Ballet Theater of Maryland’s ‘Momentum’ Shows Intimate Variety

Maryland Ballet Theater Momentum is a collection of six short pieces highlighting the various traditions and innovations in dance, as well as the talents of the company. Performed at Maryland Hall’s lower-level Bowen Theater, as well as available online, it allows for a more intimate experience.

“Constellations” opens the evening, with choreography by dancer Isaac Martinez and music arranged and performed by Daniel Fecteau. In the first part, “Tears in My Eyes”, Fecteau pinches the violin while the dancers (Lindsey Bell, Karissa Kralik, Lauren Martinez, Ryan Massey, Cindy Case, Victoria Siracusa, Michael West, Carrie Cornelius, Marjorie O’Hearne and Cassandra Hope) form pairs and groups, holding and turning while extending their legs and arms. In “Resurrections”, the music becomes faster and more dramatic, as do the solos, duets and trios, with dancers moving quickly in and out of the stage. In “The Stars in Your Eyes”, the dancers freeze in a crowd and hoist one up, before tossing and turning and sliding across the stage. The music sounds more contemporary, while the movements have a traditional feel.

Ballet Theater of Maryland dancers in ‘Momentum.’ Photo by Joanne Marie Photography.

“Sanctuary in Chaos”, choreographed by dancer Lindsey Bell to music by Dmitri Shostakovich, takes the opposite view of the association of classical music with modern movements. The piece begins with five of the dancers (Destiny Billot, Sydney Giles, Anne Gutcher, Madison Sweeney and Rowan Treece) standing and forming letters with their bodies, while the sixth (Michael West) sits in front of them, before spinning on the floor. They bend and stretch, reaching for each other as they turn. They throw themselves on the ground and sometimes raise their hands to their face, as if to shout silently. It’s impressive how successfully they combine such a contemporary movement with traditional music, even though it can feel repetitive at times. The end, however, reserves a nice surprise which, as Bell writes in the program, allows “a release of emotions”.

“Adagio from The Golden Age”, with choreography set by Dmitri Tuboltsev after Grigorovich, continues Shostakovich’s music, this time using The Golden Age Op.22. Isaac Martinez and Victoria Siracusa form a nice duo, almost constantly together. In the brief moments when they are apart, they reach out across the stage. Martinez lifts Syracuse above her head and swings her on her back, in addition to spinning and extending their legs.

“Forever You” with choreography by founding artistic director Edward Stewart, uses Max Bruch Scottish Fantasy op. 46. The main couple, Lindsey Bell and Ryan Massey, along with the other dancers (Caroline Anderson, Emily Carey, Hannah Hanson, Madeline Jones, Mia Koshansky, Audrey Martin, Brenna Mazzara, Clara Molina, Isabella Warshaw and Catherine Welch), demonstrate their control with slow and precise movements. Massey lifts Bell above his head, while the dancers spin and extend their legs.

“Paquita Pas de Deux,” with choreography set by current artistic director Nicole Kelsch after Petipa, takes music from Ludwig Minkus for a Spanish-themed dance. Leading couple Emily Carey and Aaron Bauer have lots of leg extensions and spins while laying their arms down flamenco style. Meanwhile, the Corps de Ballet (Lena Easter, Karen Fleming, Savannah Green, Meredith Hardin, Taylor Martin, Julie Smith, Rachel Spicer and Victoria Walpole) form a line behind them, extending and rotating.

“Les Petites Chaussons” is an adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s tale, choreographed by Roman Mykyta to music by Tchaikovsky. In the style of a Ukrainian folk dance, which is appropriate for current events, it tells the comic story of Vakula (Isaac Martinez) who, while looking for high-quality slippers for his beloved Oksana (Rowan Treece ), struggles with the devil (Michael West) and meets Catherine the Great (Cindy Case). The Peasants Corps de Ballet (Destiny Billot, Sarah Hoffman, Cassandra Hope, Clara Molina and Isabella Warshaw) stamp their feet powerfully and clap their hands. Treece uses leg movement perfectly to show his emotions, snapping his legs in displeasure and stretching them out in anguish in Martinez’s absence. Martinez gives an incredibly physical performance, leaping across the stage and extending her legs from a squat position. Re-enacting his battle with the devil, he dramatically throws punches and kicks.

The witches (Carrie Cornelius, Marjorie O’Hearne, Rachael Spicer and Madison Sweeney) are full of energetic moves, circling furiously around each other, then crawling up to Martinez to grab him. Michael West plays Behemoth the Devil with great skill as a cat, weaving across the stage and twirling towards his victims. His battle with Martinez is impressively athletic, jumping on Martinez’s back multiple times and once bending backwards to crawl between his legs.

Ballet Theater of Maryland dancers in ‘Momentum.’ Photo by Joanne Marie Photography.

Cindy Case looks dignified as Catherine the Great, with plenty of leg extensions and a careful glide across the stage. The Ladies in Wait (Caroline Anderson, Amanda Cobb, Olivia Fohsz, Hannah Hanson, Mia Koshansky and Celia Marritt) and the Cavaliers (Aaron Bauer and Mark McCormack) twirl and spin well. A different costume, however, would have more quickly distinguished Case from the Ladies.

Momentum offers something for all kinds of dance enthusiasts, from classical to contemporary. There’s only one performance left at Maryland Hall before an evening at the Center for Performing Arts at Prince George Community College on March 12, 2022, so catch it while you can!

Duration: 1h45 including 10 minutes intermission.

Momentum plays until 2:00 p.m. on February 27, 2022, presented by the Ballet Theater of Maryland performing at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts – 901 Chase Street in Annapolis, MD. Performances are also available for live viewing. For tickets, call the box office at 410-280-5640 or purchase on the Maryland Hall website. In-person tickets: $28. Online tickets: $25.

COVID safety: Maryland Hall’s “Covid-19 Response Plan and Policies” are here.

The Momentum the program is online here.

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