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Plugging in

Festival Ballet move to Metallica and Radiohead
By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  November 18, 2009

LEAPS, JUMPS, AND TWIRLS Kennedy and Akulov in Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.

For the past six years, Festival Ballet Providence has presented an evening of short works, Up Close on Hope, in their Black Box Theater on Hope Street. These shows have always featured premieres of contemporary ballet pieces by company members, including artistic director Mihailo Djuric, and by guest choreographers from Boston and Rhode Island, plus one or more classical showpieces thrown into the mix. The current program (continuing November 21 at 7:30 pm and November 22 at 6 pm) is no exception.

Certainly the three classical pas de deux, with multiple solos, can be admired and lauded for technique as well as interpretation, but it's the modern pieces that tug at our hearts, eliciting hushed whispers or even gasps from the audience. Nothing Else Matters, by Boyko Dossev, a corps member of Boston Ballet, was the stunner of the first half of the program. The music is Metallica, the dancers Roger Fonnegra and Raemon Kilfoil, the movements firmly placed, athletic, even gymnastic in places.

The feel of the piece is camaraderie, whether knocking around the neighborhood together or as off-duty soldiers. The partnering is teasing, comfortable — lifts and shoulder jabs — constantly supportive of each other until one of them cannot break out of his depression and, despite the best efforts of his mate, falls to the floor.

The other new work that blew viewers away was by Festival dancer Mark Harootian, who has created many memorable pieces for Up Close. The Risk of Trust is set to Radiohead, in an arrangement by the Vitamin String Quartet, and one of the delights is the musicality of the movement. With five female and two male dancers, Harootian has found a way to make angular gestures, of arms, legs, and even torsos, melt into rounded limbs and bodies.

The five women often reach out to grab each other's hands, a gesture of trust, even when she is being partnered by another dancer. When one couple (Jennifer Ricci and Henry Montilla, after a very affecting pas de deux) encounter another couple (Lauren Menger and Nathan Powell), the women are being held aloft but they grasp the other woman's hands and hold tight for a moment.

Another new work with permutations of pairings is Festival Ballet master Yves de Bouteiller's Secrets of the Moon, which is set, appropriately, to a European group called Les Fragments de la Nuit. This begins with three women en pointe, their arms held in front, gently rippling, as if playing a piano. Next, three male dancers land with flying leaps on the stage, then captivating duets follow, with one signature pose, as the woman clasps one foot behind her while she's lifted or spun. The duo between Mindaugas Bauzys and Vilia Putrius responds to "the inconstant moon" motif with a dance conversation that might be: "Don't push me, but be there to catch me when I fall."

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