Triangle Arts&Entertainment – Carolina Ballet’s Dynamic “Four Seasons” Premier

February 27th, 2014

by Denise Cerniglia

There’s no B side to the Carolina Ballet’s current program and double debut of original work. On Saturday night Artistic Director Robert Weiss reminded the audience that the Carolina Ballet produces more new works than any ballet company in the world besides the New York City Ballet. This is exciting news for North Carolinians! The first program of 2014 (which runs through March 2) premieres Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 choreographed by Zalman Raffael and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Weiss.

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 is the third piece by Raffael to be staged by the Carolina Ballet. His previous works, Rhapsody in Blue and A Street Symphony were fresh and engaging, but his newest one shows marked subtlety and maturity. A passionate pas de deux danced by Jan Burkhard and Yevgeny Shlapko was deeply moving. The pair danced together more than apart but their expressions showed a sense loneliness and longing. I’m still in awe of Raffael’s artistic ability to initially create tension and follow through in a powerful and moving way without a lift or leap, which you might expect during that climactic movement.

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is another fabulous addition the company’s repertoire. Weiss admitted that although he had loved the music for years, he had to back himself up against a wall to finally choreograph a ballet to it by scheduling its performance for this season. Pressure must be good for inspiration and insight, because this ballet is the perfect visual manifestation of the music. Each season is different in movement style, mood and appearance.

This ballet has generated a lot of conversation on social media sites, and like the actual seasons, everyone has a favorite. As Spring, Lilyan Vigo and Richard Krusch were ethereal and majestic.

Eugene C. Barnes, III was intense as Summer, along with Cecilia Iliesiu, Lindsay Purrington, Ashley Hathaway and Randi Osetek, who became wilder as the summer became hotter. Iliesiu jumped with seeming ease to heights normally only seen on male dancers.

Autumn was my personal favorite. Lara O’Brien’s sinewy movements were like a young tree being folded by a fall breeze. She and Marcelo Martinez danced downstage under a spotlight and four couples matched them upstage, unlit. The lighting created a feeling of a temporal separation between them, as if the dancers in the dark were an echo or a memory or nostalgia for summer.

Pablo Javier Perez, Sokvannara Sar and Nikolai Smirnov brought Winter by filling the stage with amazing leaps and jumps. Winter was at times a fast paced frenzy with the three men and nine women.

I hated to see the curtain close after this superb night of ballet. I’m always excited to see a familiar classic like Sleeping Beauty which the Carolina Ballet will perform in May, but the continuous creation of new works in combination with the classics makes the company interesting and ensures that it’s never just another night at the ballet.

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