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Verb Ballets bringing ‘Elements’ to Akron Civic

3/20/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

Shown are Verb Ballet dancers Jarrod Sickles and Stephanie Krise. Verb Ballets will perform March 27 at 8 p.m. at the Akron Civic Theatre.
Photo: Mark Horning
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Verb Ballets is returning to the main stage at the Akron Civic Theatre March 27 at 8 p.m. in an intimate cabaret setting to perform its modern ballet production “The Elements.”

Using the notions of earth, wind, air and fire, the dance group intends to sweep onto the stage and light up the theater with a solid, breath-taking performance.

The company appeared before with great success a year ago with the dancers and audience members both on stage.

“The unique opportunity at the Civic provides the community a chance to be immersed in the action and see the dancers up close,” said Director Margaret Carlson. “It is wonderful to hear how much people enjoy being part of the experience when they get to sit on stage.”

According to company officials, the program will feature two new works by Verb Ballets’ Associate Director Richard Dickinson (who performed with Ohio Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the Boston Ballet). It also will bring a revival of a Heinz Poll ballet (he was the founder of the Ohio Ballet and is the namesake of the annual Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival at which Verb Ballets appears regularly). Lastly, the dance troupe will present a collaborative work led by company dancer Sara Whale.

Setting up his dance with the idea of singing songs around a campfire out on the range, Dickinson will present “Cowboy Soul.” According to company officials, it is described as a new playful ballet that combines the swagger of motion picture legend John Wayne alongside the discipline of classical ballet and shapes the whole concept to the instrumental versions of the greatest cowboy songs.

The far west setting is not as strange as it might seem for the choreographer. Dickinson grew up in Arizona and California, where these songs were part of his experience. According to company officials, he sought to challenge himself to create a light-hearted ballet to the iconic songs of the west.

Verb Ballets will revive what the company describes as the lighter than air duet from Poll’s “Wings and Aires.” The pas de deux with modern movements is a Poll classic set to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 4.” The work will seem familiar to audience members who attended Ohio Ballet concerts in the past or who have seen some performances of Verb Ballets, a company noted for keeping alive important past dance works.

Lastly, Verb Ballets is collaborating to present, officials have said, an original work inspired by the largest earthly mammals, whales, which will be set to composer George Crumb’s “Vox Balaenae.” Arranged by Whale, the dancers will interpret the evocative and unusual timbres to create a vivid oceanic imagery that is both majestic and serene, according to company officials.

To round out the evening, Dickinson will present the Akron premiere of a new work of his that is inspired by the historic final voyage of the coal-fired ship the SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior. Anyone who remembers the great folk song by Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot will know exactly the story being told. The dance is set to an original composition by Geoffrey Peterson. According to company officials, the works paint a vivid and haunting portrait of the legendary and mysterious shipwreck. Company officials said the ballet follows the tragic story of the ship embarking and the battle invoked by gale-force winds. It ends by paying homage to the ship’s 29 crewmen who lost their lives that day.

Tickets cost $25 or $5 for students (with valid identification) and are available through the Civic Box Office at 330-253-2488 or www.akroncivic.com. The Civic Theatre is located at 182 S. Main St.

 

Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and board director of the Dance Critics Association. To contact him, email r.durbin@sbcglobal.net.

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