Because it’s summertime, arts shows tend to get a more indulgent audience: Crowds are smaller, the big names and shows that come through are a few months away, and the youths involved in the various hot-months training programs show their stuff before the school year begins.
On Aug. 6, Boca Ballet Theatre’s annual summer recital was presented in two programs at Spanish River High School, in which the company was joined by two Miami City Ballet corps members and presented works by George Balanchine and David Parsons, a world premiere by a company alum, and a homegrown repertory piece. In print, that doesn’t sound like a summer A-if-only-for-effort program, and in practice, it turned out to be as rich a Sunday afternoon as you had any right to expect from a show on view in the dog days.
Dan Guin and Jane Tyree’s troupe focuses for the most part on ballet, which is why it was exceptional to see it open its program with a work of modern dance, Parsons’s The Envelope, a work from 1985 set to various pieces by Rossini (including part of the Barber of Seville overture). This is a whimsical work, with the dancers in black costume moving in Howell Binkley’s shadowy lighting as an envelope is carried, examined and then tossed into the wings, only to be tossed back in again.
This diverting scenario is accompanied by jumpy, vivid motion, in hands as well as legs, and the creation of spider-like shapes from a pileup of bodies. The Boca Ballet dancers matched the manic energy of Parsons’s choreography admirably, and had clearly been well-drilled by Parsons répétiteur Jaime Martinez. It was a smart, sharp way to start off a program.
Up next was the first of two world premieres: Summer Waves, a three-part ballet choreographed by the young Sanjay Saverimuttu, a Boca native who danced for this company for years and now dances for Louisville Ballet. Saverimuttu’s three-part work, set to British composer Max Richter’s reimagining of “Summer” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, featured a number of elegant balletic poses, lovely couples work by Brittany Bonefas and Jorge Urbina, and a dark finale in which the entire company (wearing pretty spring-green costumes by Ines Lopez), is struck dead, falling en masse as one lone dancer looks at them for signs of life and then walks, stunned, through the bodies.
It was an unexpected but powerful ending to what had been a traditionally oriented dance vocabulary and an overall attitude of summer celebration. But Richter’s moody take on Vivaldi clearly drove Saverimuttu in the same direction, and Summer Waves works well as a compendium of classic, inventive ballet moves that provides a sharp shock at the close: I was reminded of Hiroshima, in which death came from the sky in the middle of a bright summer’s day. In any case, it was a well-constructed, well-danced work that reminded us all of how fast life can turn transient.
Jennifer Lauren and Kleber Rebello are among the better-known MCB dancers, and they were the focus of the next work, Balanchine’s La Source, set to music by the 19th-century Frenchman Léo Delibes. Here, too, the company was coached by an official répétiteur, Diana White of the Balanchine Trust. This work from 1968 is exquisiteness itself, and has the kind of look and feel that still sets the standard for what we think of when we think of classical ballet.
Lauren and Rebello made an ideal couple, easeful and familiar with each other; in their solo variations Lauren was precise and wonderfully limber, and Klebello projected joy and virility. Bonefas also danced impressively as the other female lead, and the eight girls in the corps gracefully enlarged the ballet’s feeling of delicate beauty.
The program’s second half was devoted to Guin’s Graduation Ball, a one-act set in the late 19th century at a girl’s finishing school where the titular dance is being attended by the cadets from a nearby military academy. This is a delightful piece, with a charming scenario that ends with two sets of lovers finding each other out, all to the music of Johann Strauss II. Guin did a good job of juggling things so that 15 girls could be reasonably believed to have a good time at the dance with just five cadets.
Carina Castaneda was excellent as the female half of the sweetheart couple whose insistence on being with one another disrupts the proceedings, dancing with the kind of poise and technique that make a young ballet dancer stand out. Barbara Monteiro was funny and memorable as the flirtatious girl who vies for Castaneda’s beau, danced well by Kevin Campbell, and Urbina was an exciting drummer boy whose series of Russian-style high jumps had the large audience Sunday afternoon cheering.
This was a hefty and satisfying afternoon in which this company showed range and depth of talent while keeping the pure entertainment value impressively high.