A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented by State Street Ballet
At the Lobero Theatre, Sunday, April 2.
Reviewed by Felicia M. Tomasko
While spring is often the time for new beginnings, State Street Ballet’s spring performance marks the end of its season. For the final performance of its 12th year, the company presented a mixed repertoire. The program included an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, choreographed by the ballet’s Artistic Director Rodney Gustafson, as well as three renowned classical pieces: a selection from the 19th century, Esmeralda; the celebratory closing pas de deux from Flames of Paris; and Gsovsky’s Grand Pas Classique.
The variation in the program allowed the company to showcase the dancers’ skills in the three initial dances, particularly their ease in flying, and in several series of dizzying chained turning fouettés. Esmeralda portrayed a gypsy spirit with a flirtatious pas de deux danced by Ming Chang and Corina Gill, a strong addition to the company this year. The dancers’ use of the tambourine, although choreographically interesting, was inconsistent in its coordination with the music, and there were times when it was a distraction.
The energetic pas de deux from the Flames of Paris, celebrating the French Revolution, was performed by Silvia Rotaru and Sergei Domrachev. It was a delight to see Domrachev dance a serious role and display his ease partnering the always-graceful Rotaru. Jennifer Rowe and Ryan Camou’s Grand Pas Classique demonstrated a palpable chemistry. Rowe shone gloriously in a rare appearance on stage alone.
While the first half of the program favored technique, the second focused on evocative storytelling. The Midsummer Night’s Dream’s entrancing stage set took the audience into the story’s fairy-tale world of enchantment, love, playacting, and mistaken identities. Rotaru and Camou were gorgeous as the feuding Titania and Oberon, and Sergei Domrachev was humorous as Bottom. Eduardo Zuniga was sprightly as a mischievous Puck. The two lovestruck couples, Autumn Eckman and Scott Pascal, along with Chang and Gill, were alternately playful and heartbroken as they courted. Tivoli Evans had a graceful presence as the changeling child who initiates the row between Titania and Oberon. Although beautifully danced and staged, the resolution at the end of the dream was too prolonged, diluting the strength of the earlier imagery. Unfortunately, State Street’s next season in Santa Barbara won’t begin until the fall, when a new repertoire will be unveiled. With any luck, next year’s company will be even better than this year’s strong corps.