Hamilton Stage’s ‘4 Flavor Program’ a savory delight

RAHWAY —

The Union County Performing Arts Center recently welcome the Hamilton State to its Rahway location, and one of the first things put on at the new, smaller venue was a delightful performance called ‘4 Flavor Program,’ by the American Repertory Ballet.

What the American Repertory Ballet called a “4 Flavor Program” on Union County Performing Arts Center’s Hamilton Stage in Rahway Saturday afternoon actually was a combination of delicious flavors. And more than enough to satisfy a ballet enthusiast’s appetite.

In a variety of delightful performances, under the umbrella of Douglas Martin, artistic director, Mary Barton, resident choreographer and ballet master, and Kathleen Moore, company teacher, lovely ballerinas and handsome, young men allowed their talents to be exhibited in splendor.

The first excerpt in a four-flavored production, was an impressive performance of “Capriccios,” with choreography by Trinette Singleton, as Claire van Bever and Joshua Kurtzberg danced in delicate motion to Dmitri Shostakovich’s music, “Concerto for Piano No. 2 Op. 102 in F. major.” They were accompanied, in beautiful costumes, by eight very talented ballerinas, including Euphrosyne Avery, Alice Cao, Shaye Firer, Monica Giragosian, Samantha Gullace, Talin Kenar, Kesley McFalls and Karen Leslie Moscato.
Somewhat of a disappointment, however, was “Follia,” which was choreographed by Patrick Corbin, with music by Francesco Germiniani’s “Concerto XII in D Minor,” in which six muscle-bound men, danced together, in duo and as solo. Cameron Auble-Branigan, Stephen Companella, Tullio Cata, Kurtzburg, Mattia Pallozzi and Edward Urwin appeared somewhat clumsy in their efforts to be effective. Some of these same dances might easily have been more impressive if danced by the ballerinas.

Outstanding, however, was an excerpt, or as the ballet company called a “preview,” of a stunning, intimate performance of “Romeo and Juliet,” starring Kurtzberg and Pallozzi. With choreography by Martin and music by Sergei Prokofiev, and a large bed prop in one corner of the stage, the production received enormous applause.

Following a brief intermission, the American Repertory Theater brought forth a fascinating variety of dance moments and movements under the the title of “Straight Up With a Twist.” Barton served as choreographer. A group of four musicians arrived from California to perform a segment of live music, which was made possible through a Live Music for Dance grant from the American Music Center. Outside of this episode, music was provided on tape.

The Hamilton Stage is fortunate to have the American Repertory Ballet as part of its permanent entertainment. The company brings classical and contemporary dance to New Jersey and nationwide audiences and to dance students through artistic and educational programs. It is comprised of the American Repertory Ballet professional company, the Princeton Ballet School, the Access and Enrichment initiatives, including the Dance Power Program, and had been voted People’s Choice for Best Dance Company in 2008 and 2011.

If the American Repertory Ballet can continue to offer such fine productions and wonderful talent to the Hamilton Stage, then undoubtedly Rahway and New Jersey itself can continue to enhance the state’s culture and pride.

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