Oklahoma City Ballet's February triple bill was a testament to the growing versatility of the company. With a bold combination of ballets ranging from the more than 150-year-old “Napoli Divertissments” to Robert Mills' contemporaryabstract ballet “Pushing Pennies” and concluding with “Paris Rouge,” artistic director Mills proved that the company is ready for any challenge.
“Napoli Divertissments” is an excerpt of the full-length ballet, “Napoli,” choreographed by renowned 19th century choreographer August Bournonville of the Royal Danish Ballet. Ballet master Jacob Sparso, who received his training in Copenhagen, Denmark, and later performed with the Royal Danish Ballet before coming to the U.S., staged the ballet here. The dancers did a beautiful job adapting to a style that is somewhat different than they are used to. The restrained and strictly classical upper body, combined with an emphasis on small jumps with beats and an overall feeling of lightness, was expressed throughout. Effervescent, airy and challenging, “Napoli Divertissments” was a delightful way to begin the evening.
“Pushing Pennies,” danced to music by Phillip Glass, was a total contrast to “Napoli.” It was like fast-forwarding 170 years to see the changes ballet has made. However, the juxtaposition was stunning and made both ballets shine. The dancers truly excelled in “Pushing Pennies.” It was exciting to see this ballet performed by a substantially different group of dancers. The freedom of movement, especially in the upper body, was apparent, and the dancers looked comfortable in this style. Miki Kawamura and Yui Sato were outstanding, giving the audience compelling performances.
The costumes, designed by Mills and Michael Jones, were made of reflective copper-colored fabric that added an interesting dimension to the lighting.
The program concluded with “Paris Rouge,” Mills' tribute to turn-of-the-20th-century Paris. A lighthearted love story set in a cabaret filled with patrons and can-can girls, this colorful and entertaining ballet was a perfect finish.
Tye Love, dancing the role of Alejandro, captivated the audience with his humorous portrayal. Callye McCollum, dancing the role of Yvette, was equally entrancing with a mixture of precise technique and determined flirtatiousness. Ezlimar Dortolina, as Louise, was fiery with effortless extensions. The ensemble of dancers did an excellent job with both the dancing and the characterization. The Oklahoma City Ballet's February program was an enjoyable way to showcase the diversity of ballet.
— Kathleen Redwine