(Written by J. Timothy Quirk and R.C. Fullerton)
For lovers of traditional and contemporary ballet, the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory’s IMPACT 2015 had something for everyone in the program. On Saturday night and Sunday afternoon the students of the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory assisted by the Torrington School of Ballet deftly performed their repertoire. Tickets were sold out on Saturday’s performance at the Nancy Marine Studio Theater and Sunday’s was near capacity.
Both performances began with an introduction and welcome by Principal Ballet Master Tim Melady who reminded the audience how the dancing “en pointe” was radical and new at the beginning of the last century when Les Sylphides, the first act in IMPACT, was created. “Pointe was very new, very different then, so the act of going on to toe,” says Melady, “was something spectactular, a magic trick…how did they do it? Dancing has come along way.”
- The performance began with “Les Sylphides”, a non-narrative dance performed to composer Chopin’s work. A sylph “is a mythological spirit of the air” and each dancer glided on stage with grace and beauty. Each moment on stage appeared to be a moment straight out of a Don Perdue photograph. Staged by Denise Limoli, the dancers rested like clouds and moved like the wind. Soloists Jennifer Schwartz, Aja Belcher-Velez, Alexandra Lopez and Alexsander Keeperman all enjoyed moments to shine. The Copryphees and Corps de Ballet were Hope Freidman, Demeri Sutula, Kelsey Morris, Emma Davis, Simone Muhammad, Alma Evertz, Mary Colombie, Cassie Punzo, Isabel Jennings, Kaliece Carter, Katarina Gallagher, Meagan Selinsky, Grace Canfield, Erin Troost, Brenna Budaj, Olivia-Rose Awsumb all performed flawlessly. The point work was exceptional by all dancers.
- On Sunday night, the soloists were Sarah Jimenez, Cassandra Punzo, Riley McGregor and Thel Moore and included in the Corps de Ballet were Aja Belcher-Velez, Makenna Wollann, Jada Schiller and Olivia Rick.
- During both performances, this first act was found to be truly captivating to both Nutmeg Chatter reviewers. “Incredible precision, concentration, and poise” were the watchwords of the dance.
After the intermission at both performances, Artistic Director Victoria Mazzarelli and Joan Kunsch entered the stage and greeted the guests and discussed what was to come, the Sleeping Beauty Suite and the modern dances. Mazzarelli shared that she couldn’t be more proud of all of the dancers, from beginning to end. Kunsch shared that she will be traveling to Oslo for an international audition on behalf of the Nutmeg, noting that there are wonderful things on the horizon.
For Act II we were treated to Sleeping Beauty Suite with music from Tchaikovsky. The “Entrada” was staged by Susan Szabo and performed by the Torrington School of Ballet and the young performers danced wonderfully.
The staging of the Suite to follow was created by Eleanor D’Antuono, Kirk Peterson and Tim Melady. First came the GARLAND dance which made effective use of the four garlands. There were four male dancers and eight female dances. On Saturday, Andris Kundzins, Benton Stivali, Julius Taiber, Nicholas Vaccaro were joined by Jada Schiller, Emma Ziff, Hannah Folan, Emily Etchegary, Natalia Lopez, Janie Mae Westergard, Calpurnia Carter and Makenna Wollmann. On Sunday the men were joined by Erin Troost, Emma Ziff, Jacqueline Whitmore, Jesse Kulnych-Griffin, Natalia Lopez, Anja Nicholson, Calpurnia Carter and Sarah Meili.
Saturday’s performance of the Lilac Fairy Variation provided the opportunity for Kelsey Morris, Ava Mayer and Meagan Selinsky to showcase their talent. On Sunday Oliva Rose Awsumb, Simone Muhammad and Olivia Rick It was followed by The Rose Adagio that tells a story of four suitors (Nicholas Gray, Matanya Solomon, Andris Kundzins and Thel Moore) who vie for the attention of ballerina, Kasey Arvold. On Sunday Alexandra Lopez was featured as Thel Moore, Matanya Solomon, Taylor Gober and Alexsander Keeperman offered roses to her. The inclusion of the young dancer appearing onstage to provide the roses for the male dancers was a nice touch.
By far my favorite costuming of the night was the Puss in Boots performance that brought smiles to the audience as the playful dance was performed by Taylor Gober and Emma Davis on Satuday. On Sunday Mary Colombie and Andris Kundzins performed these roles with flair. Both found this dance very memorable.
Alexsander Keeperman wowed the Saturday crowd by performing the Blue Bird-male variation, attempting to defy gravity as a bird in flight. Nicholas Gray flew through the air in his performance on Sunday.
The Wedding Pas de Deux provided multiple opportunities of crowd pleasing leaps, lifts, pointe work and more as Thel Moore and Alma Evertz shared the stage together on Saturday. The audience applauded during the moments of superb dancing during the most challenging of feats. On Sunday Grace Canfield and Alexsander Keeperman danced
Someone in the audience on Saturday involuntarily said, “Awesome….” as the MOMIX (Moses Pendleton and Cynthia Quinn) choreography began. The piece was called Solar Flares and the joy on the dancers faces beamed rays of light on par with the sun itself. Staged by Rebecca Rasmussen and Tim Melady, the dancers Cassie Punzo, Isabel Jennings, Riley McGregor, Hope Friedman, Jennifer Schwartz, Olivia Rick, Simone Muhammad, Meagan Selinsky, Grace Canfield, Olivia-Rose Awesumb, Nicholas Gray, Taylor Gober made the MOMIX magic come alive. On Sunday Sarah Jimenez, Alma Evertz, Alexandra Lopez, Kasey Arvold, Emma Davis, Mary Colombie, Aja Belcher-Velez, Katarina Gallagher, Ava Mayers, Kelsey Morris and Thel Moore, Nick Keeperman took to the stage for the performance. The work is described as breathtaking, light, carefree throughout the performance and it ends powerfully and beautifully.
Kate St. Amand’s “The Arrow of Time” came next. On Saturday Andris Kundzins, Jada Schiller, Jesse Kulynch-Griffith, Brenna Budaj, Demeri Sutula, Calpurnia Carter, Sarah Meili, Nicholas Vaccaro, Benton Stivali, Emily Etchegary, Hannah Folan took to the stage to perform the work “inspired by time”. On Sunday Andris Kundzins, Jacqueline Whitmore, Kaliece Carter, Makenna Wollmann, Janie Mae Westergard, Calpurnia Carter, Natalia Lopez, Julius Taiber, Benton Stivali, Emma Ziff, Erin Troost, Anja Nicholson were the performers. But ALL of the dancers contributed to this work. According to St. Amand, the young dancers were involved in the creation of “The Arrow of Time” and their ownership of it translated into the performance. Silhouetted against the red backdrop, the dancers took SYREN founder Kate St Amand’s work and created a wondrous experience that captivated the audience.
The evening’s entertainment culminated in an epic finale entitled “Trance Dance”, a work choreographed by the Nutmeg’s Victoria Mazzarelli. The dancers were given the opportunity of expressing their ballet techniques in a modern style performance. On Saturday dancers Sarah Jimenez, Alma Evertz, Alexandra Lopez, Kasey Arvold, Emma Davis, Mary Colombie, Aja Belcher-Velez, Katarina Gallagher, Ava Mayers, Kelsey Morris, Isabel Jennings, Thel Moore, Nick Keeperman and Matanya Solomon gave their all. Sunday’s performers were Cassie Punzo, Isabel Jennings, Riley McGregor, Hope Friedman, Jennifer Schwartz, Olivia Rick, Simone Muhammad, Meagan Selinsky, Grace Canfield, Olivia-Rose Awesumb, Nicholas Gray, Taylor Gober, and Matanya Solomon. The evening concluded with thunderous applause.
The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory prepares their students for the career of being professional dancers. The dedication to details shines through with every show.
For more information on the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory visit them HERE.
The next opportunity for our community to enjoy a Nutmeg show will be the Graduation performances of May 13, 14, 15 and 16th. Graduation is going to be a BIG event in the world of ballet as many of these students will graduate from Nutmeg and enter the professional world of dance.