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Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010

Milwaukee Ballet’s ‘Innovative Motion’

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The accomplished dancers of the Milwaukee Ballet are the unifying thread to three radically different new works in a program called “Innovative Motion”at the Pabst Theater, Feb. 11-14.

Salvatore Aiello was the artistic director and choreographer for the North Carolina Dance Theatre before his death in 1995. His work, especially Clowns and Others (1978), is steadily gaining recognition under the care of his ballet master, Jerri Kumery. Diego Carrasco Schoch, a former leading dancer with Milwaukee Ballet and member of Aiello’s company, joined Kumery to stage its Milwaukee premiere. Seen in rehearsal, it’s a charming interpretation of Prokofiev’s piano piece, Visions Fugitives.Its humorous, highly theatrical episodes in a carnival setting demand meticulous dancing and strong acting.

Sur_Rendered, by Luc Vanier of UW-Milwaukee’s dance program, is an intricate combination of contemporary ballet and motion-capture technology. The dancers will wear sensors on their bodies that will set large animations into motion before, behind and beneath them as they execute Vanier’s engrossing, fast-paced twists, thrusts, balances and falls. Rendered on my home computer, the gorgeously colored animations seem like living things. Vanier began these experiments 10 years ago to reflect how entwined we are with computers. Meanwhile, one graceful dancer performs classical ballet with a pointe shoe on one foot and a boot attached to a curved base like a rocking horse on the other. It’s original and haunting.

Australian choreographer Tim O’Donnell won last season’s international Genesiscompetition at the Milwaukee Ballet with a piece about interpersonal relations called The Games We Play.Now 24 years old, he’s chosen as his subject the painful questioning of the existence of the god of his upbringing. Set to Ravel’s famous music and titled Bolero, Let There Be Light,it’s a personal, risk-taking dance about (dis)belief. With the music, it builds to an impassioned physicality.

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