Had the flow of tears and love displayed after the performance of Aladdin on Friday night actually watered a desert, an oasis surely would surely have bloomed. Although crying is normal for the last show of the season, in this case the tears were shed in sadness for the large number of beloved dancers who are leaving Columbia Classical Ballet for new opportunities and to return to their homes. (See my last post). Renata, Waldilei, Akari, Kaori, Riiko, Zoltan, and Kazuki (all good dancers and even better people) will be missed. I loved watching them on stage. It was hard for me not to join the waterworks.
Oh, yeah. . . the show itself was very nice, despite a few missed parts (in which ad libbing ensued), an occasional muffed lift, a slightly awkward landing. Aladdin was full of color and movement, and it was a real delight. Cudos for whomever painted the backdrops, because they were beautiful. Overall, the costumes were very nice (well, ok, I wasn't all that wild about the peasant smocks), especially those of the ballerinas (after the opening scenes). I thought the white headresses on the peasant guys, however, looked a bit like mammy caps (think GWTW). These minor distractions aside, I thought the dancing was wonderful and the crowds seemed to enjoy both shows. I was worried that children during the outreach performance might not stay with it, but they remained captivated, and it is a wonderful thing to have youngsters getting an introduction to the arts.
The best performance (for me) was put on by Waldelei Goncalves as the genie (in the morning session). I have watched him dance for three years, and he never really got the opportunity to shine like he did in this show (although he was good in all his shows), but he was perfect in this role and he really danced wonderfully. . .expressive, strong and sprightly, and clearly enjoying himself on the stage. He seemed to be having more fun than almost anyone. Although he claims it is his last time (he will turn instead to teaching) , I hope he relents and keeps on dancing, at least a little bit. He and Renata are such warm spirits and ambassadors for dance, and legions of youngsters will benefit from working with them.
The regulars were great too. Lauren, Kaori, and Akari were beautiful, as usual. There were times when a few dancers seemed to be going through the motions, as enthusiasm lagged (particularly in the second show), but no doubt that was a result of burdened hearts and weighing down spirits. It is the first time I recall seeing Aladdin, and some parts were hard to follow (I thought it was odd they used a metal pail in the first scene), but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I suspect dance critics with more experience than myself might find things to complain about, but I was delighted. And there were little parts (miscues) that made me smile. As when, during the rehearsal the ballerinas got their jewel baskets messed up and hilarity followed. Or when a younger dancer strayed out from the wings and gestured wildly to the other side, I guess because someone missed a cue. I keep telling my son that mistakes are part of dance, in fact, are part of every artistic endeavor, and that when one is made, the performer should just carry on as if nothing unusual happened. He will learn. Joey had a small part, but I thought he did well. He was critical of himself (grading himself as a C in the morning, a B+ at night), which shows me that he is aware that he has much to learn, but that he felt good on the stage. All the kids did well. When the littlest tots (as always, a crowd favorite), in their green outfits clamored out for their part, I quipped to a parent backstage, "There goes Pavlovich's Thundering Herd! (think Marshall University)." They were so cute.
OK, now it is time for me to find my Kleenex! :) I know there will be many more great dancers to see and meet in the future, but I will really miss this ensemble.