See the seasons soar: Carolina Ballet’s view of Vivaldi

By Logan A. White
Times-News correspondent 

   Get swept away in a fresh whirlwind of seasonal interpretation and nature-inspired expression — Carolina Ballet’s “Vivaldi’s Four Seasons” is now performing at Fletcher Opera Theater, 2 E. South Street, Raleigh.
Sliding right into the swing of spring, Carolina Ballet leaps into March with a refreshing display of technical and artistic radiance. The evening begins with the premiere of “Ravel Piano Trio,” the newest work of resident choreographer Zalman Raffael. Ceated to the multifaceted music of composer Maurice Ravel, Piano Trio is an abstract work set on eight dancers, a simplistic, natural-feeling dance in four movements.
   While the first and final movements are group dances that flow and ebb like the tide, employing synchrony and syncopation, the second and third movements are rooted in the music. Margaret Severin-Hansen and Marcelo Martinez make a lovely couple in the second movement, which has all the exuberance and fleeting motion of Balanchine. It’s almost as if they fill the entire stage with every step, soaring to new heights with every sweet note of the violin. In stark contrast, the third movement is an adage, a grounded, lamenting reflection of the cello’s deep aria. Two couples mirror the movements of each other, moving with ponderous precision and thoughtful grace. The entire dance is a blend of classical and contemporary ballet, an original use of space and sound.
“Vivaldi’s Four Seasons,” a work of art by artistic director Robert Weiss, comprises the second half of the performance. Set to the iconic violin concertos of Antonio Vivaldi, Four Seasons is a brilliant interpretation of the natural patterns and changes of our world. Spring dawns bright and clear, bringing the unbridled joy and greenness of a new beginning. Featuring Lilyan Vigo Ellis and Richard Krusch in a slower, reflective pas de deux, this season reveals the enthusiasm and uncertain growth of spring.
Summer, much like the sun, is unassuming at first, morphing into a seductive, powerful heat. Yevgeny Shlapko, accompanied by four ballerinas, shifts from the oppressive heat of midday to a deep violet thunderstorm, embodying the season’s unpredictable moodiness. As the angry purple of thunder fades into the pale lavender of Autumn, the meandering breeze sweeps in the crisp comfort of fall. Five couples drift around the stage, evoking thoughts of spinning leaves and evening strolls before fading into the chilly twilight just before the approach of winter. The final season is perhaps the most exciting, with all the shivering sharpness of Winter. Sokvannara Sar, Rammaru Shindo, and Nikolai Smirnov capture the arctic virtuosity of the season, flying across the stage as if it were ice and bringing the beginnings of a blizzard.
Portraying familiar and fresh sides of nature, “Vivaldi’s Four Seasons” is an artistic discovery of a natural routine. “Ravel Piano Trio” is the perfect accompaniment, inspiring thoughts of the physical world and its mechanics. Together, they make for a display of technical uniqueness and unhindered interpretation of our everyday surroundings that can be enjoyed by all theatergoers.
“Vivaldi’s Four Seasons” is being performed now through March 26 at Fletcher Opera Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E South Street, Raleigh. Show times are 2 p.m. today; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. March 18; 2 p.m. March 19; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. March 25 and 2 p.m. March 26. Tickets range from $40 to $89 and can be purchased at or by calling 800-745-3000.

Logan A. White is a home-schooled junior and a Teens & 20s writer.

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