Friday, August 6, 2010

Cain Park: Verb Ballets

Wings And Aires (1981)
Tarantella (2005)
Dust Bowl Ballads (1941)
The Fiddler (1951, excerpted from The Village I Knew)
To Have and To Hold (1989)
CLICKS Crew (2010)
Ambiguous Drives (2010)
at the Evans Amphitheater, Cain Park, Cleveland Heights

But for Wings and Aires I probably would be beginning with something about how this was a pleasant evening of dance. Unfortunately, Verb began the performance with Wings and Aires: Not only was I not moved by the dance--which bordered on eternal in length--the quality of the music was distractingly abysmal. I think the only place I've heard classical music with less dynamic range and more distortion is in the parking lot of the United Dairy Farmers convenience store across from Cain Park... where, as near as I can tell, the sole purpose is to make things unpleasant for loiterers. (It's little wonder, in that case, why classical has a bad rap among people in my general age range).

I was contemplating cutting my losses during the pause leading into Tarnatella, and I'm glad I stayed, as that piece was an interesting combination of movement and music, including some fancy footwork/cymbal playing while dancing.

Dust Bowl Ballads and The Fiddler were both acceptable, with Dust Bowl Ballads being only piece in the program where the music (By Woodie Guthrie) had lyrics that joined the story of the dance and the dance and music were an effective combination.

Rounding out the program, it is difficult to choose between To Have and Hold and Ambiguous Drives as my favorite from the evening. Both had great music, compelling movement, and at the most basic level held my interest throughout. I think To Have And To Hold wins by a narrow hair due to the unconventional but enjoyable choreography including flowing over, under, and through three benches and the other dancers. It wasn't until near the end of the dance that I wondered if the undecorated pine benches were intend to double as a symbolic coffin.

Finally, in between those two dances was CLICKS Crew featuring Verb Ballets' summer interns and students: At first it seemed a little sloppy but came together as the dance progressed and was likewise enjoyable to watch and listen to.


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