Intimate and inventive, the Kansas City Ballet’s “New Moves” choreographic showcase is the perfect opportunity to see the company’s dancers from a different perspective. It’s a chance to see them as originators, not interpreters, as more than just excellent technicians, but also as creators.
Additionally, the audience at Saturday’s performance in the Michael and Ginger Frost Studio Theater in the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity was close enough to read subtleties in expression, to see the sweat, to hear the dancers breathing heavily in the wings after vigorous sequences (as well as, after an especially successful performance, deservedly cheering themselves — and being shushed — as they exited backstage).
The show included six world premiere works, three from members of the company and three from guest choreographers. Simple costumes came from the ballet’s costume shop and lighting design by Amy Taylor effectively enhanced each work.
The company was excellently represented.
Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye’s “Cantilena” was a well-crafted duet of serene, continuous motion performed by Kaleena Burks and Liang Fu to Frederic Chopin’s Nocturne in E minor.
Sarah Chun created a muscular, arresting work in “Catch” for five lithe, strong dancers, with exceptional solos (Michael Davis, Lilliana Hagerman, Yoshiya Sakurai) and an impressive duo with spinning catch by Jolicoeur-Nye and Molly Wagner.
Charles Martin’s “Figments,” with original music by Federico Mejia, was the most narrative, employing Angelina Sansone’s acting ability. She projected sorrowful self-doubt and nuanced partnering with Geoffrey Kropp against a female quartet as chorus/antagonist.
Guest artist Andrew Skeels’ “Seven Bridges” was a movement objet d’art, abstract and sculptural, with dancers responding to one another’s touch in a series of seemingly awkward, acrobatic movements made beautiful through controlled, seamless and deliberate slow motion sequences. A live performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Trio No. 1 gave the work additional gravitas, supplemented with the interesting aural feature of (one assumes) deliberately squeaky socks.
Two guest works featured men exclusively.
Jennifer Archibald’s “The Better Man” quartet played a sophisticated shirts vs. skins, one pair combatant, the other empathetic, as they mirrored and manipulated one another’s movements.
Stephanie Martinez’s “In Close Proximity” matched classical and street aesthetics, contrasting loose, shrugged shoulders with stylized gestures in individualized break-out solos and duets that were both intense and gentle.
The concert also included an opening act by the ballet’s second company. The flirty multi-part work choreographed by Anthony Krutzkamp created a vintage nightclub vibe with music from Pink Martini.
The Kansas City Ballet’s “New Moves” continues Thursday, April 7, through Saturday, April 9, at the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity, 500 W. Pershing Road. For more information, call 816-931-8993 or go to kcballet.org.