Saturday, March 3, 2012


Last night Columbia, South Carolina was invaded by Pirates (who knew the Congaree was deep enough!), but instead of stealing booty, they delivered a sparkling treasure to the ballet-going public. Indeed, Radenko Pavlovich's Columbia Classical Ballet gave a beautiful, exciting performance of Le Corsaire, probably one of the best ballets this reviewer has witnessed in person. With tickets graciously provided through Lucretia Mack (via Katherine Macedon), my boys and I experienced a delightful evening of dance. Although my knowledge and understanding of ballet is still in its infancy, I thought the show wonderful, especially the middle scene, with its glorious costumes and backdrops, and almost the entire cast on stage in motion.

The undisputed captain of this ship, and outright star in the eyes of Columbia, was Brooklyn Mack, whose presence on stage (as Ali) absolutely alters the atmosphere in the audience. I think he could walk out and just stand there, and Columbians would go crazy for their native son, who now dances principally with the Washington Ballet. His masculine grace, precision, and soaring leaps never fail to capture bounteous adulation, and the loudest cheers are always reserved for him. Columbians turn out for him when he comes for a visit. I have seen Mack dance this role before (often at Lifechance), but it was even better to see it with a full cast and in relation to the story. But Mack was not the only star of the evening, especially in this ballet which gives the boys plenty of opportunities to shine. Cuban-born Christopher Miro was very good as Conrad. Ivan Popov gave a solid performance as Lankendem, and he always dances well in tandem with Lauren Frere (Guinare). My friend Zolton Boros was a delightfully comic presence as Seyd. Company veteran Oleksandr Vykhrest was great as Birbanto. There were not enough roles for every guy to star, but Willie Moore and Jose Pereira stood out as well as pirates.

Let's not forget the beautiful ballerinas. Besides Lauren, who has graced our stage as a principal for a few years, was newcomer Tamako Miyazaki, who was wonderful in her role as Medora. She was especially great in her pairing with Brooklyn. Although I can't name them all here, company regulars such as Natalie Robinson, Mercedes Schindler, Saif Wilkes-Davis, Katherine Jaco, and Emma Stratton were wonderful. Along with familiar faces, both men and women, were many new dancers who I hope grace our stage for years to come.

The other star of the evening was the gorgeous set (and costumes), borrowed from the Washington Ballet. No doubt much praise has to go to the crew that transported and installed it. Pavlovich has been bringing new ballets for us to enjoy, and training new generations of dancers (as well as inspiring children through the outreach program), and I hope people continue to financially support this important resource in the Midlands.

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