Shillito and Dyer.
“As members of the community, it is important for us to continue to invest in and grow our cultural assets. City and business leaders regularly cite that a high level of creative artistic offerings and activities are an important factor in the recruitment and retention of quality employers and employees. Studies also continue to show the importance of the arts to the revitalization of neighborhoods, education of children and economic development of a region” Sebaly said.
In 1974, Culture Works, then known as The Dayton Performing Arts Fund, began a united appeal to raise money for three Dayton based arts groups, the Dayton Philharmonic, the Dayton Opera and the Dayton Ballet. Over the years, the groups included in the campaign have expanded and today include: the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Dayton Opera, Dayton Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC), The Human Race Theatre Company, The Muse Machine and Cityfolk, which collectively share more than a million dollars a year from the campaign. The campaign also supports smaller groups including Rhythm in Shoes, The Dayton Playhouse, Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC), K12 Gallery for Young People, Kettering Children’s Choir, Yellow Springs Kids Playhouse and others.
DAI Whitmore retrospective
The Dayton Art Institute today announced it will feature the artistic legacy of Dayton native Robert Whitmore, with the retrospective exhibition, “In the Glen: The Art of Robert Whitmore.” The exhibition will open Jan. 31 and close April 5, 2009. It features approximately sixty works of art that were jointly selected by Will South, DAI Chief Curator, and Kay Koeninger, Associate Professor of Art History at Sinclair College.
Whitmore attended Steele High School in Dayton before going on to study at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago from 1913 to 1917. He is known for being an accomplished painter, printmaker and draftsman, who expressed a genuine
love for the world around him with vibrant line, vivid color and a disciplined eye for composition.
From Chicago, Whitmore served in World War I, and attended the Cincinnati Art Academy in 1919. In the 1920’s, he began teaching at the recently established Dayton Art Institute. Whitmore purchased twenty-nine acres outside of Yellow Springs in 1924 that were once part of a farm owned by Horace Mann, the first president of Antioch College.
Whitmore’s youngest son, Jon, lives on that same acreage along with hundreds of works of art by his father, and it is through Jon’s generosity in sharing them that “In the Glen: The Art of Robert Whitmore” was made possible.
‘Unchained II’ includes 26 artists
Link Gallery, 519 East Fifth St., located in the Oregon Arts District, presents “Unchained II,” an exhibit of works by an ensemble of some of Dayton’s most notable artists. Included are lithographs, etchings, chine colle, paintings, sculpture, photographs, mixed media, wood, mobiles and glass. Featured artists are: Julie Anderson, Michael Bashaw, Kaye Carlile, Glen Cebulash, Thomas Chapman, Stefan Chinov, Bob Colaizzi, Peter Gooch, Terry Hitt, Jeffrey Cortland Jones, Erin Holscher Almazan, Tom Keen, David Leach, Tracy Longley-Cook, Kevin Messer, Jim Moser, Susanne Scherette King, Andy Snow, Rachel Stanzione, Jon Swiindler, Jennifer Rosengarten, Marc Suda, Sean Wilkinson, Terry Welker, Joel Whitaker, and Jud Yalkut. The Images range from figurative to abstract. The exhibit will be on view until Feb. 28.