Review of Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s ‘Hearts Disguised’

Elizabith Costey ’16/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Gary Sloan
Photo Credit: Gary Sloan

Dancers enter in a line across the back of the stage. Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s fourth performance of the season has begun. “Hearts Disguised” is a combination of three romantically inclined ballets, including “Courtly Lovers” first staged in 2003, “Schubert Adagio” created in 1991, and “Timeless Attractions” (2010). Each piece is a different tale of romance and love- or lack thereof.

“Courtly Lovers” is an innocent and playful tale about the flirtations of a group of young men and the lovely ladies of court. Led by Angie DeWolf and her partner, Spencer Keith, the men and women tease each other incessantly, all the while secretly falling in love with one another. The women are coy, the men are charming. As the ballet continues, the dancer becomes more sincere and sweet, until it culminates with a lively and romantic happy ending.

“Schubert Adagio” is one of Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s oldest romantic ballets. It is also the most classic of the three ballets performed in this show. As the lights go up on the stage, the audience watches as four men and four women stand in a diagonal line across the stage. The dancers perform in four duets. Legs gently extend in elegant arabesques. Assisted by their partners, the women rotate their legs forward, remaining on pointe. On beat, the four women bend both the standing leg as well as the lifted leg and turn their face to the audience, presenting a beautiful image. Then one by one they and their partners disappear off stage, leaving a single duet.

Danced by Madeline Bonn and Ryan Bulson, the duet envelops the stage. It is soft and delicate, yet emotionally wanting. The lighting was simple; the costumes were simple; even the choreography was simple. And, that was exactly what made the piece so lovely. “Schubert Adagio” proves that simplicity can in fact breed beauty. There was only one critique. For such a beautiful piece, it lacked emotional expression. “Schubert Adagio” is about love and betrayal, two subjects which are never found without emotional depth. It is meant to be more than just a pretty ballet. However, aside from the one critique, it was a lovely performance with wonderful partnering and grace.

Photo Credit: Gary Sloan
Photo Credit: Gary Sloan

“Timeless Attraction”, the final piece of the evening, was certainly the most contemporary and vigorous of the three. Spencer Keith enters the stage alone, lit from behind. The lights brighten and the music explodes in a cacophony of sound. Angie DeWolf enters the stage dressed in a red leotard, and the pair begin s tense duet. The music is edgy and unsettling as is the dance it reflects.

The first duet leaves the stage, making way for the second duet between Lauren Ganther and Stephen James. The second duet is striking and disquieting. The partner work is imposing, even threatening, as if James is dominating Ganther’s movements. Ganther herself is remarkable in her poise, strength, and emotional expression.

Joanna Binney and Junichi Fukuda take the stage, performing the third duet. Throughout their piece there is little interaction between the pair. While some choreography was complementary, even matching, there was an intentional distance between the two dancers. Magdalena Gyftopoulos and Jayson Douglas danced the last of the four duets. Their piece was gripping and overwrought, displaying similar sentiments to Ganther’s and James’ duet. Suddenly the men take over the stage, leaping and turning to the heightened sounds of Alberto Ginastera’s “String Quartet #2”. The ballerinas reenter the stage. The piece turns tumultuous, as dancers leap to and fro, pirouetting and dipping into sharp arabesques, until only the four pairs remain on stage. The music strikes its final note just as the four couples strike their final, dramatic pose.

With wonderful depth and choreography, “Hearts Disguised” was a turbulent tour of the many expressions of love and romance, from innocent flirtations to dark passions and everything in between.

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