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IDAHO DANCE THEATER WINTER PERFORMANCE

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Whenever audiences leap to their feet at the close of opening night, there are either way too many parents out there, or it was a damn good show. Idaho Dance Theatre's winter performance was for the most part the latter--as their effort last Thursday deserved the standing ovation they received.

Though there were quirks to the production, the three pieces showcased were imaginatively choreographed and admirably danced. Skyy, the first piece by Thax Von Reither, portrayed weather through movement in ten separate segments, the best of which featured Jessica Bastow and Alexander Stabler in an exquisite pas de deux of the northern lights dancing across the sky and another duo segment with the impressive talent of Stabler and Yurek Hansen tackling risky moves perfectly in sync.

It was obvious the dancers had a ball performing Skyy, but it was my least favorite piece for mainly cosmetic reasons. I found the hyper music annoying and the costumes disastrous as, besides being distracting and universally unflattering, light-colored unitards should just not be done. Ever. The constant smiling in this piece looked forced and seemed out of place for a dance about the weather, and I was really thrown by the ill-fitting drill team-esque 'ta da' finish complete with a grand musical finale and the cast suddenly lunging towards the onlookers, arms outstretched.

The show redeemed itself with the sultry piece that followed, Marla Hansen's Dreamtime. Music by the Tosca Tango Orchestra and aesthetic costumes were a welcome delight, as was the occasional humor thrown in throughout the piece. Breaking her dance down into segments as well, Hansen effectively captured the surrealism of dreaming, especially in 'Recurring Dream,' where the entire cast participates in a constantly shifting dynamic, creating a sort of three- dimensional Dali painting reminiscent of the utter oddity and fluidity of most dreams.

The final piece by Carl Rowe was the most ingenious as the original movement made the choreography stylistic to him--an often-rare achievement in dance. Big Top uses clowns and circus music to conceptualize Rowe's fascination with the displayed emotions of a performer versus true felt emotions, and the result is incredibly funny and light-hearted. The highlight of this piece is Yurek Hansen's masterful portrayal of a clown who loses control of his limbs. The outcome of Hansen's spastic movements combined with his alternating expressions (from confused awe at his sudden dilemma to triumphant innocence when he thinks he's cured) is hilarious and a reason to see the show in itself.

The directors of Idaho Dance Theatre have a knack for using the range of skill in their company well, and though this year's performers were comparatively small in number and younger than IDT's previous casts, the less seasoned quality of their winter production was balanced out by the excited energy of the dancers and their choreography. Even with the steep $20 ticket price, it was a great way to spend a night out in Boise.