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Ballet Idaho

Sophomore season ends with hope for the future


Though it has grown since striking out on its own, Ballet Idaho suffered a few missteps in its sophomore effort, evident in its final offering, the All Italian Program, which wrapped up the company's season this past weekend.

The program featured Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony, Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and Stravinsky's Pulcinella and featured skilled principals Heather Hawk, Jared Hunt and Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti. Their grace and ability to articulate the choreographer's vision is something other members of the company would be well served to observe. One of the biggest issues this season has been watching several of the dancers telegraph their next moves, rolling from one position to the next, with a lack of precision. Without that meticulousness, it feels like having a conversation with someone who is constantly thinking of what he or she is going to say next. It's uncomfortable and feels rushed.

Italian Symphony was a lovely, albeit slightly flat piece. It opened with the dancers dressed in a kind of Sound Of Music meets Olive Garden vibe, the sense of glory that should have accompanied the majestic music just not there. Following that, however, A Florentine Renaissance Necklace revealed the dancers resplendent in cream and gold. Hawk, supported by Steven Bain--who has shown great strides this season--was surrounded by six female dancers, daintily circling her in tiny steps on pointe, evoking sunlight fluttering across a melting snowcap.

Ballet master Alex Ossadnik took the reins of Vivaldi's Four Seasons and infused it with a sense of humor and drama. Long practice bars lined stage like a geometry problem, and dancers' flowy tunics were juxtaposed against the hard lines. Hawk was a force like the moon and Rothwell Affrunti was a breath of spring, her long hair loose, her movements organic.

Anastos expressed his own sense of humor and theatrics with the commedia del arte Pulcinella. The men in loose black-and-white costumes served as foils to the women's beautiful golden bodices and liquidy crepe de Chine skirts. The dancers seemed to find their groove in this piece, pulling off well-done slapstick and complicated choreography. A quartet of gradeschool-aged dancers added to the levity, and, in the titular role, dancer Andrew Taft captured the sense of mischief, mirth and melancholy requisite for any good clown. Along with the ever-changing Ballet Idaho, he's definitely one to keep an eye on in the coming season.

Friday, April 23-Saturday, April 24, 8 p.m. More information at