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Ballet Builders 2006 at Florence Gould Hall
-Onstage with the Dancers

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Ballet Builders 2006
Presented by
New Choreographers On Point

Ruth Chester, Executive Director
Michael Kraus, Artistic Director
Meg Gurin-Paul, Associate Artistic Director
Lighting Designer: Ted Sullivan
Stage Manager: Melissa Caolo

Works by: Salim Gauwloos, Helen Heineman,
Debra Jo Hughes, Joseph Jefferies, Lonné Moretton,
Robert Sher-Machherndl, Ted Thomas & Frances Ortiz
Presented at Florence Gould Hall
(Gould Hall Website)
55 East 59th Street


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 8, 2006

Originally Published on

New Choreographers On Point, founded in 1990 by Ruth Chester and Michael Kraus, assists new choreographers to realize their concepts and helps them perform their works. Ballet Builders helps choreographers in the genre of ballet. Distinguished ballet professionals choose the works to be performed. (Program Notes).

Two Steps Ahead (Premiere): Choreography by Salim Gauwloos, Music by Astor Piazzolla, Costumes by Afi McClendon, Performed by Janelle Abbott, Vanessa Hylande, Salim Gauwloos, Sponsored by Broadway Dance Center, Shoes by Capezio.

Passing Through (2005): Choreography by Debra Jo Hughes, Music by Primeaux and Mike, "Healing Song", "Walking in Prayer", and Nóirín Ní Riain, "An Caoineadh", Musician, Peter Lewis, Performed by Natia Kezevadze and Royce Zackery.

Badlands Suite (Premiere): Choreography by Helen Heineman, Music by David Chesworth, "Badlands Suite", Costumes by Naoko Nagata, Performed by Mabel Modrono, Tyler Ingram, Mary Carpenter, Ayuko Hirota, Jamy Hsu, Mark Burns, Abraham Miha, Ian Thatcher.

Cupid Revealed (NY Premiere): Choreography by Joseph Jefferies, Music by George Frederic Handel, "Tornami a vagheggiar", from "Alcina", Performed by Crystal Brothers and Travis Bradley.

In the Arms of Three (Premiere): Choreography by Ted Thomas and Frances Ortiz, Music by Francisco Tarrega: "Marieta Mazurka" and "Recuerdos de la Alhambra", Enrique Granados: "Suite Española, No. 5, Asturias: "Leyenda", played by Narciso Yepes, Costumes by Debra Katz, Performed by Elyssa Dole, Royce Zackery, Marlon Altoe, Brian Brooks.

Where Is the Love (NY Premiere): Choreography by Robert Sher-Machherndl, Music by Arvo Pärt mixed with Global Communication, Costumes by Jenifer Sher, Performed by Tessa Victoria and Robert Sher-Machherndl.

What is Hip? (Premiere): Choreography by Lonné Moretton, Music by Tower of Power, Kupka-Castillo-Garbaldi: "What is Hip?", Costumes by Jessica Sherwood, Performed by Elizabeth Belton, Lucia Compoy, Yuka Kawazu, Josh Kurtzberg, Lily Rose Peck, Denise Woods.

For the sixteenth season's Ballet Builders program, Ruth Chester and Michael Kraus, creators of New Choreographers On Point, presented seven premieres or recent works, one set to Handel, one set to Tower of Power, and one set to Piazzolla. The works were as eclectic as always, and they varied in length, genre, and attention to detail. My favorite work in tonight's program was Thomas and Ortiz' In the Arms of Three, with the one female dancer, Elyssa Dole, in various configurations with her three partners, all in severe mood and motif, all dressed for guitar music by Tarrega and Granados, and all mesmerizing in this fascinating choreography. At times, Ms. Dole, en pointe, was lifted, carried, or waited offstage, altogether, with the male dancers, dressed in black, in straight or angular configurations. A full complement of stark emotions was evident, not only in movement, but in expressive body language.

Another highlight was Jefferies' Cupid Revealed, danced in a style of whimsical humor, split-timing, and buoyant rhythms. It was evocative of works by Paul Taylor and The Joffrey. Hughes' Passing Through, another bright point, brief and balletic, included luxurious vocals and elegant coordination of arms and heads. Royce Zackery danced in this piece, as well as in the Thomas and Ortiz piece. Natia Kezedvadze was partnered by Mr. Zackery here, and Marlon Altoe and Brian Brooks also appeared in the Thomas-Ortiz work. The Jefferies work featured Crystal Brothers and Travis Bradley.

Two other works in the first half of tonight's showcase of new choreographers were Two Steps Ahead and Badlands Suite. The first, with my favorite Piazzolla Tango score, was entirely off-center in its affect of breezy female dancers in spring-like dresses, to a searing, scorching score! I happen to have experience with Argentine Tango, which is danced in straight dress, slit up the leg, with intense presence and engaged partnering. This one score is not for grins and bouncy choreography. Salim Gauwloos was in proper affect, but wore dark jeans, not the appropriate attire of the dancers in the Thomas-Ortiz work, scored to Spanish guitar. His two partners were entirely misdirected. Ms. Chester and Mr. Kraus might consider bringing in an authentic Argentine Tango duo to experiment with an upcoming showcase.

Badlands Suite would have been more interesting danced in tights, as the street clothes motif was just too off-setting for Heineman's good choreography. In dim lighting, these eight dancers presented incredible lifts and energized motion. Chesworth's score was engaging, but not Nagata's "costumes". Where Is the Love, an annoying rubbery walk, found Sher-Machherndl, also the choreographer, moving in angular, robotic patterns. It was far too long, although Arvo Pärt's score was fascinating. The final work, What Is Hip?, was noteworthy for Sherwood's bright costumes and the percussive, Tower of Power - Kupka/Castillo/Garbaldi score. Moretton's choreography was well conceived, but the six dancers were not up to speed.

Kudos to choreographers, Ted Thomas, Frances Ortiz, Debra Jo Hughes, and Joseph Jefferies. Kudos to Ruth Chester and Michael Kraus for their extensive efforts to showcase new choreographers for the past sixteen years. With three superb new dances and four works in progress, this evening was certainly worth the experience.

Mabel Modrono and Tyler Ingram in Badlands Suite by Helen Heineman
Photo courtesy of Tom Caravaglia

Badlands Suite by Helen Heineman. Dancers are Mabel Modrono and Tyler Ingram.
Photo courtesy of Tom Caravaglia

Tessa Victoria in Where is the Love
Photo courtesy of David Andrews

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at