‘Bernstein and Robbins’ an evening of Americana in dance

By Logan A. White
Times-News correspondent

   RALEIGH  — It’s a melting pot of Americana.
Carolina Ballet’s “An Evening of Bernstein and Robbins,” is being performed now through March 27, 2019, at Fletcher Opera Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E South St.
Beginning the evening of March 8 with a bang, Zalman Raffael’s ‘The Metaphorical Heart” was an exercise in the mesmerizing quality of musicality, showcasing the syncopations and nuances of Leonard Bernstein’s “Piano Trio.” Margaret Severin-Hansen and Richard Krusch wowed with lightning-quick virtuosity, while Jan Burkhard and Sokvannara Sar demonstrated the power of subtlety. Keenan English was also a standout, appearing to fly through the air with crystal clear focus. Each dancer in “Metaphorical Heart” shone in delightful simplicity: with minimalistic costuming and set design, theatergoers could truly appreciate the symbiosis of music and motion.
   ”Afternoon of a Faun,” a work of Jerome Robbins set to music by Claude Debussy, provided an innocent tale of brief, budding romance. The pas de deux is set in a dance studio, the dancers creating a connection by “seeing” each other through a mirror, never looking directly at their partner but instead locking eyes in their reflections. Sam Ainley and Lilly Wills performed “Afternoon” with captivating intention, gazing into their own imaginary mirror, offering the audience a valuable glimpse of a purely private duet.
“A Graceful, Lighthearted Sonata,” Raffael’s second ballet of the evening, evoked sensations of the coming spring through the warmth of companionship. True to its name, the piece featured a trio of dancers exhibiting airy, joyous ease. Courtney Schenberger was generous with both her smile and her spirit, while Lauren Wolfram executed each phrase with an effortless grace. Jayson Pescasio flowed seamlessly between the two, springing onto the stage with exuberant power.
Jerome Robbins’ iconic “Fancy Free” was a fitting finale to a stellar evening at the ballet  set during the height of World War II, it depicts a night’s adventures for three sailors on shore leave in New York City. From pursuing lovely ladies to toasting a night on the town, the three soldiers cavorted in a way that felt completely organic.
Jayson Pescasio was brilliantly energetic as the First Sailor, both cocky and charming, while Sam Ainley provides a mellow counterpart as the collected, controlled Second Sailor. Miles Sollars-White’s Third Sailor is definitely a crowd favorite, with a solo that combines subtle comedy with a unique sense of rhythm. Jan Burkhard and Kathleen Black were stunning as the two Passers-By, trading pointe shoes for heels without a second thought and slipping into the world of jazz. Together with the breathtaking sets (contributed by Richmond Ballet) and soaring score of Bernstein, the dancers of ‘Fancy Free’ created a atmosphere that was fun, immersive and uniquely American.

An Evening of Bernstein and Robbins is being performed now through March 27 at Fletcher Opera Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E South Street, Raleigh. Tickets range from $35 to $84 and can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com.

Logan A. White is a Teens & 20s writer and a home-schooled high school graduate. She currently trains in Cary Ballet Conservatory’s professional program.

This entry was posted in Entertainment, frontpage, Opinion, To Do. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.