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Serenade & New Works 2013 - Full Review Part 1 By CWB Office

Central West opened with its last Gallo Center performances of the season with panache, presenting a Balanchine ballet for the first time in its history. George Balanchine, who co-founded the New York City Ballet, is known for establishing an American classical style of dance. Considered the father of neoclassical dance during the 20th century, Balanchine went on to create numerous masterpieces such as Apollo, and The Four Temperaments. His first ballet in America, Serenade, a small portion which CWB obtained was presented with much fanfare. With an impressive rise of the main curtain, along with Tchaikovsky's superb music, the audience was introduced to 17 stunning ballerinas in long lyrical tutus, all moving in unison. Sharp, defined and inspired, the dancers of Central West proved beyond any doubt that they were ready for such a masterpiece. The cast was repeated on Saturday, with the exception of two soloist appearances by Elease Stice and Paige Brown. Both Principals turned in beautiful and precise performances, keeping with the Balanchine style and purity. This portion of Serenade was a pleasure to see, even if too short of a delight for the audience, who was certainly left wanting more.

Next was a solo by Artistic Director René Daveluy entitled The Mythologians. Danced by Brandon Phelps, the piece was unusual and lightly complemented the neoclassicism of Serenade, in part because of a slight reminiscence to Balanchine's classic ballet Apollo. The music, composed by Daveluy, was a first for the Company. Phelps, in simple white tights and bare top showed a side of his dancing seldom seen. With many arabesque lines and quick classical steps, Phelps showed great potential for the neoclassical genre. The program continued with the introduction of CWB choreographers. Nicole Firpo was first on the bill. Firpo, whose works Cool Syncopations and Whistle With Style were a hit last season, presented a contemporary trio danced by Noelle Im, Phillip Riskin and Aaron Gulevich. Set to a baroque take on Adele's Skyfall, the trio entitled Bonded moved well onstage, with Im exercising her growing maturity as a young leading dancer. Im showed grace, more extension in her lines and more stability as she was whisked away by her two handsome partners. Firpo's choreography remained classically based with lyrical contemporary movement. It was an appealing work for Noelle Im to navigate through. Next was Hurt with music by 2cellos, a Pas de Deux of the same name by Alyssa Milano. An introspective tour de force by the young choreographer, this Pas de Deux was a completely realized work from top to finish. With superbly well crafted transitions and tasteful and effective lifts. Alyssa Milano's style retains the neoclassical dance form and adds a sensual lyrisism that makes her works unique. Her choreography has the ability to captivate the audience all the way through. Hurt was expertly handled by principals Sarah Weaver and Brandon Phelps, who performed with a mixture of subtlety and power. Weaver's sharp lines and maturity flowed in the secure hands of Phelps. The two portrayed the piece accurately and vividly. On Saturday, the pairing of Gabrielle Barton and Aaron Gulevich gave the Pas de Deux a different feel, with Barton bringing her own depth to the movement.

Following this was Just Noticeable Difference with music by Ólafur Arnalds, choreographed by former Soloist Adelina Milano, which delighted the audience with its flair and slightly glamorous style. Adelina Milano's choreography was well defined, with a style all of her own. With terrific ground work and stunning intricate lifting, she conveyed a great sense of contemporary rhythms mingled with an adventurous approach that was entertaining. Adorned in a striking red dress laced with black, Elease Stice was partnered by Phillip Riskin. Both moved perfectly in rhythm together. Stice was at ease in the rich movements and showed an appeal for lyrical partnering work. This new partnership is developing well for them, with Riskin keeping pace with the ever energetic Stice. On Saturday, Alyssa Milano and Brandon Phelps brought the Pas de Deux their expertise in seamless partnering. Here, Milano danced the piece with subtlety as Phelps was his usual attentive self, flawlessly partnering her.