CONTEMPORARY WONDERFUL, May 5, 2018

While watching the first of three premieres that comprise Contemporary Wonders at the Dr Phillips Center Saturday night, I couldn’t get the quote from Robert Hill in Orlando Weekly(Christopher Belt) out of my mind: “Arcadian Broad is the future of ballet.”  Thoughts of Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, pioneers of Modern Dance. And others who ushered in post-modernism:Merce Cunningham and José Limón.

Finally, I thought of Balanchine whose focus was on the dance rather than the story. It is time for something new, with gratitude to those that came before. The Orlando Ballet is now, or “contemporary.” It’s the ballet that doesn’t bore the average person whose attention is difficult to get and keep in a busy world.

Jessica Lang’s “From Foreign Lands and People” is well-executed by the talented company showing they are not limited to their own exuberant creations. An aside to Daniel Benevides, for everything you do!
After intermission, I’m anticipating what the future of ballet(Broad)has wrought.And he has “wrought it” by composing the music, writing directing and choreographing his own interpretation of the Mad Hatter’s tale from Alice in Wonderland. Broad loves to tell a story and he is an actor in a dancer’s body expressing the pain of the hatter’s longing in unexpected ways. He expresses true madness, maybe one that accompanies genius, beyond his 22 years. He goes places that I imagine are hard to come back from.
Kate-Lynn Robichaux is as always lovely as Alice transforming from past characters with apparent ease. So dainty and small. So Alice. Broad’s sister Angelina is also a lovely Alice. Yes, there is more than one Alice and more than one Broad.
Nick Patterson’s White Rabbit is funny and charming. Taylor Sambola as The Red Queen shows us the star she is, beautiful, threatening, not to be ignored. Everyone in this piece is outstanding. It leaves me with a broken heart for Broad’s poor Mad Hatter. And stunned with excitement with the creation of this ballet which will be presented in its entirety next season.
Finally, Love Is, the last piece choreographed by Robert Hill, Executive Director of the ballet, includes the big moving voice of Sisaundra Lewis; Lewis has toured with Celine Dion and been a winner on the Voice. She sings to pieces choreographed by Hill and danced by the whole company. Some of my favorites are: Killing Me Softly With His Song, Hallelujah ( Leonard Cohen), and the encore, “Love Somebody.”
The audience is already loving Hill’s creation but at the encore all of these talented dancers cut loose and the audience goes wild. Robert Hill, is often the guy in the background, while Arcadian and others shine. Mr. Hill, thank you for being the mentor. “Everything’s Coming Up Roses for You.”  You left me breathless.
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The Beauty In the Beast

FINALLY. I saw Arcadian Broad’s Beauty and the Beast presented by the Orlando Ballet. The extravagant production at the Dr. Phillips Center was conceived, choreographed, and composed by Arcadian Broad (AKA Boy Wonder). It was orchestrated and conducted by Julian Bond and performed by the Central Florida Community Arts orchestra. 07C22ED5-93C1-49AC-B2E8-4EE622E71CC6

The possibilities for Broad who also performs as as Gaston are limitless. I didn’t quite understand why some of the scenes were danced in twenties costumes to flapper tempos, but these flights of imagination reflect Broad’s vision which includes humor and fantasy.

The company is outstanding, sometimes devastatingly beautiful as they were in Romeo and Juliet performed earlier this season. They are always quirky, and I love them for it. Artistic director Robert Hill is pure genius bringing them altogether and allowing a young man like Broad to be artist in residence with artistic freedom. I was over ballet until I discovered this company.

Outstanding cast members: Belle: Katie Lynn-Robichaux, a delicate beauty with inner strength

Beast: Daniel Benavides, vulnerable and menacing, all-time favorite of mine.

The Enchantress: Taylor Sambola, wickedly enchanting

Every character is distinctive. Every dancer is outstanding. This is the Orlando Ballet.

As for Broad, he was charming and appropriately offensive as Gaston, but there is a bigger story for him. I imagine Broadway shows or opera or maybe it will continue to be ballets that he creates or co-creates. Bravo, Arcadian Broad. Bravo.

March 18, 2018

Dracula from the Orlando Ballet

A great gloom envelopes the Orlando Ballet production of Dracula making it a testament to all those who relish dark tales. I love a ballet that tells a big story, and this one tells the biggest, the struggle between darkness and light.I avoid tales of terror but enchanted by the set, lighting and the tellers of the tale. . ..I was forced to go to the dark side. The looming figure of Dracula (Daniel Benavides)and his power over the innocent townspeople, beautiful heroines(Anamarie McGinn Harris, Kate Robichaux) and Arcadian Broad’s Jonathan Barker is deeply understood. All succumb.

When Dracula lifts his arms to demand a standing ovation, he already has one.Benavides,the wonderful ensemble, and choreographer Michael Pink are victorious. Oh yes, they dance and how they dance. Each one dancing his way into the dark scenario. From the demons groveling on the floor, the ballerinas floating in air, to the great Dracula in red commanding the stage.

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Uncorked is one of my favorite Events to appear at the Abbey

Members of the Orlando Ballet meet their audience in a smaller venue and show us how they prepare for the big shows at the Phillips center. Tonight the artistic director Robert Hill presented some of the songs that will be featured at A Tribute to Harriett:Gala Event on February 25. Songs from Grease, Fancy Free and my favorite “Somewhere” from West Side Story featuring Arcadian Broad and Kate Robichaux in a most romantic pas de deux.

The second part of the show focused on choreography on the spot and spontaneous musical compositions by Broad. It was also a pleasure to see Daniel Benevides featured as a dancer in the newly choreographed piece. I’ll always remember his spectacular performance as Dracula. And Broad, always a miracle.

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“Uncorked” presented by the Orlando Ballet at the Abbey is an absolute treasure

Watching the artistic director, Robert Hill, turn over the moves for spontaneous choreography to his dancers is a delight. Ever a surprise. Tonight wonder boy Arcadian Broad is asked to compose music for the ballet on the spot. This further complicates the drama of the newly choreographed piece called Romeo and Juliet and featuring Daniel Benavides( whose looming presence as Dracula will not be forgotten). His partner, Ani Boer did the impossible things asked of her by the ambitious young choreographers.

Several of the dances were accompanied by members of the Orlando Philharmonic. One of those, “The Dying Swan” performed by Kate Robichaux with special guests, Eric Jacobsen, Music Director of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Deniz Uz, accompanist was especially moving.

The entire company was charming. When asked for one word Orlando Ballet brings to mind, many answered family. This unity gives their work the transcendence it so often achieves on the big stage and makes the whole bunch of them a lot of fun. Don’t miss another “Uncorked” at the Abbey. The intimacy here brings a whole new dimension to seeing the dancers in the big shows like Dracula and Beauty and the Beast.

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My Favorite Moments from Best of Broadway, Orlando Ballet’s tribute to Harriett Lake

“Hey Big Spender.” Seeing Daniel Benavides take on the large presence he can bring to the stage while surrounded by lovely and talented young women vying for his attention. He does not even have to move to be a standout as the big spender. In every scene he’s in, he commands attention, notably “CellBlock Tango.” And of course in his lead role in “This is the Moment” choreographed by Arcadian Broad. Exquisite.

The Ballet Scene from AMERICAN IN PARIS. Elegant, original choreography from Arcadian Broad. The most romantic moment of the night is when Broad and Kate Robichaux come together in the conclusion. We believe the romance.

The only thing that could be more romantic is seeing Broad dance with his real life love Taylor Sambola in the scenes from GREASE. Their pleasure in dancing together is obvious. Then to see Broad cut loose in the sequence from FOOTLOOSE and dance with so much joy is unforgettable. Arcadian Broad shines in every number. He can’t help himself!

In the last two songs, “Sing, Sing, Sing” and “One Singular Sensation,” the full company is a wildly talented troupe of young dancers whose enthusiasm brings much delight. No wonder Harriett loves them so much, as does their artistic director, Robert Hill. What a company! What a town!

Rodrigo Lopresti and Maayan Laufer Are Stand Outs In Two Brilliant Films at The Orlando Film Festival, October 2017

Rodrigo Lopresti and Maayan Laufer are the darlings of the Orlando Film Festival. Director Ed Love praised and introduced them before showing his own popular film.And anybody who saw their films is talking about them.

Lopresti stars in The Ningyo directed by Miguel Ortega which has already won awards at prestigious film festivals and has at least three nominations in Orlando.The film set in 1909 is about the search for mythological creatures by a Faustian character.Lopresti’s Marlowe is as authentic as the magical and strange setting he finds himself in.He is the real thing.

Yet the other film Heart Brakers is my favorite. The work of Lopresti(director) and Laufer(producer and co-creator) is a tale of obsession, addiction.The two are exquisite on screen in a story so intensely moving and absorbing you can’t take your eyes off of them and not just because they are beautiful.

Here is a link to the trailer of The Ningyo

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Rodrigo Lopresti and Maayan Laufer

Masterworks with the Orlando Ballet features three programs. What’s your favorite?

After the Orlando Ballet Masterworks program at the Dr. Phillips Center Friday night, there was quite a bit of talk. Which program did you like best? A little girl told her Mom she liked the third one (Jerome Robbins “Fancy Free).Her father said, “I’m a Sinatra man myself” (SInatra Suite choreographed by Twyla Tharp and music by Frank Sinatra). A sophisticated lady spoke with authority, “I’ve always liked Balanchine’s “Serenade.” Everybody had a favorite.

The beauty of “Serenade” showcased the company’s ample ability to dance Balanchine as they literally swept the audience away with their grace. There’s nothing worse than a badly performed ballet, and nothing more exciting than the beauty of a well executed and artistic one. This company continues to thrill. The ladies’ costumes were exquisite as were the dancers in them.

I’ve wanted to see the “SInatra Suite” performed since the show debuted in London and then in New York on Broadway. It was a great pleasure to see Kate-Lynn Robichaux and Arcadian Broad romance the audience as they danced to Sinatra. Quite beautiful. My two favorites from the Suite were “All The Way” and “One for My Baby.”

I appreciate Ms. Robichaux most in her elegance and Mr. Broad when he is unleashed as he was in the final number asking for “One More For the Road.”

And my favorite? I’m with the little girl. I adored “Fancy Free.” The sailors(Nick Patterson, Telmo Moreira, and Arcadian Broad) were absolutely charming and funny as they danced their way through a bar trying to pick up some lovely ladies by showing off their moves. The ladies (Blair Bagley, Kate-Lynn Robichaux, and Jessica Assef) all prove to be wonderful actors as well as prima ballerinas. I always like Daniel Benavides even when he’s standing still as he was as the bartender in much of this piece.He could have been a character actor. Always significant. As is Arcadian Broad who adds enthusiasm and commitment to every program he’s in. Bravo, Orlando Ballet and Orlando Philharmonic.You made me love you!

Photographs from Orlando Ballet. 

Orlando Ballet’s Swan Lake…. YES!!!!!

“Everyone is beautiful at the ballet” was never more true than at tonight’s performance of Swan Lake by the Orlando Ballet.Chiaki Yasukawa was perfection as Odette, while Arcadian Broad brought his usual exuberance, elegance and humanity to Prince Siegfried. It was exciting to see him in this classic role, a thrilling performance for both as evidenced in the rousing audience response. The company was delightful, both humorous and dramatic. The swans working beautifully as an ensemble. And finally I got to see Daniel Benavides in another role worthy of him, the twisted Von Rothbart, which he made big, as he did his Dracula.I stood with the cheering audience, and I must admit to tears of joy at the great success of this company I have come to love. Bravo!