1, 2, 3 DANCE

Richmond Ballet Dancers in “Solo in Nine Parts” by Jessica Lang. Richmond Ballet 2012. All rights reserved. Photo by Sarah Ferguson.


This is the final weekend to catch Richmond Ballet’s Studio Two, which happens at their intimate home performance space on Canal Street. If you think ballet is outdated, you haven’t seen one lately. There are definitely remnants of an old world still alive in ballet culture, but in many cases the dance is as contemporary and edgy as anything else.


Studio Two contains three shorter ballets on one program. Solo in Nine Parts, choreographed by Jessica Lang, has minimalism and variation of tempo, along with some beautiful body movement. The dancers did look a bit too upbeat, with cheerleader-style smiles, and there was an occasional lake of fluidity among a few, but perhaps they were just warming up?


Duo Concertant is a rare treat: two dancers, two musicians, all on stage together. Balanchine’s ballet means to make the music come first, requiring the dancers and the audience to actually be still and listen before a single body movement takes place. Though the music is somewhat somber and rough-edged, the mood is one of fun. The dancers play with each other, taking turns being inspired by what they hear. Maggie Small and Fernando Sabino are a treat in this piece whittled down to the basics of music and dance.


Phillip Skaggs and Cecile Tuzii in “A Rose for Miss Emily” by Agnes de Mille. Richmond Ballet 2012. All rights reserved. Photo by Sarah Ferguson.


But the icing and the cake of this studio session is Agnes de Mille’s 1970 choreographed ballet, A Rose for Miss Emily; and not just the ballet, but Cecile Tuzii’s deeply haunting performance as Miss Emily. The narrative is based on a William Faulkner short story that tells of a post-Civil War belle lost to madness from holding on to the past, isolating herself, and ultimately murdering the man she means to marry. The ballet layers time and place with a light touch, and Tuzii makes the range of emotion palpable in every movement.


The costumes for this one are tended with great care, but seem an over-theatrical depiction of period. Less would have been more. The energy of the dance, the rich metaphor and longing, and the particular complexity of the children and “mirror images” are plenty to take in. (The youth dancers did a fantastic job, by the way.)


To watch Tuzii’s performance knowing it’s her final few months dancing ballet, it becomes crystal clear what a seasoned dancer can become: pure dance.



Studio Two runs through November 11, 2012. Get tickets, here.

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