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dance: Inventive Sensitivity

In his latest work, Vladimir Angelov blends American aesthetics with the European idea of making a statement.


With an impressive list of accomplishments, he's pared the process of choreographing into a three-level system, or what he refers to as "dimensionality," comprising the abstract, the story and the metaphoric. The abstract level is the music, in this case, "Piano Trio in G, Opus 65" by Czech composer Johannes Hummel. A contemporary of Mozart and student of Salieri and Joseph Hayden, Hummel failed to achieve the fame of his peers because of a congenital facial deformity that terrified many would-be patrons. "He lived in the shadow of giants," explains Angelov who finds his music deeply moving. "He uses the instruments as a dialogue. … The themes jump from one instrument to another."

The dialectic structure of the music provided an easy entry for the second level, the story. Although not an outright narrative, the ballet contains three couples in the throes of love, upset by the arrival of a single woman. Until her arrival, which threatens their happiness, movements stress ease and harmony between the couples, then take on a more frenetic and sharp tone.

For the third level, the metaphoric, Angelov relies on lighting, with help by lighting designer Stacie Johnson, to emphasize changes in the moods of his characters. "Maybe light itself is like life and love," Angelov says. "What if we match lighting cues and colors to this woman's presence?"

Though he is systematic in his approach, choreographing constantly raises questions for him: How much risk do I take? Do I please the eye, the audience, or the critic? He sees American dance as concerned with aesthetics, European dance as more interested in making a statement. "I want a message to enrich the art from, but not break it. How much can you push without destroying it?"

Wainrot premiered "Now and Then" for the Richmond Ballet in 1999. It is an ensemble piece for 11 dancers based on poems written from within the walls of concentration camps during WWII. Henry Gorecki's emotional "Third Symphony, The Symphony of Sorrows" intensifies the mood of loss in the dance, which is loosely based on his parent's emigration from Poland to Argentina to escape persecution.

Incorporating ideas from far and near, the inventiveness and sensitivity of both choreographers will make Studio Theatre 3 an engaging performance. SStudio Theatre 3 will be preformed at the Richmond Ballet, 407 E. Canal St., through April 13 at 6:30 p.m., also 9 p.m. on April 12-13; and 4 p.m. on April 14. Tickets cost $19. Call 344-0906.

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