ADI Chamber Ballet
American Dance Institute
November 14, 2009
by George Jackson
copyright 2009 by George Jackson
Making its debut, the ADI's resident company set out on two paths simultaneously. One is towards being a small, flexible entity that provides the Washington area with new work and exciting performances when our two classical ensembles of medium size - Washington Ballet and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet - are otherwise occupied and when no big companies are coming to visit. Chamber Ballet's other path is towards becoming the showcase for ADI pupils. To make the two directions meld would take a miracle.
As a student showcase, the debut worked. The company's in-house choreographer is Runqiao Du, who was trained at the Shanghai Dance Academy and performed with such ensembles as American Ballet Theatre, Chautauqua Dance Company, Cincinnati Ballet and the Washington and Farrell troupes. His neoclassical "Handel Suite" and semiromantic "Nocturne" (Chopin) are tidy, musically careful exercises with modest challenges that test but don't overtax inexperienced performers. Du's one unexpected work, "Before Dawn" looked like a solo Isadora Duncan might have danced before her first cup of morning coffee. It went on and on to a Rachmaninoff prelude with the woman throwing her arms wide open, falling to the floor and letting her hair fly.
Professional standards were set by three dancers - Maki Onuki, Jared Nelson and Corey Landolt - guesting from Washington Ballet. Landolt, who appeared in "Nocturne", strikes me as a very American type, assertively relaxed and suited for roles in Jerome Robbins ballets. Nelson, with Onuki as his partner, cut a dashing figure both in the "Don Quixote" pas de deux and in a duo of his own devising to pop music. He might, though, in "Don Q" have relaxed a bit and aimed for ease instead of forcing his technique. As a choreographer, Nelson used too many faux-passionate clasps.
Onuki danced splendidly. She's gained strength since Washington Ballet's full "Don Q" last month and done so without loosing her delicacy. Her balances were elegantly held and her fouettes proudly spun.
ADI Chamber Ballet's artistic director is Pamela Bjerknes, Erin Mahoney-Du is ballet mistress, Glenn Sales is music director and on this program was pianist for the Rachmaninov and Chopin. On which path will they and Runqiao Du take their company?