Saturday, September 26, 2009

Review-Maine State Ballet

The Magic Toy Shop

Thinking of the Fall dance season that's underway in NYC, and all the fabulous companies that are performing, I wondered how does the Fall dance scene in Maine compare? We have a rigorous season approaching as well and it's very varied. From South African contemporary dance up at Bates College, to NY's Garth Fagen at Bowdoin College, to Pilobolus at the Merrill and Halloween Spooktacular from the Portland Ballet. Hey, there's a lot of dance happening in the small towns around Southern Maine.

And in on all the activity this weekend was one of Maine's long standing institutions, the Maine State Ballet company with The Magic Toy Shop. This ballet was choreographed by artist director Linda MacArthur Miele who trained and performed under George Balanchine. This was my first time seeing a production from this company and there is a lot of good to be said about what they do. First, their theater within their school building in Falmouth is modern, spacious, and yet intimate. It's nice to see a performance at the school where all the training and day to day work happens. The costumes by associate director Gail Csoboth were outstanding. They were colorful, elaborate and detailed. The dancers that played the dolls in the toy shop did a great job of keeping in character. They had to remain wooden and stiff while they danced showing the mechanical limitations of moving as dolls. They maintained poker faces throughout the 45 minute dance. The character dancers featured were a shop keeper and two families that came in to buy a doll. They didn't dance but they acted. There were a few standout dancers, Elazabeth Dragoni as the Toy Poodle in the cutest costume imaginable. Marissa Patten-Harris as Little Bo Peep was elegant as she woefully looked for her sheep. And the highlighted couple of Janet Davis and Michael Holden as Can Can dolls did a terrific job with some difficult choreography. Their pas de deux was strong, balanced and flowing.

The best part of this show was seeing all the kids in the audience. Little kids too. Imagine how great it is for a 5 year old to watch the dolls come to life. And the kids kept it real. They talked in their small voices whenever something was unclear or if it was a part that dragged on a bit too long. What a great learning tool to see what the innocent critics thought about the dance. The performance will be repeated next Saturday Oct 3rd.

Maine State Ballet's- The Magic Toy Shop
Saturday September 26th, 2009 in Falmouth, Maine