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Emilie Skinner, Jaclyn Brewer-Poole, Addison Reed, and Victoria Dolph-Tran

Part of the 2014 Out of the Loop Fringe Festival

Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet

WaterTower Theatre

Lea Essmyer, Julie DuBois, Katie Stasse, David Sanders, Whitney Hart, Jaclyn Brewer-Poole, Mike Stone, Dorian Hejny, Emilie Skinner, Erin Boone, Victoria Dolph Tran, and Brandon McGee

Reviewed Performance: 3/8/2014

Reviewed by Joel Taylor, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

An Evening with DNCB (Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet) presents some well-recognized ballet pieces as well as some original works from their repertoire. It is a delight to see many of the talented dancers from Contemporary Ballet Dallas’s OOTLFF presentation, Sidewalk Stories, also performing with DNCB. This production is divided into two acts with an intermission in between.

The festival’s playbill did not include the entire performance’s pieces:

1. Carmen – with Lea Essmyer
2. Gamzatti – with Julie DuBois
3. La Deesse de la Terre – Choreography by Emilie Skinner – with Katie Stasse and David Sanders
4. Paquita – with Whitney Hart
5. The Garden – Choreography by Jaclyn Brewer Poole – with Jaclyn Brewer Poole, Mike Stone, Lea Essmyer, Whitney Hart, Julie DuBois, Dorian Hejny and Emilie Skinner
6. Fractured Night – Choreography by Addison Reed – with Lea Essmyer, Erin Boone and Katie Stasse
7. Constellations – Choreography by Victoria Dolph Tran – with Whitney Hart, Dorian Hejny and Victoria Dolph Tran
8. Black Swan – with Katie Stasse and David Sanders
9. Diana – with Brandon McGee and Jaclyn Brewer-Poole
10. Prelude – with Victoria Dolph Tran
11. Raymonda – with Katie Stasse
12. Yakhalo – Choreography by Emilie Skinner – with Lea Essmyer, Mike Stone, Jaclyn Brewer-Poole David Sanders and Whitney Hart

Using a bare stage, lighting changes include greens, blues, ambers and violets to create moods and settings, accentuate the music, and illuminate the incredible talents of the dancers. Their performances pulled me into each dance, from the first to the last. Though needed by the dancers to prepare for the second act, the intermission was a piece of time when I did not want to disconnect from what I was experiencing by the powerful presentations of each dancer on stage. While there were some minor bobbles and movements to remind me dancers are indeed mere mortals, in several dances, it seems as if no mortal could float, leap, bow and bend as they do. The dancers present a variety of stories that evoke deep emotion.

Beginning with a strong piece from Carmen that highlights the strengths of the dancer, each dance powers forward with a balance of strength and lightness. Several of the pieces are unexpectedly short, though this may be because the dancers are so compelling that time really does seem suspended while the viewer is immersed in their performances on stage. Whether the piece contains one dancer or multiple, are all well-choreographed and performed.

The stories are told so completely and believably, even without noticing the dance’s title. During “The Garden”, while watching the two lead dancers in flesh-colored costumes and one dancer in red, moving sinuously in the background, my thought was that this story is about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

The performance concludes on an artistically powerful note with “Yakhalo”, an original piece. Once you’ve seen this, you will understand why it is chosen for the finale in that it incorporates finesse, power and grace with perfectly timed choreography and deceptive strength of each dancer.

One of the many things I appreciate about this dance company is the dedication to the craft, and the passion for the dance that is apparent in each dancer. The standard stereotype that only tall, skinny people can be dancers is disregarded in this company. The dancers with Dallas Neo Classical Ballet are all incredibly skilled and are, well, real people, dedicated to developing and sharing their considerable talents with other real people.

Time and again, I was pulled into the world of An Evening with DNCB through the connection the dancers have with their characters and with their partner, whether two or more, when onstage together. Each individual piece is worth the cost of admission. To be able to see all of them in one session would be worth the cost of the festival pass, even if to see this production multiple times. Watching these dancers is both entertaining and inspiring.