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Classical 101

Everything Was Beautiful at the Ballet

BalletMet Columbus 2015
BalletMet said farewell to five retiring dancers during yesterday's performance of 'American Masters.' Their sendoff could not have been more lovely.

If you've ever seen me get up from a chair- never mind dance- you'll know why I seldom write about our friends at BalletMet.

I'm ashamed to say that it wasn't until working with this marvelous company last fall on Twisted (thank you again, Edwaard Liang) that I got to see the day to day life as a dancer-mystique. I couldn't breathe watching them, let alone imagine how these dancers do what they do.

I did become a fan. For years I used to book dancers. "Stars of..." and fill in the blank of any Russian city from Arcangelsky to Novosibirsk. That was me on the phone in the late 1980s hawking road shows nationwide. That didn't mean I learned about art. I learned bus routes, cheap hotels and local doctors and where to get birth control 24/7. Need your feet massaged in Butte, Montana? I'm your man, but I didn't learn much about dance.

I know what I like, I know what's great, and I like all the great dancing this past weekend when Ballet Met presented American Masters. Settled comfortably in a sold out Ohio Theater, our pre-curtain buzz was interrupted by a fire alarm. Buzz continued whilst we were hugging the curb of State Street. Once back inside, we were treated to Edwaard Liang's new creation The Art of War.  I loved the athleticism and the sexiness and the power of the geometric shapes that vibrated the story and concept. 


Thinking of You was created by David Nixon and served as Jimmy Orrante's farewell vehicle. More hunkmeister than gazelle, Jimmy danced and kicked and flirted like a young man (Compared to some of us, he is today very young indeed.) You could tell this performance was emotional for his colleagues. The man himself sailed through- literally. Applause for Orrante and company shook the walls.


Five splendid dancers retired with yesterdays' performance. Carrie West, (Has there ever been a lovelier Princess Aurora? No.) Courtney Muscroft, Christopher Ellis and the charismatic, can't-keep-your-eyes-offa-him Jackson Sarver. Sad, too is the departure of General Manager Cheri Mitchell, one of the great arts administrators and a doll of a woman.

I loved James Kudelka's Real Life and loved Caroline Shaw 's Partita for 8 Voices as much. And everyone loved the glorious Fancy Free. This classic by Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein is not much as older as I am, and is fancy and free where I ain't. The final salute to the retiring dancers reiterated the strength and grace of BalletMet.  Beautiful young dancers, like Martin Roosaare and Emily Gotschall (be still my heart) will be brought along nicely.

The farewells were sad for many of us, but I suspect, as the late Beverly Sills said at her final curtain call, "The best is yet to be."

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.