Performing Arts: Dance
March 26, 2018
The work exhibited by Michele Wiles’ company BalletNEXT in their series of world premiers was replete with talented young dancers with beautiful extension, graceful energy and articulate footwork. However, the element that shined brightest in this production was in fact the show’s lighting design, composed by Brandon Stirling Baker.

In the opening piece, titled The Pianist, a spotlight glows gently on a sleek, black piano set upstage center. Placed against a white Marley sprung floor, the nude pale-rose hue emanating from the scene’s backdrop illuminates the pianist and the company of young ladies clad in black turtlenecks and pink skirts, impeccably matching the tone of the light’s design. Kudos goes to Michele Wiles, Victoria Bek and Amanda Bouza for their stellar work in costume design and coordination.

The inviting pale-rose shifts to a gentle blue for the next work, titled ‘Experience’. Choreographically this duet between dancers Violetta Komyshan and Natalie Stys made excellent use of the stage and smartly showcased the versatility of the performers. A nod, again, to the costume coordination of this piece, the slate blue leotards working in tandem with the gentle pastel shade of the lighting design.

A hat goes off to the third world premier of the evening, ‘Follin’, choreographed by Wiles and guest choreographer Bailey Anne Vincent. As lovely as the movement was, the facial grammar of American Sign Language was lacking in both the choreography done by the hearing dancers and the ASL interpreter.

Vincent, as a Deaf woman, naturally retained and exhibited the integral facial expressions of her language, however, when blended with ballet, the incorporated ASL seemed to take a backseat to the dance. Contrapuntally, Vincent worked wonderfully with the BalletNEXT crew and left the audience wanting more of her true representation of the dance of American Sign Language.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Brandon Kazen-Maddox

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