Courtesy of Brooklyn Mack and his mother, as well as the facilitation of my coworker Katherine, Chimo and I happily attended the 2015 Lifechance, a celebration of dance, Mack, and the Columbia Classical Ballet, in which the Finlay scholars benefited as well. By a fortunate quirk of luck we were down on the ground floor and had wonderful seats and sight lines. Not only that, but I was able to park closer than I have ever been able to and we had just enjoyed a great dinner at Little Pig. Lucretia generously took time away from her son and friends to come over and chat with us after the show, which was special (no doubt people were wondering how we rated). Renata showed up and I got a hug; hadn't seen her in a while. Got to say hello to Myra. Missed out on seeing Zoltan, who is one of the few remaining dancers that I know personally. And afterwards the boy and I got sorbet/gelato in Five Points. A very nice night of entertainment indeed.
But it was a rather unusual Lifechance, with a small spate of irregularities. Before seating was announced I got a little doused when a Koger Center high-pressure waterpipe burst in the men's room. The sound people had troubles with their system (it was funny to hear someone yelling, "What's going on!"). Three dancers stumbled, a somewhat high rate for such a skilled group, though I know it happens sometimes. In fact, I am amazed it doesn't happen more often, as the physical demands of this art are incredible. I really felt sorry for them, though they all recovered as gracefully as possible. The corps only danced one selection (not counting the finale); there were fewer presentations, a total of seven; and we regretfully only got to see Brooklyn do his signature piece from Le Corsaire. If it were humanly possible, I suspect the crowd would wish to see him in every number. There was a recurring clothing malfunction that mightily entertained Chimo. Even Lee Lumpkin, although she was in attendance, didn't grace the opening as she so often has, welcoming the crowd and thanking supporters. I should say here that it is a great thing that the local hospitality tax provides money for the arts. There was, however, this faint feeling of familiarity, of downsizing, or maybe laziness. In fact, unless my memory is completely failing me, many performances seemed to be reprises. Perhaps it is difficult to offer new stuff in events such as this, especially during the strenuous regular season, and it is not unusual for dancers simply to do what they know best and have practiced the most. Still, alas. . . .
Nonetheless, the dancing was wonderful, as always, showcasing our great local company and dancers from elsewhere (Boston, Charlotte, Washington), many of whom are regulars on this stage at this event. The corps presented Etudes by Frederic Chapin, a beautiful but not too daring offering that frequent attendees will remember. The men in the corps seemed much shorter than in the past, not unexpectedly when there are so many Asian dancers, but they did a pretty good job. I loved the long lines of South Korean dancer Sehyun Jin, the delicate Sakura Oka from Japan; both lead Japanese male dancers were good, I thought. Many countries besides the United States were represented, including Canada, Hong Kong, and Hungary. Sadly I don't think there were any Brazilians or Russians. The only other performance in the first half was Tamas Krizsa and Mika Onuki's Last Days. Despite being forced to hold their opening pose for quite a while, they delivered their wonderful modernist piece. Though I like classical material, I also enjoy seeing modern stuff as well.
I think my favorite dance of the evening was Last Lost Chance, a beautiful, athletic, modern duet featuring Anna Gerberich and Pete Leo Walker. Krizsa and Onuki took a second turn, doing Together Apart (which I think I have seen before), and it was very nice. The always lovely Lia Cirio performed the White Swan Pas De Deux, and I seemed to concentrate on her delicate and distinct head and facial positions, as well as her hands. Delightful. She was partnered with Lasha Khozashvili. Ji Young Chi and Jeffery Cirio danced Flames of Paris. Finally, along with Ashley Ellis, Brooklyn took the stage for his adoring fans, displaying his athleticism and skill. Always a pleasure. He has been so generous to this community and we love him. This is a great annual event that deserves continued support.