The recent rain kept it relatively cool and sent a lovely breeze through Trinity Park Pavilion on Thursday night for the opening of Ballet Concerto’s 32nd annual Summer Dance Concert. And that wasn’t the only thing about the experience that could be described with the adjective “breezy.”
Even with some riveting moments of drama, this year’s event was as light and fluffy as a meringue atop a lemon pie.
It began with a tribute to Christine Marie Hay, a Texas Christian University alumna and choreographer who had created 10 works for Ballet Concerto, and died at age 53 last year. Webster Dean put together scenes from three of those ballets, Gershwin Gold, Woodstock and most prominently, Let the Good Times Roll. The “Guinevere” movement from Woodstock felt a bit out of place thematically, but was unified by Hay’s movement and featured a strong turn from Courtney Sebastian Dotson in the title role.
In “Red Top,” from Let the Good Times Roll, Whitney Hart was an ebullient temptress on pointe for a trio of gents; and Ruben Gerding and Caradee Cline’s pas de deux in “Fever” was lovely.
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Shea Johnson and Michele Gifford were typically stunning in the Sylvia pas de deux, choreographed by Paul Mejia, giving the dancers the fireworks numbers to match the actual fireworks happening a few miles away near downtown.
There was a more serious tone for Luis Montero’s Bolero, set to Ravel’s famous composition of repeating themes. Mixing ballet and flamenco — a calling card for Montero and Ballet Concerto — Perla Montoya brought her usual fierceness and poise to the flamenco parts, but this time she was matched by the group’s ballet star, Shea Johnson, as a matador doing gorgeous work with a cape and the other dancers as bulls.
The company’s synchronicity and sense of ensemble was best during this work. As the music rose to the climactic finish, the onstage action matched it, ending with a full stage of dancers and plenty of flair.
It couldn’t get any breezier than the note on which the concert ended, Massine’s Gaite Parisienne, restaged by Kirt Hathaway and Webster Dean. In this light piece about love and heartbreak, Johnson and Gifford play the Baron and Glove Seller who naturally end up together; but the star was Gerding as a passionate Peruvian with excellent comic timing and the wild facial expressions to match.
A special nod goes to Charlotte Richter and Beth Thomasson (coordinated by Susan Lavallee) for costumes, especially in Gaite and Bolero.
Ballet Concerto’s remaining Summer Dance Concert performances might just be the coolest place — in both definitions of the word — to hang out this weekend.