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Ballet Creole seeks Glory in Messiah

In Ballet Creole's Glorious Soulful Messiah, I got to see artistic director Patrick Parson strive towards his masterwork: a revision of Handel's Messiah as interpreted by variety of African-American artists brought to life via dance.

Prefacing his choreography was Glory 1999, the work of associate choreographer, Gabby Kamino, danced by Parson, along with Kathleen Pyper, and Professional Training Program student Ingrid Diaz Cespedes. I was overwhelmed by the beautiful execution of this piece. Remember the name Diaz Cespedes: the grace in her hands alone was worth it!

After Glory 1999 was this year's incarnation of Parson's Soulful Messiah. There are many lovely things to behold in this production. Parson's choreography makes good use of the stage and the individual talents of his dancers. Soulful Messiah's strength is in the melding of classical ballet, tap dance, jazz, African, Caribbean and street dance. I have often called for more cultural flexibility in dance world and I am glad to see that Ballet Creole has embrace this concept.

Unfortunately, the melding of all the dance styles is also Parson's weakness. I recall reading that Mikhail Baryshnikov felt completely out of his element when dancing "Pas de 'Duke'" with Judith Jamison (aside: Barshinikov was awed by Jamison's brilliance). If one is trained in one dance style it is often difficult to seamlessly go to another.

But that being said, Ballet Creole must not fall into the trap that the National Ballet Company has fallen into: corps/core lack of precision. It is clear that Ballet Creole is passionate about Parson's Soulful Messiah but I did notice a lack of focus at the beginning of the work which I would attribute, in part, to that section of the score (Rejoice) not being on par with the rest.

Parson has endeavoured to create a work that allows everyone to showcase their talents - something that the dancers showed very well in their solos. However, it is up to the corps de Creole to showcase the soul of their artistic director's talent to its fullest glory.


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