Louisville Ballet's Festival Americana Well Received

By Henry C. Mayer

Louisville Ballet opened its season with a fast moving, lively program. Titled Festival Americana, it lived up to its title with a flourish. From the opening number, "Hollywood and Vine," to the lively finale, "Cakewalk," each moment was to be savored and remembered.

This observer was fascinated most by one of the in-between numbers, "Preludio," danced exquisitely by two of the Company's premier dancers, Helen Starr and Dale Brannon. The music of Brazil's Hector Villa-Lobos was neatly choreographed by the Company's Artistic Director, Alun Jones.

The music's passionate character contrasted with the dancers' understated interpretations. One is reminded of Charles Boulogne, O.P.'s insight: "The dance is capable of portraying all the nuances that make up the relationship between man and woman." Maestro Villa-Lobos integrates the beauty of his Portuguese heritage with the native expression that we know as Brazilian.

The "Hollywood and Vine" number made it unmistakably clear just how much Alun Jones means to this company. He not only choreographed this number, but he also designed its scenery and costumes.

Michael Ford's lighting artistry was clearly evident in all four numbers but seemed superb in the opening of "Hollywood and Vine" and "Preludio."

Jeff Holland Cook again wielded his baton with ease and skill. It is so easy to become enthralled with the dancers' breathtaking movements that one can forget that the orchestra also makes it happen.

"Cakewalk" was just plain fun, yet a closer observation reveals that it calls or even demands exquisite timing and self-forgetful teamwork. This performance recalls a remark that Alun Jones made to this observer: "If a piece seems easy or perhaps effortless, we are doing our job; if it looks difficult or anything like that, we better shape up!"