The big and informative program didn't list it as a title, but the performance presented by the Sono Novo Chamber Orchestra and Ballet Theatre of Toledo last night in Trinity Episcopal Church was a triumph of artistic synergy.
What the program listed was Antonio Vivaldi's evergreen "The Four Seasons," and Anthony's new composition, "A Narnian Fantasy."
Witness to the collaboration of the forces of Wayne Anthony, composer and conductor of SNCO, and those of Nigel Burgoine, choreographer and artistic director of BTT, the capacity audience experienced the electric crackle of collaboration at its fullest.
The confluence of witty and lyrical original music performed by ace musicians and inspired choreography brought to life by beautiful young dancers, gave a firsthand look at how a creative whole can explode into so much more than the sum of its parts.
The evening opened with the Anthony work, "A Narnian Fantasy," the summation, he noted in the program, of some 20 years of experimentation and musical jottings brought to fruition in a five-part tone poem that follows the general C.S. Lewis tale about young English children and their encounter with a magical world.
Each movement sets a distinctive style, the better to describe the beloved narrative. Each major character: Aslan, the heroic lion; the conniving White Witch, and the children, Susan, Peter, Lucy, and Edmund, benefits from identifiable themes.
To this rich orchestral mix, Burgoine, who loves a good story, created a ballet that tells the musical tale in lively characterizations and lovely solo and duo moments. Watching and listening to this well-crafted physical drama, it was impossible to tell which came first: the music or the dance.
Strong performances by Sarah Squillante, Madison Riley, Patrick McCrae, Spencer Hack, Lauren Burns (the Witch) and Tommy Cobau (Aslan) advanced the story and accentuated the busy doings of a host of small mythical creatures.
Post-intermission came the Vivaldi, known to most in the house, yet made new again both by Cecilia Johnson's fresh and spirited solos in all four of the seasons, and by the elegant dancing of the BTT company.
Burgoine captured the Baroque transparency of the score with staging that relied on strong diagonal lines, variation upon variation of step combinations, and some of the most graceful and haunting pas de deux work ever presented.
Each season had its own dancers and a repeated pattern - a small corps of girls in floaty pastel dresses to open, then a pair, boy and girl, to show their balletic stuff, and finally an all-dance with soloists and corps.
While all the dancers shared great poise, correct attitude, and graceful arms, the duos in each movement revealed a higher level of accomplishment, Caitlin Riley and Douglas Burkhardt captured the evanescence of spring, which Madison Riley and Spencer Hack were sprightly summer spirits. As fall, Jenna Frederick and Tommy Cobau were powerful and beautifully attuned, and Sarah Gray and Patrick McCrae portrayed winter with great drama and lift.
Sono Novo Chamber Orchestra and Ballet Theatre of Toledo will repeat the program at 2 p.m. today in Trinity Episcopal Church, Adams and St. Clair streets. Ticketsare $15-20 at the door.
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