Manassas Ballet Theatre Provides Diverse, ‘Fantasque’ Performance

‘In Music We Move,’ choreographed by Christina Franco by the Manassas Ballet Theatre.

Those looking to experience a fantastic evening have to look no further than the Hylton Performing Arts Center to see the Manassas Ballet Theatre [MBT], which produces a variety of ballets throughout the season.

The Manassas Ballet Theatre delivered an enchanting performance with ‘Fantasque Evening’ at the Hylton Center in Manassas, March 8-10. It included live accompaniment by the Manassas Ballet Symphony Orchestra.

If you have not yet seen a performance by the Manassas Ballet, I highly recommend it. The professional company includes members who have studied and performed in cities over all the country.

Artistic Director Amy Grant Wolfe created a unique performance that showcased the company’s range. The two-part arrangement featured the full company in the traditional, family-friendly ‘La Boutique Fantastique,’ a French ballet about dolls that come to life.

That performance was juxtaposed with the premiere of modern ballet pieces choreographed by company members Christina Franco, Debora Greer and Pamela Kubiak, along with Wolfe.

‘La Boutique Fantastique (The Magic Toyshop)’ is a light-hearted ballet about a 19th-century toy shop in which the dolls come alive at night; a kind of ‘Nutcracker’ meets ‘Toy Story.’ Expertly executed choreography, story, costumes, music and acting conspire to make the show fun, animated and humorous.

A scene from the Manassas Ballet Theatre’s La Fantasque Boutique choreographed by Artistic Director Amy Grant Wolfe.

Can-can Dolls, Joshua Burnham and Caroline Linehan perform to festive music for the store customers in playful mechanical manners, dancing along with Tarantella, Marzurka and Russian doll.

When the toyshop owner, played by company member and choreographer Vadim Slatvitskiy, falls asleep, and the dolls secretly dance while humorously poking at him. Slatvitskiy’s slap-stick response has the audience laughing.

The performance moves quickly. The playful dances entertain while keeping the attention of modern audiences, including children of all ages. The MBT dancers performed flawlessly throughout so that the illusion was easily maintained.

And while ‘La Boutique Fantastique’ has a clearly defined narrative, the three shorter pieces operate like poetry, inviting the audience to create their own interpretations based upon visual imagery and tone.

The performances also display a wider array of emotion including joy, love and loss. The ballet-stylings borrow from modern dance, making them more athletic, gymnastic, interpretive and relevant to modern sensibilities.

Scene from ‘Light and Dark within Us’ by Pamela Kubiak.

‘In Music We Move,’ choreographed by Christina Franco, began with three spritely dancers invoking springtime and rebirth via costumes and music by Giovanni Battista Sammartini.

The dance between the men and women features classical ballet positions all the while demonstrating the athletic ability of the dancers – their strength and stamina – through modern dance. The mood changes throughout from spritely to sad, returning to cheerful once again.

‘Ties Between Us,’ choreographed by Debora Greer to music by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov, has a more mysterious and feminine feel. The dancers dress in romantic hues to create a dark secretive ambiance.

‘Light and Dark Within Us,’ by Pamela Kubiak, is divided into two parts: ‘Joy and Light’ and ‘Into the Darkness.’ The ballet pieces play upon similar themes, incorporating a variety of dance styles that the select company members seamlessly executes. “I chose my dancers for their unique qualities,” said Kubiak.

The last part of the first series was a sneak peek at energetic and moving ‘Chasing Light’ a multimedia collaboration with area artists, choreographed by Artistic Director Amy Grant Wolfe.

“The piece centers around ever-changing light and our desire to find it, as well as the music itself,” Wolfe said.

The dynamic ‘Chasing Light’ features an original score by Texas composer Mark Menza. It will premier in full during the One Love Manassas Arts Festival, April 26– 28.

The performance at Manassas Ballet Theatre provided an entertaining performance and is something that every resident of the Manassas and Prince William region should experience at least once. Lovers of the performing arts may want to purchase season tickets.

MBT is a testament to the fact that does not have to drive towards D.C. to experience the best in performing arts in the region. The inclusion of live orchestral music from The Manassas Ballet Symphony Orchestra enhances the quality and authenticity of the performance.

‘Ties Between Us’ choreographed by Debora Greer performed by the Manassas Ballet Theatre.

Manassas Ballet Theatre’s 15th Annual Ballet Ball is March 30 at 6:30-10 p.m. in the Gregory Theatre of the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

Manassas Ballet Theatre next ballet is Sleeping Beauty to be performed at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, May 17-18. Tickets are available through Hylton Center. Please visit www.manassasballet.org for information and ticket discounts. 

About Manassas Ballet Theatre

Manassas Ballet Theatre is a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation founded in 1983. Our mission is to enhance the quality of life in Northern Virginia by providing accessible, affordable professional ballet performances, educational outreach to the community, and the highest caliber of training to students of all levels at the affiliated school, Manassas Ballet Academy.

MBT is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Commission of the Arts, Prince William County and the City of Manassas, and is the resident ballet company of the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Manassas campus of George Mason University. For tickets and information, please visit manassasballet.org

© 2019, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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