Northeast Ballet dances Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Nutcracker" at Proctors.
Four years ago was the last time I saw Northeast Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker.” At the time, I praised its dancers for ushering in a more mature, professional looking production.
The same could be said about this year’s holiday classic, but more so. From the seats in Proctors, I can see that Artistic Director Darlene Myers’ efforts to attract more boys to her school has paid off. It’s gratifying to see a local production able to cast actual boys in boys roles, which is a rarity for many regional dance studios. But it’s not just the boys. All of Northeast Ballet’s dancers fill their roles with aplomb.
Here are some of the best moments from the Tchaikovsky ballet.
Lucas Rodriguez is superb in the title role. As the wooden soldier that Clara loves, Rodriguez is sharp as he salutes and marches about the stage, the embodiment of the perfect recruit – strong and upright.
The snow scene is always precious because it is the Clara’s transition from the warmth of the family home to the cooling tingle of adventure. While Adrienne Canterna and Barton Cowperthwaite show off their technical prowess in the snow pas, it is the Snow Queen, Alexandra Lindsay, and her crystals and corps de ballet that made this scene a cyclone of sparkling blue beauty. Together, the dancers are with each other every step of the way, dancing collectively in one gorgeous swirl.
Canterna and Cowperthwaite return to dazzle with their acrobatics as the leads in the Arabian divertissement. Their exotic twists and tumbles quicken hearts.
Also delicious, in the Magic Kingdom of the Sweets are the Russians with Luca Spadinger in a series of bouncing straddle jumps and Bruce Williams as Mother Ginger, the big bosom flirt with too many children.
Myers also inserts many enchanting touches that are exclusive to her production: the flaming book, Uncle Drosselmeyer’s smoky rise from the depth and Bonnie, the patience, obedient horse who carries Clara on her excursion to the world beyond.
Of course, making the production even more special is the inclusion of two favorite dancers from the region’s favorite ballet company – Lauren Lovette and Andrew Veyette from New York City Ballet. Lovette is always a crowd-pleasure as she takes and projects so much joy in the ballet’s grand pas de deux. And Veyette, a last minute replacement for Gonzalo Garcia, is one of today’s most masterful cavaliers – able, caring and refined. Together, they are gold – spun for the audience’s pleasure.
The show will be repeated today at 2 p.m. at Proctors in Schenectady.
In a lightless room, the senses are heightened. That shutting down of sight especially perks the ears. And that’s how an audience sat on Saturday night at MassMoCA’s showing of “Listening to Walls Wear Off Their Color.”
This haunting work-in-progress, created in just a few days at sprawling museum for contemporary art, was a byproduct of the vivid imaginations of director Maya Zbib, choreographer Lee Serle (both of whom performed) and conceptual artist Mateo Lopez.
The piece, though still in its earliest stages, transported viewers to an alternative realm where time is not linear and one’s mind is a flashpoint of memories, mostly of loss of home and loved ones, and readjusting in unknown land. It was an ode to refuges, uprooted and sent to an unfamiliar city where they were isolated, literally boxed in by their language, their look and their culture. But it was also about the universal need to love, to seek out and touch fellow humans.
“Listening to Walls” began in total darkness with the sound of a synthetically created hum. The audience sat like that for what seems like an eternity, until we heard a voice. It was Zbib. She said “the city awakens.” Then in a quiet, controlled, but strong tone, she spilled out shards of a life’s moments: the home’s rattled windows from explosions, the sewing kit in one’s bag, the recipes you wrote for your son and sleeping in the bottom deck of a ship.
Together, it created a sense of a woman who is forced to leave and seek a safe haven.
When the lights finally rise, we see three figures (Serle and dancers Simon Courchel and Jin Ju Song-Begin) and three upright box structures. Serle hangs out of his, either sleeping or dead. The other two are standing inside these coffin like builds – Song-Begin facing outward, but Courchel half-hidden.
To a limpid electronic soundscape designed by John Torres and Zbib’s guiding voice, the dancers come to life and effortlessly wheel their boxes about their world silently. They walk their structures, combining and reconfiguring them again and again to create rooms and outdoor spaces in which the dancers appeared either to be vulnerable or shielded.
Throughout Zbib spoke of the woman, lost in a foreign city and in love with a stranger. In episodic clips, she told of her search for him, his adverted eyes and her sense of his closeness. The intimacy was striking.
Toward the end, the three were together, holding hands inside one of their arranged box clusters. But their proximity ended with Serle flat on the floor again and Song-Begin arched lifeless atop of him. Courchel walked away from it all. But as he left, he hesitated and turned back to the heartbreaking carnage of xenophobic loneliness.
Stella Abrera danced the "Nutcracker" grand pas de deux with Alexandre Hammoudi at Kaatsbaan's 28th annual gala.
Kaatsbaan International Dance Center’s galas are unlike any other fancy fundraising events for dance. The directors don’t get bogged down in motifs, premieres or novelties. They strive for the best.
And because the best unwinds like a spool of gold in such an intimate setting, the center’s 120-seat auditorium, audiences are struck by the power of the art not the price of ornamentation.
That’s what happened on Saturday night.
The center’s 28th annual “A Passion for Dance” featured New York Theatre Ballet in Jerome Robbins’ Grecian “Antique Epigraphs” with the peerless composer Joan Tower with Michael Scales at the piano playing the four-hands Debussy’s score. The evening also showcased the company in a pas de deux from “Such Longings” by Richard Alston as well as the “Nutracracker” grand pas de deux with American Ballet Theatre principals Stella Abrera and Alexandre Hammoudi. Legendary ballerina Martine Van Hamel performed an all-too short solo “On Performing.” Martha Graham Dance Company star Blakeley White-McGuire shattered the night with excerpts from “Cave of the Heart.” And that was followed by a knock-out world premiere choreographed by New York City Ballet principal Lauren Lovette.
It was a fantastic night.
There is hardly a squabble with anything that was done – except for maybe the lighting in “Antique Epigraphs,” which usually casts a sepia-toned shimmer on the dancers. Staged by Kyra Nichols, the eight female dancers, dressed in muted colored tunics, enthralled with Robbins’ stylized configurations that came to rest in elegant poses. They looked as if an urn has spun, pitching its bas relief figures to life. Needless to say, the music with Tower, Scales and flutist Mira Magrill was gorgeous.
Equally beautiful and moving was Steven Melendez and Amanda Treiber in “Such Longings” to Chopin’s Mazurka Op 17 No 4 and his Nocturne Op 27 No 2. Melendez, the lead male in many New York Theatre Ballet programs, has matured into a soulful dancer that brings much to the stage. The rapport with Treiber too, whom he has been partnered with for years, shows a richness and depth that often goes missing when two dancers meet.
Abrera and Hammoudi also share chemistry and daring in the grand pas de deux in the holiday favorite from Tchaikovsky. Choreographed by ABT’s Alexei Ratmansky, the pas savored the usual Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier’s elegance with a dash of sport. While a tad under rehearsed, Hammoudi missed his mark a few times, their sauciness kept everyone in the seats smiling.
Even more delightful was Lovette’s premiere of “Le Jeune” for five couples from ABT Studio Company. To Eric Whitacre’s “Equus,” the dancers flew through a frolicsome and frothy gambol that announced that Lovette is not only is a wonderful dancer, she’s also an amazing dance maker. The ballet had a retro-Balanchine look with the female dancer in leotards encircled with a belt. But it was fully-fledged contemporary creation that signaled the end of a drought for female choreographers coming out of City Ballet.
The Van Hamel short, conceived by Ann Marie De Angelo, was an ode to the joys of performing. While the prima ballerina can probably no longer whip of 32 fouettes without pain, she has not lost her glamorous sparkle.
Finally, White-McGuire held audiences in a vice as Medea in Graham’s “Cave of the Heart.” Her grip on the role, its intentions and its murderous ending was unflinching. It also reminded how modern Graham’s work remains. No one, except those in the know, could date it to 1946. White-McGuire lent it a vitality that could speak to everyone today.
Randy James is the founder and artistic director of the inventive 10 Hairy Legs.
This might sounds sexist, but there’s something about a group of men dancing together onstage. They pump more power, grab more air and shoot their authority through souls of an audience in a way that a troupe of women simply can’t.
And that’s the initial appeal of 10 Hairy Legs, an all-male ensemble of dancers. But then there is the technique – a fizzy brew of old-school modern and contact improvisation with acrobatics and marital arts. The meld is stunning to watch because the five men seize it with such natural fluidity and flair. They are like one body wrapped unto itself that is constantly undulating in ways that viewers cannot pull their eyes from.
The company, a brainchild of choreographer Randy James (a once frequent artistic guest at Skidmore College), previewed its “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” on Saturday night at the Kaatsbaan International Center for Dance. Choreographed by James, this is an atypical work as it opens the company up to female artists – five in all. It’s also a work that can appeal to children, families and those who are tepid toward dance, telling the tale from the first book from C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series.
While a preview, it’s not fair to fully review. Let’s just say the final battle series is epic. Sarah Houspian’s depiction of the White Witch is chilling and her annihilation by The Lion, danced by Alex Biegelson, and his band of faithful is triumphant.
Before it premieres, however, I hope the costumes by Abraham Cruz become more literal. I couldn’t tell the beavers from the birds. And it was Biegelson’s regal portrayal of the Lion that keyed me in on his character because he looked like the Wolf.
The music, a mix of Mozart pieces, was ideal for the tale between good and evil. The personalities of the selections, bright and bouncy and dark and disquieting, set a perfect tone for the episodic telling.
The evening also featured 10 Hairy Legs doing what they do best –interlocking and bouncing their bodies off each other in a hypnotic dance. “Trouble Will Find Me,” choreographed by Doug Elkins, is set the robust music and vocals by Pakistani artist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
The five men started off strong and kept up the heated, but playful exchange in which they started off as five independent spirits who eventually explore every open space of their fellow dancer – from ear to arm pit and through the legs. The timing at which they attack the movement is pinhead precise.
They assemble and disperse like a living puzzle. It’s fascinating and makes me and, anyone with eyes, long for more of 10 Hairy Legs.
Collage Dance Collective is a sharp ensemble that dance audiences deserve to see more of.
When I think of Memphis, I think Elvis and barbecue. Not ballet.
But I’m now certain that ballet is growing an audience in the Home of the Blues thanks to Collage Dance Collective. This ensemble of fine classical dancers who appeared at The Egg on Friday night offered an uneven program, mainly because the choreography ranged from powerful to mediocre. But none of the dancing from this octet came off as anything but strong, capable and beautiful.
The moment the dancers took the stage in “Ella Suite Ella,” it was clear the night was to showcase refined technique from committed artists. But it’s premiere of this ballet, created by Arturo Fernandez to celebrate the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth, was less than auspicious. Featuring just three songs, this suite felt undone.
The opening duet with fluid Kimberly Ho-Tsai and Daniel Cooke was liquid gold. It was followed up by a sharp, syncopated solo by ultra-focused and taut Bernard DuBois II. The choreographer brought them back for finishing trio that didn’t coalesce or say anything about the music or their relationship. It was disappointing.
Nicolo Fonte’s “Left Unsaid” was also dissatisfying, but less so. Set to a Bach on violin, the dance of with folding chairs did speak of relationships unfulfilled. And while the construction was sensible, the ballet did not emit the heat that one wants from a ballet of tangled alliances.
But throughout, the dancers lent integrity to everything they did. Even when technical problems, such as long, mysterious pauses, befell the program, or when they themselves were out of synch, the dancers shined with their purity of intention.
This served them well in two potent pieces -- “The Rate of Which I Am,” by Joshua Manculich, and “Wasteland” by Christopher Huggins.
“The Rate of Which I Am” was a disturbing piece in which the dancers, all people of color, were isolated and placed in the glare of a single spotlight. In the light, they ran, they tried to fly, they contorted and tore at their skin. It brought about thoughts of over-policing, profiling and imprisonment.
Even when they appeared under the glaring light together, they were quickly separated, showing the expelling of support for those who need it most.
A gentle duet with Daphne Lee and Rickey Flagg II gave some respite from the flight, but “The Rate of Which I Am” resonated long after the curtain came down.
Also compelling was “Wasteland,” the evening’s finale. This ensemble piece, to music by Jonsi & Alex and Savanj Rooms, felt like a spiritual awakening after nuclear destruction. The eight radiated a force that overrode the lifelessness around them. They were the world and it was a robust, redeeming one.
The evening was rounded out with “Sweet,” a work by Shawn Hounsell with music by Njo Kong Kie. This glorious series of duets with Flagg, Lee, Dubois and Luisa Cardoso was a delight.
So too was the company. I hope we seen more of them soon.
Tango Fire radiated heat at The Egg on Saturday night.
On Saturday night, Tango Fire was on fire. This body of dancers and musicians from Buenos Aires ignited The Egg stage in smoking number after number that could best be described as sex with clothes on.
This is not the first time that Tango Fire has come to The Egg. The dancers and their excellent musical ensemble ripped across the board there in 2013 and 2011. But this showcase of the original dance of Argentina stands out as its best.
Five couples and four musicians gave their all to the small audience sliding and gliding, kicking and stomping, to music that was rhythmic and pulsating. The costumes – an array of gloriously shimmering evening dresses for the women – were gorgeous. And nearly every dancer, paired with their faithful partners, was polished to perfection.
The first thing you notice about the ensemble is their grooming – slick, clean and elegant. Dressed in black and white, the men in billowing ascots, the women in sparkling skirts with their hair drawn back in tight chignons, they are the vision of elite. But it was their dancing, confident and flawless, that proves they are exceptional.
Unlike most tango showcases, the stage was not cluttered with the usual table and chair. Rather the stage was wide-open so that the dances pedaling and scissored legs, slides and tosses were unimpeded.
The phenomenal musical quartet, Quarteto Fuego, comprised of a pianist Matias Feigin, bandoneon player Hugo Satorre, violinist Gemma Scalia and bassist Facundo Benavidez. Feigin hammered the keyboard while leading the other three who rose above the dancers on a platform. The music, punctuated by the soulful clips of Satorre’s bandoneon, set the exotic tone.
Of the dancers, Eber Burger and Sabrina Nogueira were the most enchanting. Their long lines and sharp attacks and immaculate execution were captivating.
Julio Jose Seffino and Carla Dominguez displayed astonishing athleticism. Dominguez was often tossed through the air, caught in the most picturesque ways by Seffino and then swept across the stage along the floor seamlessly.
Both of these couples had dazzling style.
Sebastian Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli did not quite fit the idealized Tango Fire image. Their acrobatics were awkward and painful to watch. Their duets, especially the one in which she wore a bodysuit decorated with shimmering green designs shaped like leaves, drew whoops and gasps. But these two feel short of their companion dancers’ exquisiteness. More finish was required here.
Aside from Alvarez and Saudelli, there was nothing to criticize – except for the fact that turnout for the show was low. It’s a shame that more people couldn’t have felt the generous heat radiating off Tango Fire.
Photo by Gary Gold
The best thing about Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company is its willingness to experiment – not just on the part of its artistic director but its six dancers too.
Part of that eagerness to test its artistic stretch comes in the form of collaboration with all kinds of other artists and art. And one of the more pleasant and enduring experiments is the modern troupe’s annual showing at the Opalka Gallery at Sage College in Albany.
On Friday evening, the ensemble was cradled in the realm of a Kathryn Field’s nature paintings and figurative sculptures. There, the company unleashed its whirling sensibilities to reflect on Field’s creations with three works in the company’s repertory and six dancer-made solos that are based on Sinopoli’s “Solo Flights.”
Dancers selected certain works that spoke to them – Louisa Barta loved the glowing leaf paintings; Andre Robles, the abstract sculpture of stone and driftwood; and Laura Teeter, everything of color. These little solos, while charming and revealing of each dancers’ personality, were mere interludes for three of Sinopoli’s pieces that she restaged for an audience sitting on all four sides of the room.
What makes the Opalka evenings so intriguing is the dancers are close – toe-to-toe with the audience. In this intimate setting, the audience can feel their power, hear their breath and see with searing clarity the shapes that Sinopoli is so well known for creating.
But it is the theme of nature and the physical body – like the paintings and the sculpture -- that overrides the evening. Sinopoli wisely selected such works as “Texture of the Whole,” a work she created with physicist and University at Albany professor Keith Earle, as the ensemble opener for the evening. Here the dancers draw out concepts of physics in a series of crashes and constructions in ways that explore the beauty and force of the science.
“Clusters,” a collaboration with choreographer Rob Kitsos, was also shown. To music that ebbs and flows, the dancers assemble and disperse in as if a breeze, sometimes stiff and other times gentle, tosses them about. Sara Senegal is a raging storm throughout, plowing through others and hurling dancers about in a way that feels violent.
While “Texture of the Whole” and “Clusters” still carry the eye, none of Sinopoli’s works can compare to the mastery of her “Dreams.” The first work she created for her company still holds up and captures the imagination.
To the minimalist music by Avro Part, the duet, staged here with Teeter and Robles, is a head first fall into the mystery of sleep. The dancers begin, standing, rocking back and forth like the pendulum of a clock, marking the time before they descend into the abyss. At that moment, the audience is captivated and stay with the dancers throughout their restless slumber.
An amazing work, “Dreams” remains one of Sinopoli’s best. And no matter how many times I see it, I am forever beguiled by its exquisite honesty.
Christopher K. Morgan performs his solo "Pohaku" at PS/21.
“Pohaku,” a solo by Christopher K. Morgan, begins with the passing of rocks.
Audience members stand in the aisle, transporting stones hand-to-hand in a chain from the back of the theater to the stage. At its edge, Morgan kneels, accepting each piece of earth to build a solid stone shrine. And as his solo unfolds, one realizes what Morgan is really building is his fractured relationship with his Hawaiian culture – one pebble at a time.
This deeply personal work, onstage at PS/21 in Chatham, blends stories, hula, modern dance with traditional and classical music to transport its audience to world of wind and water. Once on this a beautiful, isolated Pacific terrain, Morgan alerts us to a culture that has been trampled upon and nearly decimated. But with people like Morgan, whose parents were Hawaiian, but did not live on the islands, the songs, the stories and the dances are alive again. And more importantly, they are relevant.
Morgan begins his solo as if a wave. He tumbles and tosses his frame back and forth across the stage. When he finally stands, he sways like a guava tree in the breeze. His nature imagery ripples into traditional hula dances – loose rolling hips topped off by arm and hand gestures that appear inviting to both the audience and unseen spirits. But he can also act aggressively, stomping his feet, moving his bend legs in and out like an accordion and jabbing the air with a stiff arm. And because the weather was cool, a steady stream of steam curled over his head – like a hot cup of tea brewing off of his crown. That alone gave audience a sense they were experiencing something special.
Accompanying him are Elise Kaleihulukea Ryder performing traditional chants and percussion and Wytold, an electronic cellist – all sounds that draw the audience further into this exotic, distance landscape.
The music quiets when Morgan speaks. He recalls the language of his childhood and the stories of his parents, particularly his mother who joined the military, trained in segregated Mississippi and became an electrical engineer. He also speaks of last island monarch Queen Lili’uokalani who was overthrown by wealthy U.S. landowners for control of the sugar industry.
Throughout he sprinkles touches of the language and projections of both women and the Hawaiian scenery on screens of handmade paper.
While the “Pohaku,” Hawaiian for stone, is infused with melancholy, a longing for a culture overrun. But at the same time, Morgan gives us hope. As he rebuilds his Hawaiian connection, he is also rebuilding the culture. One leaves “Pohaku” understanding its importance. And even though we only glimpse a sliver of Hawaiian songs, dance, stories and history, we too become carriers of the stones that will rebuild the island’s heritage.
Sunday night is the last showing of “Pohaku” at PS/21 and the last showing of any performance under the tent. Next summer, the outdoor venue moves up the hill and inside into a permanent structure – complete with bathrooms, dressing rooms and rehearsal space.
That has always been the plan. It took 12 years to get there, but the intrepid founder and President Judy Grunberg got it there. Congratulations PS/21.
Washington Ballet in Jiri Kylian's hypnotic "Petite Mort"
It’s only been a year, but one can already see the influence Julie Kent has had on the Washington Ballet. This fine company, now in its 72nd year, has attractive dancers, excellent choreography, and likely thanks to the inimitable Kent, a solid feel – one that could take it from regional ensemble to one of the more important ballet institutions in our country.
It would be fitting as it does represent our nation’s Capitol. And it is representing it well as the finale to the Jacob’s Pillow season. The 30-member company is offering a knockout program of three works Jiri Kylian’s mesmerizing “Petite Mort,” Alexei Ratmansky’s delicious “Seven Sonatas” and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s playful “Sombrerisimo.”
Kylian’s work instantly takes in its viewers with its tableau – six men balancing swords on their fingers and six women, motionless and lurking in the dark background, in black, baroque-style gowns. Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A Major KV 488 awakens the men. They swipe their blades through the air, swing them around their feet and necks like a majorette toying with her baton. Danger hang heavy in the air.
And then in a flash, they grab a stage-size cloth that obscures the scene. As they draw it back, the women are out of their dresses, the swords are gone and a series of formal but unexpected pas de deux unfold. Kylian transports his audience to another dimension – a place where men and women, wearing now corset-like costumes, are clear in their social roles, but willing to break with the norm.
All of the duets are hypnotic, but Brooklyn Mack and Ayano Kimura are especially alluring. Their connection is real and therefore lending their dance an authenticity that capture every eye in the audience.
And this is where the influence of Kent, who danced every dramatic heroine and classical role in American Ballet Theatre’s repertoire, comes in. She was the ideal ballerina, what a prima is suppose to be all about. She was not just a dancer who could perform tricks, but one who infused meaning into her steps. And she is sharing this knowledge, ingrained in the fibers of her body and soul, with her dancers.
The dancers demonstrate their cohesiveness once again in “Seven Sonatas,” a series of Russian-inspired dances to music, played live, by Scarlatti. With pianist Glenn Sales onstage, the dancers gambol with counterpoint and solos and duets that are joyful and windswept. Gian Carlo Perez and Sona Kharatian duet is the exception. Ardent and tender, it is the beautiful, romantic heart of “Seven Sonatas.”
The evening ends with the boisterous “Sombrerisimo,” an all-male dance that allows the guys to cut loose and show a less serious side to the company’s persona. With six men and six bowler hats, the dance tickles with high-flying moves that add up to a delightful diversion.
Lastly, there is one more reason to love Washington Ballet. They have dancers of color – something I’d love to see more ensemble strive for.
Beatrice Capote, left, and Chloe Davis are two pals whose friendship deteriorates in "BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play."
The idea of seeing Camille A. Brown’s “BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play” excited me. I thought here will be a work that will explore what it is like to be a black girl in America. It will enlighten with a point of view of the neglected black, female child. And it will apprise its viewer on racism, which too many believe no longer exists.
But if you enter with high expectation, you often leave disappointed. That’s what happened on Thursday night at Jacob’s Pillow where Brown staged her evening-length work with her Camille A. Brown and Dancers. While all the moving parts – the music, the sets and the dancers were outstanding, “BLACK GIRL” didn’t inform or uplift its audience. It just was simply an extended mime of girlish games – jump rope, hopscotch and patty cake for an hour.
And while the bluesy bass played by Robin Bramlett and piano played by Scott Patterson added tone and color, the dance left one void of any sympathy or feeling for these girls – an essential ingredient to engaging one’s soul and psyche, which is the reason for art.
It begins with Brown herself stomping and dancing in an extensive solo. She grooves on the musical rhythms with her feet and her hands. Jumping to and from raised platforms, there was an expectation that her dance would build. But it stayed in place as she skipped and sprung and made a lot of gestures – fist pounding her chest in a gesture of love or swinging her head around with attitude.
She was finally joined by Catherine Foster. The two played out a duet that started with fancy footwork derived from double Dutch jump roping and it grew into a foot pounding, hand-clapping battle into which the two were perfectly synchronized. Here is where you see the skill involved in Brown’s work, but some how the visual and aural sport didn’t add up to anything that could touch the human heart.
The closest that came was a duet between Bernice Capote and Chloe Davis. The friendship between these two was destroyed as Davis sought to outshine Capote. The latter crumpled into a heap, destroyed by Davis’ dismissal of her for her own personal gains. Here was a story that all could relate to.
The final section with Brown and Teneise Ellis was baffling. Brown looked to be braiding Ellis’ hair, but Ellis ducked time and again from Brown, flopping about in ways that were baffling. The incomprehensible movement and relationship further complicated an appreciation for “Linguistic Play.”
Applause must be given to Elizabeth Nelson for her colorful chalkboard set. It lent this labored dance an urban and multicolor flare that was gloriously welcome.