Last Tuesday, the Stars of American Ballet presented an astounding and thrilling performance at the Kahilu Theatre. Multiple duos and a trio performed ten pieces in several dance styles, including ballet, modern, jazz, swing, and ballroom.
The program featured excerpts of works by Balanchine, such as “Apollo” (1928), “Stars and Stripes” (1958), and Jewels(1967). Variations from other celebrated ballets included “Romeo and Juliet” (1938), choreographed by Micheal Smunin, “Year of the Rabbit” (2010), by Justin Peck, and Christopher Wheeldon’s “Five Movements, Three Repeats” (2012). The Stars of American Ballet made these demanding pieces seem brilliantly effortless.
“Light Rain” was the second piece performed in the program and was choreographed, in 1981, for the Joffrey Ballet, by Gerald Arpino. “Light Rain” was groundbreaking for its time and continues to be a profound piece for performers and audiences alike. Lighting design was integral in setting a mood for this alluring composition, with hazy shifting patterns of streaming light. Dancers Unity Phelan and Aaron Sanz’s movements and transitions were executed flawlessly and with phenomenal musicality throughout this challenging original score, composed by Russ Gauthier and Douglas Adamz.
Other parts of the program included a dance choreographed by Daniel Ulbricht to “Sing Sing Sing,” a jazz, swing piece composed by Louis Prima in 1936. Daniel Ulbricht is the Founder and director of Stars of American Ballet and performed this number alongside Danielle Diniz. Diniz moved with a lovely classical feel to her dancing. She seemed to be having the time of her life and gave a delightful performance. Ulbricht’s ability to connect and interact with the audience took the whole experience to a new level. His energetic and smooth style of dancing was marvelous to watch! Ulbricht danced in one other crowd-pleasing piece that evening, Tres Hombres.
“Tres Hombres” is performed and choreographed by Denys Drozdyuk, Daniel Ulbricht, and Sebastian Villarini. Those three charismatic dancers took to the stage with captivating precision in their fantastic tricks and dizzying turns
A personal favorite was a high-energy number called “Irresistible.” An electrifying ballroom piece danced to Michael Jackson’s hit “Smooth Criminal.” The dancers Antonina Skobina and Denys Drozdyuk, who also choreographed this piece, swept the audience off their feet with their dazzling and intricate footwork. They ingeniously fused classical ballroom with the iconic style and movements made famous by the Prince of Pop himself! Skobina and Drozdyuk dance ballroom as a duet from New York. They often perform as part of the Stars of American Ballet troupe and are known as the first ballroom duo to take to the concert dance world!
The program came to an end with the audience roaring in applause, mesmerized by the exquisite artistry of the performers. Who made even the most delicate movements, as purposeful as their jumps and turns, which were nothing less than spectacular!
About the author: Rayna Morphis is in her senior year of high school and has trained in Jazz, Tap, Modern, Musical Theatre, Competitive Dance, and Classical Ballet. She is currently undergoing a teaching apprenticeship with Virginia Holte, Founder and Artistic Director of West Hawaii Dance Theatre and Academy. They are preparing her for the upcoming summer Teacher Training Intensive with ABT for certification in the Primary ballet levels. Rayna hopes to continue in her education and certification through to the advanced levels of teaching, with the ultimate goal and desire to one day join a dance company such as The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.
Photos: Steve Roby
Read an interview with director and choreographer Daniel Ulbricht here.