Using their time, talent to help others

Dancers join choreographed effort to raise funds for Edward Stewart scholarship fund


August 25, 2006|By MARY JOHNSON | MARY JOHNSON,Special to The Sun

The fourth annual Dancing for Dancers held Saturday at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts raised about $7,000 to benefit the Edward Stewart Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Stewart was the founder of the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis (later the Ballet Theatre of Maryland) and served as the company's director for 22 years until his death from lung cancer in July 2002.

He had expressed his wish to establish a scholarship fund to provide financial assistance for classical ballet training for promising students in Maryland.

This year, 13 scholarships worth about $3,000 total were awarded.

In addition to the scholarships, this was the third dance concert to offer a choreographic competition and prize.

All dancers and choreographers donate their time and talents. Judges for the competition included Stewart's longtime dance partner, New York City resident Janice Barringer; Alvin Mayes of the University of Maryland; Thomas Parlon of Washington, D.C.; Stephanie Powell of Baltimore; and Heidi Robitshek, who teaches seminars in Mexico, the United States and Germany.

Stewart's friend and frequent guest choreographer, Anton Wilson, announced the winner for the choreographic competition.

Saturday's program in Annapolis opened with a classical ballet choreographed by Caryl Maxwell and danced by members of the Columbia Chamber Ballet to Mozart's "Alleluia."

Choreographed by Melissa Wolfe-Rosebro, the modern dance "Hide and Seek" followed. Members of the Mid-Atlantic Ballet Company offered a playfulness to evoke girls on a playground.

Danced to Steven Curtis Chapman's music and choreographed by Sandra Prehoda, "Remembering You" was performed by members of the White Marsh Ballet Academy. They moved gracefully in filmy peach costumes to create a lovely picture.

A high point of the first half was a modern dance choreographed by Kristen Weiser called "Uakti" and executed by four members of the Pennsylvania Regional Ballet to music by Philip Glass.

This highly imaginative ballet, which won the best-choreography prize, was joyously danced with athleticism and perfectly synchronized by Jewely Gruber, Emily Replogle, Meghan Taglang and Thana Theofanis.

"Enter Sandman" by the Columbia Chamber Ballet and "Big Leg Woman" by the Collective were both well-danced but a bit anticlimactic after what preceded.

The second half of the program opened with "If Only for One Night," a work brilliantly choreographed by Stephanie Powell from a Luther Vandross song. Torens Johnson not only transcended gender as he danced in a white gown but also seemed to defy human limitations, smoothly executing the most demanding moves while soulfully expressing the innate blues of the song in his every movement.

For sheer genius and courage, Powell and Johnson's work was noteworthy.

Other highlights of the second half included Philadelphia Grand Prix semifinals winner John Mark Giragosian of the Maryland Youth Ballet, who showed artistic promise and superb athleticism, Powell's expression of deep religious faith in "Yes" with a nine-member dance company, and choreographer Cindee Velle's "The Blue Danube," beautifully danced by the Columbia Center Ballet.

Last on the program was the pas de deux from "Coppelia," danced exquisitely by Bat-Erdene Udval and Yevgenia Ai Singur. Stewart, who welcomed Udval, a Mongolian native, to the company in 2001, had described him as "one of the most accomplished principal dancers in our 20-year history."

He lived up to this description last weekend, producing dazzling spins and leaps while displaying flawless technique and sensitive partnering skills.

His and Ai Singur's performance ranked as the classical high point of the program and the audience's hands-down favorite.

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