By Iride Aparicio

Pictures by: Robert Shomler
Alexsandra Meijer held upside down by  Jeremy Jovitch in EIGHTY-ONE

SAN JOSÉ, CA--  Changes are common in Silicon Valley, so it is not surprising that to end its Season, Ballet San José  (BSJ) selected  three “Evolutionary” works  which included a World’s Premiere, choreographed by JESSICA LANG and two company’s premieres. Added to the program was a dance choreographed by Principal Dancer, KAREN GABAY who will retire from the company after 33 successful Seasons of  dancing.

The night  started with DUETS, choreographed by MERCE CUNNINGHAM accompanied by the music of  Improvisation III, a rhythmic tune written by composer JOHN CAGE.  The beat of the piece is marked by drums. The music, sounds similar to the vibrating shells draped around the legs of  the “Concheros dancers” in México.


As the name of the work indicates, the dance is a series of duets ( pas de deux)  in which six couples: MALLORY WELSH with THOMAS BAKER, SHANNON BYNUM with PETER HERSHEY, BETH ANN NAMEY with RUDY CANDIA, SARA STEIN with ALEX KRAMER, HARRIET McMEEKIN with LUCIUS KIRST, and MIRAI NODA with SHUAI CHEN execute different dances with one duet ending their dance as the other begins their dance. Because of the great variety of the steps, this dance may be considered a celebration of the duet.

To be able to perform it properly, however, the dancers must be in perfect physical shape  because the ballet requires a great amount of  elasticity from their bodies, who need to twist or stretch not only when they are dancing, but also when they standing, or walking around the stage where each couple creating different “figures” with the juxtaposition of their bodies.

To create these “figures,” Cunningham uses gymnastic movements, and ballet movements, similar to the bar exercises ballet’s students do in school. Their movements can be angular, with their arms extended on both sides of the body and their legs bent or stretched to form sharp looking geometrical figures, or they may look “round.” with the circles formed by the position of their arms. The dance is difficult and it requires that all the dancers movements be done in rhythm with the drum's beats.

In AMOUR GITAN, danced with the music of Tzigane by MAURICE RAVEL, dancer KAREN GABAY dressed in a fiery short red dress and holding a Sevillian Mantón (Shawl)  in her hands danced to her own choreography with principal Ballet S.J. dancer MAYKEL SOLAS


Both dancers interpreted masterfully the sensual gypsy dance, a flirtatious dance in which the male is teased several times by the sensual movements of the female dancer and then pushed aside and rejected each time he  approaches her.  The lovers “game” interpreted with a mixture of some classical ballet and modern dance steps, was perfectly represented by both the dancers who put “electricity” in their romance.
The music was masterfully interpreted by Violinist LEV POLYALIN, and pianist  by KEISUKE NAKAGOSHI

GLOW-STOP another Company premier, was the work which received the  longest ovation that night. The ballet was choreographed by JORMA ELO using the music of WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART and PHILIP GLASS.

As dance, GLO-STOP is an athletic ballet in which the choreographer (JORMA) uses techniques of ballet with rapid music in a series of ballet's steps which require perfect coordination.

Dancers of the ballet GLOW-STOP choreographed by JORMA ELO

The Finnish-Born choreographer whose ballets blend classical background with modern dance with aemphasis in athleticism and dynamic movements, is one of the most sought-after choreographers in the world and had won several awards for his “unique” choreographies.

GLOW-STOP included twelve dancers: AMY MARIE BRIONES, CINDY HUANG, ALEXSANDRA MEIJER, NUTNAREE PIPIT-SUKSUN, ANNAI ROSE, JING ZHANG, DAMIR EMRIC, JAMES KOPECKY, JEREMY KOVITCH, JOSHUA SEIBEL, AKIRA TAKAHASHI Y KENDALL TEAGUE. Dancing in groups of  four, six or alone doing everything from  jumps, to spins, to splits, either dancing together or dancing separately. It most be very difficult to dance because the music is fast and the dance requires exact precision from its dancers  

The music for the dance was Interpreted live by Symphony Silicon Valley Orchestra and  pianist KEISUKE NAKAGOSHI and it was  Directed by Ballet San Jose Music Director and Conductor GEORGE DAUGHERTY whose masterfully direction made possible for the orchestra to convey the feeling of the melodies and match the music’s beat, with the steps of the dancers

A scene from the world’s premier of EIGHTY ONE

The World’s Premier  of  EIGHTY ONE, by  JESSICA LANG, a choreographer who has obtained the highest levels in her profession, danced with the music commissioned for the work written by  Polish composer JAKUB CIUPINSKI, was both technical and visual. 

In technique, the ensemble of  eleven dancers: AMY MARIE BRIONES, CINDY HUANG, MARIA JACOBS-YU, ALEXSANDRA MEIJER, ANNALI ROSE, LAHNA VANDERBUSH, JAMES KOPECKY, JEREMY KOVITCH, FRANCISCO PRECIADO, AKIRA TAKAHASHI y KENDALL TEAGUE, mastered  the difficult fast moving dance that changes constantly and require that the dancers tax their bodies to extremes; even being held upside down at times.

Again, to be able to execute the required movements  in EIGHTY ONE, the dancers must be in top shape and be able to concentrate in what they are doing because the electronic esoterically-sounding instrument backstage does not play melodies, it plays bells and an ostenato beat so repetitious that gets monotonous after a while which probably made the dance difficult to dance for the dancers.

Visually, the work is interesting and one needs to give credit to the choreographer  and the dancers, who performed it in perfect synchronization. . The dance was  presented against a dark stage  illuminated in the back by lines of  golden light which combined with the music put surrealism into the work. The precision of the ballet got applause, but little audience enthusiasm. The difficult works danced on that  that evening, however, demonstrated the  mastery of the Ballet San Jose Company dancers once again.