As it turned out, I had a business trip to the Phoenix area that was conveniently scheduled for the opening of Ballet Arizona’s all-Balanchine program. It became somewhat of a benchmarking exercise as I don’t see much of this company and given the ubiquity of Balanchine ballets, especially “Symphony in Three Movements” which levels the female corps and exposes it with the barest of costumes in combination with the purest of movements and gestures.
My very personal verdict is that this company pulled it off admirably and at times even astounded the audience. However — and this is really a minor quibble from a jaded audience member — the corps seemed uneven with a few — maybe several — dancers appearing pensive rather attacking the steps. Does it have to do with the style of coaching? (In other performances of this ballet that I have gotten used to, Francia Russell used to send dancers on to the stage by telling them they had everything to succeed — it made a difference.)
While “Symphony in Three Movements” is a suitable corps benchmark, “Apollo” is where the principal dancers prove their worth. I enjoyed the artistry of the females dancers, especially Arianni Martin’s Terpsichiore. However, I found Roman Zavarov’s Apollo different from the aesthetics I’m used to, which tends to be Olympian godlike or ‘child-god’ as opposed to Zavarov’s Olympics gymnast.
It was nice to see “Walpugusnacht Ballet” begin the evening, as it is not a ballet I have seen much — originally created to accompany opera, it is sunny and light.