Violence or Beauty?

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Gretchen Alterowitz’s “Holding Ground”  with Alessa Rogers and Benjamin Stone. Atlanta Ballet's Wabi Sabi at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photograph by Kim Kenney.

Gretchen Alterowitz’s “Holding Ground” with Alessa Rogers and Benjamin Stone. Atlanta Ballet’s Wabi Sabi at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photograph by Kim Kenney.

There were five pieces on the program. The first, Gretchen Alterowitz’s “Holding Ground” in the Rose Garden, was a beautiful pas de deux featuring Alessa Rogers and Benjamin Stone. Very much in the contemporary ballet genre, the ballet displayed clever theme and variation devices, 360 degree facings, and an intense use of visual focus. The ballet told the story of a relationship, and it was easy for the audience to sympathize with the characters. The dancers faced some technical challenges, as they were performing lifts, leaps, and pirouettes in the grass on a hill, but they overcame the difficulties. The eloquent articulation of Alessa Rogers’ feet and the power displayed by Benjamin Stone only added to the graceful effect. There was one lift, taken straight out of every Petipa ballet, that seemed discordant, but the rest of the piece was elegantly crafted.

The audience moved to the Great Lawn for the remaining pieces. “Angels’ Share,” choreographed by John Heginbotham to a Von Dohnanyi score, was very pretty, and a technical showpiece for the dancers, but it might have been more effective on a traditional proscenium stage, where longer ballets with more classical movement are expected. There didn’t seem to be much connection between the dancers, although their dancing was strong and accomplished. My eye was consistently drawn to Yoomi Kim’s superb performance. It was facile, precise, and she frequently seemed to defy gravity; she was clearly comfortable with the movement and the audience. There was a charming, young audience member in front of me, wearing two hip-length braids and a star-spangled skirt, who was dancing along with the performers. It’s exactly what I love about the Wabi Sabi experience.

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