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Published: Sunday, 4/17/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Flawless execution shows off Cassandra ballet students' talent

BY SALLY VALLONGO
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

Young and younger dancers spun and leaped across the Franciscan Center stage Saturday night, filling the big space with lithe and graceful movement during "An Evening at the Ballet," the annual production of the Cassandra School of Ballet.

The nearly two-hour program was pegged with well-staged classical ballet numbers set by Cassandra Macino and guest choreographer Frank Ohman.

Several of the school's advanced students also showed off their choreographic talent in interpretations of contemporary Christian music.

The opener, a restaged version of the "Sleeping Beauty Valse," set a high bar for performance, revealing trademarks of Macino's teaching tradition -- correct body alignment, strong extension, and very graceful arms.

Even the young dancers who followed with far simpler choreography to a movement of Handel's "Water Music" revealed the same training and the beginnings of strong stage presence and poise.

Macino dubbed her setting for the song "He Will Quiet You," as creative dance. Part pantomime, part ballet, it drew the most oohs and aahs of the evening for the tiniest of dancers.

Mallory Hunyor was the first of several students to show off individual gifts as interpretive dancers; Libbey Colley, and Nicole Buchholz and Emily Beasecker in a pas de deux also had created their own choreography.

"Souvenir de Florence," Ohman's work opening the second half of the program was a stand-out: a complex series of dancing duos, trios, and quartets melding into one with the same visual complexity as the Tchaikovsky score.

Another truly effective religious piece featured senior dancers Maria Clark Anna Hunyadi, and Megan Stoepler performing Macino's choreography as harpist Grace Olsen and flutist Ashley Forney performed an elegant version of the hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth.

The only boy on the program, spunky Steven Speer, was surrounded by Erin Decker, Mackenzie Jagodzinski, Evelyn Maloney, and Jillian Speer for a tap-esque number to "Yankee Doodle Dandy."

For verve and high energy, two of the final numbers ranked at the top. The first was Beatles in Motion, Macino's setting of three of the Fab Four's most famous songs, using period popular dance from the 1960s to 1980s.

And to bring the evening to a rousing close, there was the evergreen celebration, with sleek contemporary moves and lots of spirit.

Aside from a few sound-system glitches in the first few numbers, the technical execution was flawless.

A simple backdrop framed by curtain legs was the set, augmented periodically by a large overhead swag.

Dramatic lighting by Mark Moralez and many, many costume changes helped set distinct themes for each dance segment.

"An Evening at the Ballet" will repeat at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Franciscan Center at Lourdes College in Sylvania.

Tickets are available at the door.



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