Samantha Griffin and Michael Mengden
Photo credit: Peter Mueller

Boldly moving beyond tradition and enlightening us all

Cincinnati Ballet’s Artistic Director, Victoria Morgan, has long personified the person we all we want to be when we grow up. Her fierce and passionate vision of the ballet as a modern-day expression of empathy…

Cincinnati Ballet’s Artistic Director, Victoria Morgan, has long personified the person we all we want to be when we grow up. Her fierce and passionate vision of the ballet as a modern-day expression of empathy and inclusion allows audiences of all walks of life to embrace dance as an art form that profoundly reflects who we are (and should be) as a human race. While still respecting and showcasing traditional technique, she is leading the charge to open up our world by showing us the critical importance of diversity and collaboration. In a season that ranged from iconic to ground-breaking, “Bold Moves” takes us beyond tradition and enlightens us all to what is possible when we take risks, open our minds and allow the power of “new and different” to take us on a journey.

With a nod to folklore, “Bold Moves” reflects the Rule of Three which suggests that things that come in threes are more satisfying, effective and memorable. It certainly held true for these three distinct and dynamic premieres. Keeping with the theme, it is also a triumphant trifecta of diversity and collaboration across music, art and dance. Music is truly the conductor of “Bold Moves,” drawing on the creativity of multiple composers and the utter talent of the Grammy-winning Chicago-based ensemble Eighth Blackbird, it sets the tone of each unique piece and ranges from dynamic to ethereal in a way that perfectly reflects the movements on stage.

Jacqueline Damico Amador, Kathleen Dahlhoff, and David Morse
Photo credit: Peter Mueller

While two of the performances engaged a minimalist background approach, “Murder Ballades” leveraged the creativity of local artists by collaborating with ArtWorks — a local non-profit organization that is also the largest visual arts employer in the region and responsible for the absolutely stunning murals that are transforming our city — to create a visual backdrop that is stunningly beautiful and plays a critical role in evoking the playful yet powerful nature of this piece. And last but certainly not in the slightest bit least, we come to the dance itself. For those not as familiar with Cincinnati Ballet’s ensemble, they are magnificent. The depth and breadth of talent is seemingly endless, and their profound respect for one another shines through every performance. While most of us will never achieve their feats of physicality, we can relate to them as humans and the stories they bring to life on stage.

Melissa Gelfin, Samantha Griffin, Sirui Liu, Christina LaForgia Morse, Chisako Oga
Photo credit: Peter Mueller

By now, my hope is that you have already stopped reading to get tickets for the remaining shows (through Sunday 4/29); this is not one you want to miss. But if you require a little more convincing and/or you like to know before you go, here is a quick review of each piece, set at a deliberately high level to ensure that I leave you with the ability to experience and interpret these performances in your own way:

  • Cincinnati premiere of “Murder Ballades,” by New York City Ballet’s Resident’s Choreographer Justin Peck, is a dynamic and delightful performance that brings to the forefront sheer athleticism and relatability of its characters. With high-energy movements that seamlessly weave across sequential and synchronization effects, this piece perfectly combines the technique of ballet with the feel of modern street dancing. For those of us who are musically inclined, it is a welcome nostalgic nod to “West Side Story,” with a vibe that delivers across the unique art, music and dance.
  • The world premiere of “Show Yourself to Me,” by New York City choreographer Kate Weare in partnership with the dancers, is a direct contrast to the energy of the previous piece and delivers an ethereal awakening of mind, body and spirit. The stunning dance abilities of this quartet showcases the power of ballet while taking delivering deeply intimate and connected movements. Once again showcasing the “power of three,” the duo of Christina LaForgia Morse and James Cunningham partnered with the eerie notes from Eighth Blackbird and the simplicity of a spotlight, evoke one of the most stunning ballet performances in recent memory.
  • Closing out the trifecta is the world premiere of “Myoho,” by our very own resident choreographer Jennifer Archibald. There is literally no way to describe the absolute power and thrill of this performance. She elevates female performances to a level that was previously reserved for males, by reveling in their physicality and embracing their diversity. Her ability to fuse multiple dance styles into a potent interplay of emotions through dance is ground-breaking. While every moment of this piece is fantastic, the due of Cervilio Miguel Amador and James Cunningham takes it to another level.

While each piece is unique, the collective power of these performances embodies the ideal of being bold and growing beyond tradition. The approach to this season finale is exactly what we need more of in this world: running toward diversity, opening our minds to possibilities, and seeking out collaboration with others to achieve more than we can as individuals.

“We are stronger together than we are alone.”
— Walter Payton

Thank you, Cincinnati Ballet, for setting a bold vision of what humanity is capable of when we embrace the power of new and different. We look forward to seeing how you will continue to enlighten and inspire us in your 2018-2019 Season.

Christi Geary is the proud mom of two girls (8 and 11), best friend and wife of her husband Brian, and an Associate Director at the Procter & Gamble Company focused on shopper innovation insights and analytics. She enjoys and participates in art of every kind, feeds an insatiable curiosity for learning, pursues different forms of exercise when she can find the time to balance out her foodie predilection (highly recommend DanceFix and Pilates Reformer), and delights in spending time with family and friends.