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Guest post: Another look at Ballet West's "The Lottery"
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

From Tribune dance writer Kathy Adams:

After reviewing Ballet West's "The Lottery" program on opening night, I wanted to see another cast (there were at least three) performing Val Caniparoli's work, as well as dancers in the revivals of Helen Pickett's "But Never Doubt I Love" and Nicolo Fonte's "Bolero."

At this performance, I was blown away by soloist Sayaka Ohtaki and Christopher Ruud in the opening pas de deux of "But Never Doubt." Ohtaki is so musical that at times it seemed as if she could also be in a dance with the on-stage pianist Jared Oaks. She's a very expressive dancer, and because she has the technique to back it up, she can draw the music out, hanging on a note until it gently slips away from under her. Soloist Adrian Fry and artist Alexander MacFarlan were two parts of a whole. McFarlan is young, and it's great to see him get challenging roles and to see that he more than meet the challenge.

That's also true in "The Lottery" of artist Trevor Naumann, Joshua Whitehead, Jenna Rae Herrera, and others. Without the serious and sophisticated score by Robert Moran, which was commissioned by the company, the ballet wouldn't have had the consistent underpinning that carried it to success. I first saw "The Lottery" from the balcony and actually prefer it from that viewpoint because you can see the story unfold cinematically.

But sitting in orchestra seats, and with this particular cast, I could see the dancers who performed as the town's small population were interestingly varied. Additionally, I could see first soloist Elizabeth McGrath resist and pull away from her possible fate as conducted by her on-stage husband Michael Bearden, who was in charge of work's central event.

The pairing of principal Christiana Bennett and Adrian Fry is so smart. Their style and phrasing is similar. which could be a result of each having such amazing technique, as well as the physical pairing due to their similarity in height and strength, giving a sense of the ease within the precision.

In seeing "Bolero" again, I found Catherine Lawrence to be at her best in the opening of this ballet. The tension between she and Michael Bearden is the set-up for the release that eventually must happen to make this piece successful. I also thought Arolyn Williams to be more intriguing in "Bolero" than any work I have seen her in. She is energized and completely on top of the beat instead of behind it, as it seems she can sometimes enjoy languishing on the note too long.

I don't especially like the ending of "Bolero," as it seems like a gimmick that the ballet doesn't need. I love the use of opposition in the body in the actual movement — a sort of a wind-up and release that makes movement initiate internally. Again, Adrian Fry seems to really understand this, although his hands and wrists are a little distracting — they need to be as connected as the rest of him.

This the kind of performance that I could see over and over, as each new cast reveals more and more about the work.

Kathy Adams

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