For weeks I eagerly anticipated Texas Ballet Theater’s emergence following a year of virtual performances, and it did not disappoint.
Performed in an open-air theater, Al Fresco is a collection of classic and contemporary pieces, including selections from Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty as well as the world premiere of a pas de deux choreographed by TBT Artistic Director Ben Stevenson O.B.E.
The program begins with excerpts from The Sleeping Beauty featuring company dancers Dara Oda as Beauty, Laura Gruener as Generosity, Adeline Melcher as Charm, Rayleigh Vendt as Song, Rieko Hatato as Temperament and Paige Nyman as Lilac Fairy.
On behalf of the entire company, Nyman is the first to take to the stage. She enters onto an empty stage absent of both set and scenery. She conveys an initial sense of hesitancy which is quickly replaced with an enthralling confidence as soon as she is accompanied by the other fairies. Though each variation may be defined by effortless control, together they dance in hypnotic synchrony while consuming the entire space.
Next, while considered a pas de deux, Prelude may as well have been a pas de trois by the seamless integration of the ballet barre. Company dancers Amanda Fairweather and Riley Moyano made even the most rudimentary steps appear absolutely exquisite.
Perhaps the ballet barre and the white costumes are embodiments of classical ballet, yet conventionality was readily abandoned through grand lifts and glides as the dancers overcame the physical barring them from one another… as if a testament to what we have all experienced throughout these past few months.
In stark contrast to the soft intimacy of Prelude, we then witness Samantha Pille gracefully attack each step of the iconic Black Swan Solo. I found this transition as well as the others throughout the program to be a bit too abrupt, as it often took me a moment to acknowledge a change had occurred.