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Dance review: Minnesota Ballet’s ‘Moving Beyond’ offers a variety of choreography

An ill wind blows no good, but the Great Windstorm of ’16 that drove the Minnesota Ballet from its perch high atop the Board of Trade Building has resulted in a windfall for the company’s patrons. Moving “Moving Beyond” to the College of St. Scholastica’s Mitchell Auditorium means the number of balletomane that can enjoy this most intimate of dance experiences has at least doubled because of the new setting.

Friday night’s performances consisted of a quintet of diverse original pieces by five different choreographers, four of whom came up with their costume concepts as well. It was also the first opportunity to see the company’s new dancers be given opportunities to shine.

Set to the rhythmic pulsating cello of Joan Jeanrenaud’s hypnotic “Vermont Rules,” company member Marta Kelly’s “Complex Deceptions” puts two pairs of dancers through a striking geometric progression of different pairings. Kelly’s piece offered what I would call post-modern ballet moves, as when the traditional lift of the ballerina is done by a partner who is bent over. The soloist section plays out against the cello as almost a percussion instrument.

“Rounding the Apse,” with music by former company member Ryan Homsey, begins with Sam Neale encircled by five ballerinas, silhouetted against a turquoise backdrop. Laura Goodman’s piece features Neale paired with Emily Reed, and then Suzie Baer, her face suggesting pain and loss, in a solo piece. The verticalness of this captivating piece reminded me of Agnes de Mille’s “Dream Ballet” from “Oklahoma!” albeit without the stylized rigidity.

Amber Burns edited and arranged Garry Eister’s “Quintet for Glass and Strings” for her piece, “Breakthrough.” Six barefoot dancers end up collapsed on the floor, turning over back and forth in languorous rolls. The ebb and flow suggested a tidal influence, even in the sequence that was perfectly synchronized to the music. It was during this piece that I first noticed how their giant shadows dancing across the walls of the auditorium.

LilaAnn Coates White picked the most overtly dramatic music, from Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, for the most explicitly narrative piece of the evening (it even had props). In “Love, Naught,” Marta Kelly dances the main role of the Woman, who moves through time from the Memory of the Older Man (Nikolaus Wourms) and his Wife (Baer), to the Memory of Her First Love (Charles Clark), to the appearance of the Younger Man (Neale). I liked the nice set of turns Wourms put Baer through, Kelly’s reaction to her first kiss, the second kiss more than the first, and the wicked little twist and the low level lifts as the end.

“It Just Doesn’t Have to Be” was a four movement piece, set by Wourms to Bach’s Suites for Cello. The Movement II – Menuett with newcomers Sarah White and Jordan Carney nicely captured both the mood and the music: there was actual menuetting involved and the pair earned a burst of applause for their duet. Movement III – Sarabande saw Reed partnered with Ryo Munakta and displayed Wourms affinity for turning a classical ballet move into a commonplace moment, like having a girl sit on your knee.

If you go

What: Minnesota Ballet’s “Moving Beyond”

Where: Mitchell Auditorium, College of St. Scholastica

When: 7 p.m. today

Tickets: $20 for adults, $17 students, (218) 529-3741

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