Fall fell heavy on Saturday evening as rain, cold temperatures and dramatic clouds raced across our region. This did not in any way deter Verb Ballets as they put on an astounding show at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts. It was a wildly enthusiastic crowd that welcomed the dancers on stage and cheered loudly at the conclusion of each number. The evening featured three works by Antonio Brown plus works by Tom Evert and Brian Murphy.
First on the bill was ‘Continuum’ danced by Ryan De Alexandro, Ashley Cohen, Stephanie Krise, Kara Madden, Leslie Miller, Brian Murphy, Rebecca J. Nicklos, Or Sagi and Jarrod L. Sickles. Choreographed by Antonio Brown with assistance from I-Ling Liu it featured music that was remixed by Antonio. Lighting was by Trad a. Burns with costumes by Janet Bolick.
‘Continuum’ is a work of high energy synchronicity where bodies are brought together to emphasize feelings and shapes. It is high athleticism at its best as bodies fly through the air or are lifted high overhead. The piece took full advantage of the light and shadows on the stage to emphasize various choreographed moves. It was a delight to the eye.
The next piece that followed was ‘The President (1986)’, a tongue in cheek tribute to modern politics. Choreographed by Tom Evert and enthusiastically danced by Brian Murphy it portrayed in movement the story of the American politician. The musical accompaniment was Johann Strauss’s ‘Emperor Waltz’ which was fitting in both title and tempo. There is a tremendous amount of leaping in this dance (much as there is in the real political world where politicians must leap high and land lightly on their feet). Along with the footwork were many humorous facial expressions and hand gestures which helped in the telling of the story. Original Lighting Design was by George Kinney with Lighting Adaption by Trad A. Burns. Original Costumes was by Denise Palmer with Costume Adaption by Janet Bolick.
Brian Murphy had his hand in the next offering as Choreographer in ‘The Road Together’ in which dancers Ashley Cohen and Ryan De Alexandro were glued together through most of the dance sequence. They seemed possessed of super human strength as they lifted, twisted and contorted in all manners of gymnastic splendor. Trad A. Burn’s lighting was again spot on as they made use of the edges of light to emphasize the story of two lovers. Sigur Ros’s “Med Sud I Eyrum” provided the soundtrack for their short stage relationship with costumes concept by Brian Murphy.
Antonio Brown took to the stage next in his self choreographed number ‘I’m On My Way’ with music from his own remix and Trad A. Burn’s phenomenal lighting. He plays a man trying to ready himself for a night out but dealing with choices and interruptions. Antonio is an extremely physical dancer. He even walks strong. He uses his body as an instrument to convey the concept of the piece and he does this with true professionalism. It was a true delight to watch this tale unfold with its humorous climax.
After a short intermission the company of Ryan De Alexandro, Stephanie Krise, Kara Madden, Leslie Miller, Brian Murphy, Rebecca J. Nicklos, Or Sagi and Jarrod L. Sickles returned to the lights to dance ‘Passing By’ a new piece choreographed by Antonio Brown with assistance by I-Ling Liu. Music was composed by Antonio Brown, Kevin Anderson (Over the Edge), Vladislax Delay (Stand Alone) and Loscil (Motoc) and mixed and arranged by Antonio Brown. Lighting was by Trad A. Burns with Costumes by Janet Bolick.
The piece showcased not only Verb Ballets superb skills in synchronized dance but also emphasized the various talents of each member in short solo performances. It was an intriguing work that caught the attention of the audience and received a standing ovation at the end.
The entire evening was one of wonder and admiration. A well deserved standing ovation to Antonio Brown and the enourmous talent he brought to the stage. It does not take much to imagine the enormous amount of effort that goes into a performance of this caliper. From first concept to final performance there are hundreds of hours of talent put forth to bring this perfection on to the stage. I would suggest that you take note of the various pieces presented and look to future performances of Verb Ballets to see your favorites.
Behind The Scenes
No professional performing company can have any chance of staging without the dedication and hard work of those whom the audience never sees. So it is true with Verb Ballets. For Verb Ballets you have Dr. Margaret Carlson, Director; Lighting Design, Trad A. Burns; Rehearsal Director, Richard Dickenson, MFA; Executive Assistant, Maura Haas; Lighting Associate, Benjamin Gantose; Company Teachers, Richard Dickenson, MFA, Tom Evert, Pamela Pribisco and Sara Whale; Community Engagement, J. Garlando; Production Stage Manager, Lindsay Carter; Development, Erin Conway Lewis; Assitant Stage Manager, Barbee Thomas; Outreach and Education, Katie Gnagy and Finance Michelle Gregorczyk.
Verb Ballets Board of Trustees include: Jeri E. Chaikin, President; Richard Rinehart, Jr., Vice President; Robert M. Shwab, Treasurer; Ann Levin, Secretary; Ann Ennis, Immediate Past President; David R. Pierce, President Emeritus and Ashley Cohen, Ann Elder, Bonnie Femec, Meryl N. Kaplan, Maressa A Kuszewski, Brian Murphy, Donna Rae Smith and David Tholt as Board Members.
Verb Ballets Mission
Verb’s mission is to ignite audience passion and participation in contemporary dance through performance, outreach programs and community engagement.
Verb Ballets Sponsors
Major sponsors of Verb Ballets include AHS Foundation, Akron Community Foundation, The Bascom Little Fund, Bike Cleveland, Millie L. Carlson, Alan Miles Ruben, Change For Charity, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, The City of Shaker Heights, The Cleveland Foundation, Gay Community Endowment Fund Of The Akron Community Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, Kulas Foundation, The Laub Foundation, Lubrizol Foundation, The McGregor Foundation, Kenneth Milder, John P. Murphy Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Ohio Arts Council, and Shah Capital Management. Individual sponsors include Jeri Chaikin, Chuck and Ann Ennis, David R. Pierce, and Robert M. Shwab. Additional sponsors: Baumgarten & Company, LLP; Cedar Hill Communications; FITWORKS; WCLV; and WCPN/Ideastream.