As Radenko Pavlovich and the Columbia Classical Ballet have done for fifteen years, on Saturday night they reprised community favorite LifeChance (International Gala of the Stars), combining the presentation of a variety of styles which benefit both local dance followers and charity, in this case Big Brothers Big Sisters. The interesting dichotomy of classic performances and modern renditions were much appreciated by the large crowd, which was bigger than I have remembered. Almost all of the performers have danced here before. I wish there had been more dances, but we are so lucky to have this wonderful event every year. The crowd also reflected the fact that LifeChance (as are most CCB shows) is accessible to a wide range of patrons, from the well-heeled to families and students.
Most attendees, it seems, come especially to see hometown favorite Brooklyn Mack, presently of the Washington (D.C.) Ballet, who again did not disappoint with his athleticism, grace, and energy. The capitol crowd is lucky to have him up there; I could easily watch him dance all night. His selection from Lacrymosa was beautiful and inspiring, and elicited the usual enthusiastic response from the audience. Although my memory may be off, I remember seeing him dance the selection from Don Quixote before, but it was still great, especially his soaring, powerful leaps behind his beautiful partner, Maki Onuki, who is lovely and enjoyable to watch as well (sue me, cause I am a sucker for the Japanese ballerinas). Yet, despite my admiration and love of his work, I think Brooklyn seemed just a bit off, maybe a little tired, in some of his performace.
The show, however, belonged this year to the energetic dancing of Chanel DaSilva and Dylan G-Bowley, who especially wowed the crowd with Surrender. Last year I thought DaSilva slightly outshone her partner, but this time they were equally matched and highly entertaining. I remember seeing Wild Sweet Love last year, but it was likewise a crowd favorite. Their style is brisk, funny, and athletic; it reminds me of watching swing dancers from Harlem. Also returning to Columbia were Lia Cirio and James Whiteside, of the Boston Ballet, who combined traditional dance in La Bayadere with a little lighted flash in Indestructible (which my boys called Tron). I really enjoyed the elegant Lauren Ciobanu (with Joseph Walsh) in the selection from Madame Butterfly. Jeffrey Cirio (brother to Lia) was very good in Fleeting. Great Galloping Gottschalk by USC dancers Ashley Johannsen, McCree O’Kelley, and Ryan Thomas, was interesting, but in the choreography the guys didn’t seem to have much to do.
The CCB corps presented two nice dances, Essence and You Don’t Own Me. I thought both were well done, though not as spectacular as they could have been. Perhaps the outfits in the first dance could have been a little more exciting, but I loved the red on black of the second. Lauren Frere and Ivan Popov were featured in Essence, as well as in a piece of their own, Manon, which was theatrical. I thought the company did a good job, especially despite being robbed of practice time due to bad weather. Thanks to Myra for remembering me and the boys. My favorite memory of the night was watching Joey react to the dancers, occasionally turning to me and critiquing, “that was really nice” or “she didn’t seem to be trying too hard on that one.”