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Review: Ballet Memphis at the Tarkington

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In its 25th year, Ballet Memphis, headquartered in Cordova, Tenn., has garnered national attention presenting original contemporary ballets. The company includes both 15-year veterans and recent arrivals, including Benjamin Warner, last seen dancing with IU Ballet Theater at the MAC in Bloomington.The twelve expressive dancers maintain their Southeastern musical and literary heritage while approaching universal themes.

Their March 2 performance at the Tarkington kicked off with “Being Here With Other People," which was delightfully playful, fast-moving, yet allowed for moments to capture the way children suddenly change direction and interact as a group.

Steven McMahon’s choreography to Beethoven’s Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra released joyfulness in the moment, dancers showing through facial expressions what’s going on inside.

With “Curtain of Green” choreographer Julia Adam dramatized through movement the core of Eudora Welty’s brittle short story, paired perfectly to Philip Glass's Etudes for Piano. Dancing the piece, Crystal Brothers superbly brought to life a mind locked in painful memory, re-enacting shock, loss, fear, as minimalism built into density.

Jane Comfort created “S’epanouir” as a company piece to music by Kirk Whalum, coupling and grouping with sets of catchy steps from reel dancing.

The evening closed with a gracefully articulated journey through six songs made popular by Roy Orbison. The company distinguished itself with costuming with a bit of swag — skirts are a trace longer, fuller in back. March 2 at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts.

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