Rochester City Ballet: Ballet on the Edge

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(review by Sarah Knight, photos taken by Meghan Marin on her iPhone, unfortunately her camera broke on site– but we are still very impressed)

I was honored to be a guest at a rehearsal for the Rochester City Ballet. They are performing Ballet on the Edge at the Nazareth Arts Center next weekend (May 13-15, more details HERE). Walking in to the studio, I was greeted warmly by husband and wife team, Beth Bartholomew (Ballet Mistress) and Fidel Orrillo (Ballet Master). They were very approachable and made me feel comfortable and welcome. The dancers were quietly stretching and warming up, but I could already feel the nervous energy and excitement in the room. It was electric and palpable.

The music began and immediately everyone straightened up, if that’s even possible. The first dance included the whole troupe, it was powerful and fluid. I found myself sitting closer and closer to the edge of my seat. The intensity and grace of the dancers was incredible to watch and even brought tears to my eyes, very moving.

Some of the pieces were more emotional and graceful, others were gritty and powerful and all of them were spectacular. Beth and Fidel seemed very much like proud parents, shouting encouragement, quietly discussing moves that needed more work and clapping after every dance was complete. The whole troupe had a camaraderie that could only be achieved by spending countless hours together practicing. They were all very encouraging and payed attention to what was happening on the stage at all times.

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(Ben Rabe and Caitlin Schwartz were so fluid together. Caitlin, who is one of the featured dancers in the performance, was absolutely breathtaking)

Then it was time for the David Bowie segment, Under the Moonlight. Rochester City Ballet is the first dance troupe to aquire the rights to his songs. Next weekend will be the world premiere of this set (nine songs in all), thanks in part to David Palmer, artistic director. Then if on cue, David walked in to the studio.

The dancers immediately straighted up even more (yes, even more. I’ve never seen such good posture in my whole life). David Palmer has danced and taught all over the world. I asked him how he managed to get the rights to David Bowie’s music. “It wasn’t hard,” he replied, “Because I told them we would do this iconic music justice.” And they certainly did.

There are nine of Bowie’s songs in this set and whether or not you are a fan of his work, I guarantee you won’t be able to sit there without tapping your foot or singing along. The set was energetic, fun, powerful and most certainly “iconic”. Please do yourself a favor and purchase tickets… seriously do it. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Watch more about the performance and hear more from David Palmer HERE.

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Review by Sarah Knight