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Milwaukee Ballet Showcases ‘Innovative Motion’Milwaukee Ballet Showcases ‘Innovative Motion’

Dance Review

Feb. 17, 2010
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The artistry and range of the Milwaukee Ballet was vividly displayed in “Innovative Motion,”a showcase of works by three generations of choreographers. With little narrative to follow, I could focus on how well the dancers work together and how different they are. The cheers at the final curtain were for them at least as much as for the choreographers, who must have been deeply gratified by the way their work was executed and received.

That boisterous ovation followed the stylish and heartfelt fireworks of 24-year-old Timothy O’Donnell’s Bolero, Let There Be Light. The dancers began by covering their mouths with one hand as we listened to recorded text, notably George Carlin riffing that institutional religion, to maintain power, has persuaded billions that an invisible old man keeps lists of every move they make. The dance that followed was exhilarating. Bare-chested males began as nave tabula rasa; one fell from light; the sign of the cross and fluttering hands became dance vocabulary; couples defiantly executed treacherous partnering. O’Donnell, an Australian, will always be welcome here.

Happily, Luc Vanier, a Canadian, already lives here. The town should embrace his painstaking experiments in the connectedness of bodies and computers, of life and video games. His Sur_Rendered ranks among the most serious and forward-looking artworks I’ve seen. For his refusal to allow his gorgeous projected animations to overshadow the dancers; for giving them control, making them collaborators, and celebrating their individuality; for the fragility and courage projected by the solo dancer in the rocking shoe; and for his taste in music: Hallelujah!

Salvatore Aiello’s Clowns and Others is a gleaming, Fellini-like carnival of human follies by a bighearted showman, set to a Prokofiev piano score that was beautifully played by Steven Ayers, with great lighting and costumes and laugh-out-loud jokes.


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