Opportunities for going contrary to expectation on the one hand, reinforcing what you’re known for on the other, and surprising and mystifying an audience on the third (an impossibility suggested by the show I’m thinking of) abound at the 12th annual IndyFringe Festival.
The mainstage at Theatre on the Square is a welcoming arena for a dance show, but up to now, I’ve only caught Dance Kaleidscope on that stage. Monday night it was a pleasure to see the Indianapolis School of Ballet’s “Beyond Ballet” there. Victoria Lyras’ 10-year-old organization is going from strength to strength, shown most recently in the announcement that theIndianapolis Symphony Orchestra will be playing for its “Nutcracker” production in December.
I liked the refreshing application of ballet to classic jazz in “Waitin’ for Katie” by Ben Pollack (in whose band Benny Goodman got his start). The “beyond” note was immediately struck as the audience took in the surprising aptness of the ballet vocabulary to 80-year-old popular music. That piece was by William Patrick Dunne, and the program surveyed a host of modern styles, with a nod to tradition in the middle, the Petipa-Minkus “Paquita Suite.” Brightly presented and sharply defined, that spiffy work opened with a pas de trois (Entrada) and moved splendidly through three variations, ending in a poised coda.
Noah Trulock, a featured guest dancer Dance Kaleidoscope, makes his first appearance in the program in Lyras’ “Machichis & /William,” a pas de deux with Alexandra James with a scenario of an encounter between an American Indiana maiden and local settler William Conner. Lyras withheld her creative side from the rest of the program except for the three-part finale, “TangoX3,” to music of Astor Piazzola.
It was a triumphant exhibition of how suitable the best tango music is for creative extrapolation beyond the conventional tango movement. A sensuous pas de deux to “Oblivion” for Trulock and Hannah Schenk was bookended by ensemble pieces “Imperial” and “Escualo” to open up the space around Lyras’ inspirations, indicating the culturally shared spirit of tango. “Oblivion” was fascinating: crisply articulated, daring, steamy, and elegant.
Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise,” to a lush arrangement for strings, was a lyrical ensemble piece, with effective counterpoint between the troupe’s two men (Noah Klarck and Luther DeMyer) and nine women. The dramatic scenario of Roberta Wong’s “We See Things As We Are” was vivid but a little hard to interpret in the excerpt presented. Finally, I have to confess an aversion to John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” so it’s a credit to DeMyer’s flair as a tap dancer that I didn’t mind it at all in this brilliant performance, where I could interpret the dance as superior to its vehicle.