Arova Contemporary Ballet combines wit, sensuality in ‘Strapless’
For its new show, “Strapless,” Arova Contemporary Ballet has again summoned a cadre of fine choreographers to set dance on a single theme. Inspired by Deborah Davis’ novel of the same title and a portrait by John Singer Sargent, Artistic Director Alison Cummins Page has tied nine dances together in a sweeping, sensual show that evokes the Paris of “Madame X,” the partially strapless subject of Sargent’s painting. The dances fade in and out of thematic focus like a Renoir painting, at times providing a sharp rendering, at other times a vague suggestion.
David Keener’s “The Innocent” is a partial remake of “The Rite of Spring,” set to the opening of Stravinsky’s ballet score. Although it vividly reflects the chaos of the music, the choreography is most remarkable for its literal adherence to the composer’s complex rhythms, which the dancers dutifully realized.A Brahms’ intermezzo accompanied Kristin Marrs in her elegantly rendered solo, “As the Heart Grows Fonder.” Brandon Ragland continued in the classical vein with his lyrical “Impulsing Nuances.”
Ashley McQueen’s flowing duo, “Strapless,” was danced in mirrored black costumes with shoulders covered on opposite sides. Later in the show, Lynn Andrews would return to that theme in “Heat, Light,” in which symmetry and black costumes again played a role.
Jennifer Medina contributed two pieces. “Resist/Resign” provided a window into the the emotional turmoil of a couple. “Women of the Cove,” inspired by a community of midwives in the Great Smoky Mountains, was an Alvin Ailey-inspired celebration, beautifully realized by the quintet of dancers.
“Strapless” is a well-conceived show by a dedicated group of dancers and choreographers. More than mere entertainment, it reveals wit, creativity and intelligence, and the means to communicate them.