A showcase of precision, grace

Dancers delight after tough, 6-week course



Far removed from the usual tedious and too-long dance school recital, Ballet Theatre of Maryland's Summer Intensive Gala 2006 performance was an entertaining showcase.

Saturday's program at Anne Arundel Community College's Pascal Center for the Performing Arts included diverse selections from classical, romantic and contemporary repertoires. The selection included Coppelia, The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet, along with newer works like American Ballads, Peter Pan and Hitchcock Presents choreographed to Dance of the Marionettes.

Overseen by Ballet Theatre of Maryland Artistic Director Dianna Cuatto, the six-week Summer Intensive program was open to about 50 students who successfully auditioned.

"Our Summer Intensive program is designed to train the total dancer," Cuatto said in her introduction to the performance. "We focus on anatomy using scientific discoveries to maximize the dancer's physical health over the longest period."

Cuatto explained that students "worked with professional dancers and were exposed to professional choreography," adding that she "loves working with the students. "Summer is my best opportunity to work directly with each student, and every student in our school receives an individual evaluation from their teachers and from me."

As a polished ensemble, the dancers, who were as young as 8, executed the choreography with precision and, individually, each dancer exhibited poise and discipline. Some were clearly working to maintain the correct arm extensions and control while excelling at the freer jazz movements. More importantly, no single dancer diminished the overall disciplined lines of the group; all executed movements with precision in close proximity to each other.

The two-hour program opened smartly with "Red" from American Ballads, danced to the music of Morton Gould and showcasing dancers in the Pre-professional category with Ballet Theatre of Maryland guest artists. So well trained was this group that it was sometimes difficult to distinguish the professionals from the students. In this excellent group, dancers Rachel Stephenson, Shannon Haines and Elizabeth Cunningham were outstanding and seem assured of a bright dance future.

Petite Shannon Haines danced Juliet's solo and Kitri's solo in "Paquita" with such exquisite grace and precision that I seemed to be witnessing the debut of a future prima ballerina.

Younger students who displayed poise, joy in dancing, and athleticism included Camden Musgrave of the Intermediate section and Erin Matthews in the Advanced Beginners.

In the Advanced group, Kristen Davis and Jessica Mair showed extraordinary energy and commanding stage presence. Dancing several solos, Lina Olea was outstanding among the Intermediate group.

I especially enjoyed the contemporary dance by two Pre-professional duos - Andrea Dusel with Elizabeth Cunningham and Nicole Seitz with Sarah Neilson - who danced with incoming company dancer Joseph Villalobos.

Displaying dance at its elegant best, ballet master Bryan Skates and rehearsal assistant Christi Bleakly performed a pas de deux that was a treat for everyone.

The entire program gave dance enthusiasts an opportunity to observe in motion the philosophy of Cuatto, who respects the talents of each dancer and is uniquely qualified to develop them.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.