Opus Colorado

The world class Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Jean-YvesThibaudet give a world class performance!

Friday evening’s (January 26) performance by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra was the finest I have ever heard them give. There is no question that they have steadily improved in this last year, and I attribute that to the fact that the change of leadership at the board level has improved their morale as an organization immeasurably. Equally, if not more importantly, is the fact that they now have a new conductor who gives them credit for being the superb musicians that they are. In saying that, I certainly do not wish to take away anything from Maestro Justin Brown who conducted Friday’s performance. Brown is a remarkable conductor, and listening to the orchestra perform under him, and watching their reaction to him and his reaction to them, immediately made me sense that there was strong admiration exchanged.

I will briefly quote from his bio statement that appears on his website:

“Born in England, Justin Brown studied at Cambridge University and at Tanglewood with Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein; he later served as an assistant to both Bernstein and Luciano Berio. He made his highly acclaimed conducting debut with the British stage première of Bernstein’s Mass. Also in demand as a pianist, Mr. Brown has garnered high praise for his performances on both sides of the Atlantic. He has played and directed concertos by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich, and performs regularly in chamber music series both in the United States and Germany.

“As guest conductor, Justin Brown has worked with many of the world’s top orchestras, including, in the UK: the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony; in Scandinavia: the Oslo Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic and Swedish Chamber Orchestra; in mainland Europe: the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Symphony, Musikkollegium Winterthur and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse; in the United States: the Indianapolis and Dallas symphonies; and further afield: the Malaysian Philharmonic, São Paolo Symphony, Sydney Symphony and the Tokyo Philharmonic.”

Immediately, it was apparent that Maestro Brown is a conductor who works hard at communicating with the orchestra. He is an emphatic and energetic conductor, and his motions, and therefore his requests of the orchestra, are clear and concise. In his book entitled The Art of French Horn Playing, Philip Farkas explains a practical reality about conductors and orchestras: “… that, even though you may mentally disagree with him [ the conductor] entirely, he will be inclined to think of you as his kind of musician. To have a modern conductor think of you this way is not ungood!” The point of bringing this issue up is that it was so refreshing Friday evening to see and sense the feeling of mutual respect between Maestro Brown and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. It has been quite a while since I have heard and seen the CSO perform with what I perceived to be an absolute joy in what they were doing, where they so openly displayed their own excitement and love for good music. The one exception was their performance of Hansel and Gretel a few weeks ago, under their new conductor, Maestro Andrew Litton. It truly seems to me that the CSO has rediscovered their past before all of the painful turmoil.

The CSO opened their Friday evening concert with a musical scene from The Trojans, H.133a (H numbers in Berlioz are from the thematic catalogue compiled by D. Kern Holloman) entitled “Royal Hunt and Storm” by Hector Berlioz. In his memoirs, Berlioz briefly discusses his fascination with the poet Virgil, and his reaction to Dido and Aeneas. A further circumstance was his trip to Weimar in 1854, to see his good friend Franz Liszt. It was there that he fell into a discussion with Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein about writing a “vast opera.” The opera was completed in 1858, but The Trojans requires such singers that are almost as legendary as the Trojans themselves because of the vocal range so it is seldom performed.

In the performance of this opening work, the CSO was clean, and absolutely crystalline in their clarity. Berlioz requires a large orchestra, and all of the sections are allowed to have their separate moments, but, I must say, that Friday evening, to my mind, the French horn section was a standout. But I hasten to add, that every single musician, and every section in this orchestra is superb. The enthusiasm and musicianship that this orchestra displayed on Friday night makes the statement such as “their phrasing was excellent” sound completely trite. It was truly a stunning performance.

Following the Berlioz, the renowned Jean-Yves Thibaudet joined the CSO for the performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto Nr. 5, Opus 103, otherwise known by its nickname, “The Egyptian.”

I have heard Thibaudet perform many times, and indeed, he has performed with the Colorado Symphony many times. He has always been a world-class pianist, and he startled the world as a young prodigy. He was born in 1961, and he is now in his 50s, and, as a maturing artist–musician, I can tell you that he is simply better than ever. His technique seems to be guided by the fact that he is a musician, and both qualities are absolutely astonishing.

Published in 1896, the Piano Concerto Nr. 5 was the second work (The other was the Violin Sonata Nr. 2) that Camille Saint-Saëns wrote in this same year on a journey to Egypt (It is an interesting side note that on his trip to Egypt, he traveled through the city of Milan, where the young Arturo Toscanini conducted Danse Macabre. The ordinarily wasp-ish Saint–Saëns told Toscanini that he had chosen a perfect tempo.). It is not clear who the first individual was to give this concerto its nickname, The Egyptian, but it was certainly not Saint-Saëns. The nickname comes from the fact that it contains many themes that “describe” things that Saint-Saëns had seen on his travels. It is unusual to see a concerto that is treated in this fashion, because most descriptive pieces were limited to small forms such as preludes or small suites. Indeed, many of the critics who heard this work for the first time described it in very expansive terms. One critic said, “Never have we heard a work more colorful or gripping; it is from Rubens, from Raphael, from Michelangelo, for one finds in it fantasy, grace and power, and the listener admires at the same time the incomparable structure…” Saint-Saëns certainly described this work as “a kind of voyage in the East,” and he certainly did include themes such as a Nubian love song that he heard being sung by a boatman on the Nile while he was traveling downstream. He also made liberal use of the melodic minor scale rather than the more traditional harmonic minor, and this certainly adds to the Egyptian flavor. If one listens very carefully, one can hear hints of other composers in this work. These hints are certainly coincidental, but in the last movement, there is a short passage that is reminiscent of Scott Joplin.

From the outset, it was immediately noticeable that Thibaudet and the orchestra were following each other instantly on very difficult miniature crescendos in the small eight note phrases that Saint-Saëns wrote. I could not find my score to this work, but the small phrases are only separated by a sixteenth note of time value and the tempo is quite rapid. Its difficulty would be similar to a ballet dancer doing a pas de bourée couru flawlessly across the stage twice. One does not get to hear this concerto very often because of its extreme difficulty: it was even used for a while at the Paris Conservatory as an examination piece. The second movement was full of incredible passion from both the pianist and the orchestra. Both the first and second movement show innovations in form: the first movement begins as a Sonata form but clearly it evolves into something totally different. The second movement is without question, a fantasy. It is the third movement that is, without question, the most difficult. In a letter to the pianist Stéphane Raoul Pugno, Saint-Saëns states that in this concerto, “It is virtuosity itself I mean to defend. It is the source of the picturesque in music; it gives the artist wings to help him escape from the prosaic and commonplace. The conquered difficulty is in itself a source of beauty.”

It is most interesting to note that as Thibaudet performs, he simply sits at the piano and plays it. He certainly does move where necessary to help with dynamics and getting across the keyboard, and there are certainly moments when you can tell that what he is doing is extremely difficult. The answer to his musicianship comes in the incredible dynamics, phrasing, soaring melodic lines, and rapidity of execution that accompanies all of those qualities. There are no excessive motions, no looking at the ceiling, no yanking hands off the keyboard and swinging them behind himself, or clutching his heart with one hand as he plays with the other.

Thibaudet is, unquestionably, one of the best pianists in the world.

Following the intermission, the CSO performed two of Ottorino Respighi’s famous symphonic poems, the well-known Fountains of Rome, and The Pines of Rome, which are among the most descriptive of his works.

Ottorino Respighi (1879 – 1936), is Italy’s only Impressionist composer. Respighi was born in Bologna, Italy, and studied violin at the Liceo Musicale with Frederico Sarti, and composition with Giuseppe Martucci. Perhaps the strongest influence was his composition study with Nikolai Rimsky- Korsakov in St. Petersburg, Russia. Korsakov is not only known as a composer and teacher of composition, but he is well-known as being one of the best orchestrators, and for his book, Principals of Orchestration. It was Respighi’s remarkable skill in orchestration that gave him the ability to transfer his powerful visual experiences and musicological knowledge of early Italian themes into symphonic compositions.

The Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Brown were sensational in the performance of both of Respighi’s works. They are incredibly difficult for the orchestra, and give the woodwind section, in particular, the opportunity to work very hard. The CSO infused The Fountains of Rome with a lushness that I have not heard in a live performance. It was absolutely sensual. Peter Cooper’s oboe solo was marvelous. The work is in four sections, and the final section is The Villa Medici Fountain at Sunset. I can’t recall ever hearing this final section done as sensitively as the CSO performed Friday night. It simply faded away into the darkness after the sunset and it was sensational.

Both of these symphonic poems are in four sections with no pause between. The Pines of Rome also makes use of the first electronic recording in a symphony, and that is a specific recording that Respighi made of the sounds of birds that appears in the third section, which is entitled The Pines of the Janiculum. The fourth movement is entitled The Pines of the Appian Way, and depicts a march through the city by the Roman legions, complete with an offstage brass chorus. While this is certainly a very stirring and rousing finish, I cannot stress enough that this performance was the best I have heard. I truly wish there was a recording made of the Friday night performance.

This orchestra in one year’s time has solved so many of its problems, as I said in the opening paragraph. The effect on the musicians has been noticeable and remarkable. This was absolutely a world-class performance, and it is clear that the Colorado Symphony is, once again, a world-class symphony orchestra. There are two more performances of this program. You simply must hear them. We are fortunate indeed that this collection of outstanding musicians is in our city.

Christmas with the Denver Philharmonic

There can no longer be any doubt that conductor Adam Flatt is an absolutely perfect fit with the Denver Philharmonic orchestra. Their Christmas program of December 17 was absolutely marvelous. As I have said before, a conductor can make a great deal of difference in an orchestra, and for a while, the DPO was searching for the right conductor. They have finally found one. I know I’ve said that before, this season, but the performances that they have done this year have been really exciting. There are new orchestra members, the members that are continuing are performing much better, and there is no doubt that their newfound enthusiasm has been totally infectious. 

They opened their Christmas program with Ottorino Respighi’s Trittico Botticelliano, a wonderful piece inspired by three paintings by Botticelli. Respighi combines the old with the new in this work, using as he does, the medieval chant “Veni Immanuel,” which appears in the second movement of this work, entitled “the Adoration of the Magi.” Many composers before the days of authentic and “scholarly” performances, gave us some awareness of ancient music: Stravinsky gave us examples from Gesualdo to Pergolesi, and Ravel, and even Richard Strauss, gave us their concept of Couperin. Respighi was impacted primarily by medieval Italian music and by the architecture of medieval Italian cathedrals early in his life, as he rode around the Italian peninsula on his bicycle, as a young man. Many of his compositions reflect the combination of the old and the new, but in many ways, this particular work is one of the best. 

The orchestra has demands placed upon it immediately in the opening measures, as the work begins with trills throughout. As in some of Respighi’s best works, this is a very glittering opening and the DPO did this wonderfully well. It was colorful and absolutely beguiling. Maestro Flatt deserves much credit for being able to communicate his excitement and love for music to the orchestra, and then being successful in showing them how to convey that to the audience. It truly seemed as though everyone in the orchestra was looking forward to this concert, and showing, with a great deal of self-satisfaction which is deserved, how they have improved this year. The second movement of this work displayed, once again, how outstanding the woodwind section is. The third movement was absolutely ethereal, and the violins, which I have sometimes picked on mercilessly, were in tune. 

The second work on the program was Ralph Vaughan Williams well-known work, Fantasia on Greensleeves. Vaughan Williams (and, yes, he has the un-hyphenated double last name of Vaughan Williams) like Respighi, also wrote fantasias on medieval and Renaissance themes, but obviously Vaughan Williams was English and not Italian. The tune “Greensleeves,” is from the 16th century, and is based on Italian style of composition called a “Romanesca,” which is a romantic ballad. For a time, many people thought that it had been composed by Henry VIII, but we now know that was not the case. Vaughan Williams also uses another 16th-century folk song called “Lovely Joan,” which delighted 16th-century audiences because of its humor and its involvement with, shall we say, intricate moral issues. 

This work opens with pizzicato in the strings, and though it was not quite together, the orchestra generated a wonderful rich sound. There is a somewhat wistful, descending cadence from solo flute accompanied by the harp, which imitates a lute accompaniment. It is in the middle section that two flutes play the duet based on “Lovely Joan,” before the return of the “Greensleeves” theme. Maestro Flatt was able to draw a truly mellifluous sound from the entire orchestra. 

Following the Vaughan Williams, guest soloist, Robert Gardner, baritone, sang three arias from Händel’s “Messiah.” The titles of the three arias are, “Why do the nations so furiously rage together?”, “Behold, I tell you a mystery,” and “The trumpet shall sound.” 

American baritone Robert Gardner has appeared with numerous opera houses and symphony orchestras in the U.S., Europe, and Asia including New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, Bavarian National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Palm Beach Opera, Edmonton Opera, the Munich Philharmonic, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, the San Diego, Santa Rosa, New Haven and Kansas City Symphonies, the Northeast Pennsylvania Philharmonic and the Daejeon Symphony in S. Korea. Originally from Denver, Colorado, he has been described as “a superb young artist” by WGBH Radio, the New York Times calls him “robust…impressive…brilliantly effective…the score presented with a proprietary authority,” an “electrifying performance” says NPR Sunday Morning Edition. The Hartford Courant hails “a talent of a high order,” “his lithe, burnished baritone a consistent pleasure” and the Kansas City Star raves “finally we heard someone sing with intelligence, passion and bravura… unusually gripping.”

Robert Gardner is the 2007 winner of the Lili Boulanger Memorial Award, chosen from five worldwide nominees (chiefly composers, conductors and instrumentalists) and by the foundation started in 1936 by famed teacher-pianist-conductor Nadia Boulanger, is considered this year’s “musician of exceptional talent and integrity.” A 2001 Pro Musicis International Award winner, he is also the winner of the 1999 William Matheus Sullivan Foundation Award, the 2000 Gerda Lissner Award, and the 2000 Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition. He trained at Yale Opera of the Yale University School of Music and participated in young artist programs with Santa Fe Opera, the Bavarian National Opera in Munich, and the Steans Institute for Young Artists at Ravinia in Chicago. He is a member of the Society of American Fight Directors and has choreographed safe, yet effective stage conflicts professionally, and is a professional animal trainer in his spare time. 

Maestro Flatt began this work with wonderful energy and drive. Gardner’s voice quality is absolutely remarkable and he is incredibly dramatic, which is exactly what the Händel requires. All three of these arias were very well sung by Gardner – his voice is so well-suited to this oratorio – that I began to wonder what it would be like to hear him sing the role of Amfortas in Wagner’s Parsifal. I think that would really be something. The only complaint that I might have about his performance of the Händel, was that occasionally his diction was not entirely clear. His rhythmic emphasis, it’s punctuation, were absolutely outstanding. 

There are several orchestra members to be remembered from the first half of theis concert: Manny Araujo, trumpet, Suzanne Moulton-Gertig, harp, Shaun Burley, clarinet, David Fisk, piano, and Kim Brody, oboe. And there were more. 

Following the intermission, the DPO performed a medley of popular Christmas carols. There was a sing-along, and Gardner returned to the stage and performed several solos of well-known Christmas song. He sang White Christmas in such a smooth, crooning manner, that even though his voice quality is very different from Bing Crosby’s, his performance brought back Crosby’s panache. I might add, that throughout the entire second half of this program Robert Gardner’s diction was excellent. For me, the highlight of the second half of the program was Gardner’s narration, with the DPO’s accompaniment, of everyone’s favorite Christmas poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. There have been others in the past that have narrated this: James Mason, Sir John Gielgud, and, I think, Sting. But for me, Gardner was the absolute best. It was full of emotion and humor. 

Maestro Flatt invited three youngsters from the audience to come down to the podium and take turns conducting Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.” It was great fun, and all three were grinning from ear to ear. 

I also point out that during the second half of the program, Maestro Flatt removed his conducting tails, and donned a white dinner jacket with a red vest, and a green handkerchief in the pocket. I, for one, think that he should have added a Santa hat, but as his conducting style is often quite vigorous, it may have ended up on the music stand. 

This was an excellent performance, full of good music, good playing, and an enthusiastic orchestra that truly seemed to be filled with a genuine Christmas spirit. With Adam Flatt at the helm, I see absolutely every reason to believe that the quality of this performance will be repeated. It was a job well done.

Depth, Excellence, Emotion: The Colorado Ballet

On Friday night, September 10th, I attended the opening performance of the Colorado Ballet’s 50th Anniversary Season. In the last couple of years, the Colorado Ballet has attracted a great deal of attention, particularly because they just keep getting better and better. I must tell you that the opening performance Friday night can be summarized with two words: excellence and emotion. I hasten to point out that those two words apply to every single dancer who was onstage in this performance, and to the onstage musicians led by the Colorado Ballet Associate Conductor, Catherine Sailer. It also contained a world première. But let us delve into one thing at a time. 

This opening performance of their 50th Season was dedicated to the cofounders of the Colorado ballet, Lillian Covillo and Friedann Parker. As Artistic Director, Gil Boggs, pointed out this splendid ballet company would not be in existence had it not been for the vision of these two individuals. This 50th season also marks the appointment of the new Executive Director of the Colorado Ballet,  Ms. Marie Belew Wheatley. Wheatley is being hired after a 10-month restructuring effort at the Colorado Ballet, led by the Board of Trustees. She was selected primarily because of her proven successes in fund raising and turnaround efforts and her extensive management experience, all skills the Board of Trustees sought throughout their search. 

Along with an established executive record, Wheatley also has an affinity for the arts, having served on the boards of the Junior Symphony Guild, Opera Colorado Guild and the Denver Art Museum’s Alliance of Contemporary Art. 

“Her executive style along with her deep appreciation for the arts will serve Colorado Ballet in many ways,” said Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs. “She has an unflappable senior executive presence, a calm and wise approach to balancing challenges and the ability to strongly collaborate. I look forward to working with her.” 

I can guess, with a great deal of accuracy, that Ms. Wheatley is looking forward to working with Gil Boggs. In the last few years since he has been the Artistic Director, he has put together a company that is amazing in the consistency of its excellence. And judging by the performances they have given, including this particular opening performance, the entire company is consistent in the excitement caused by their ability to work together to produce such fine artistic programs. 

Friday’s program consisted of three separate ballets. The first, entitled “Feast of the Gods,” was performed in 2009, and returned to the stage in this Anniversary Triple Bill. Choreographed by Edwaard Liang, “Feast of the Gods” was inspired by the history of a band of traveling gypsies. The ballet is set to Italian composer Ottorino Respighi’s Ancient Aires and Dances, and features intricate choreography and a fast-paced pas de deux. Respighi (1879-1936) was not only a composer, he was also a musicologist and linguist. Ancient Airs And Dances was a result of his enthusiasm (there is that word again) over 16th – 18th century Italian music, perhaps fathered by a long bicycle trip that he took around the Italian peninsula as a young man. As a matter of fact, many of his compositions could be classified as neo-Baroque or, in some cases neo-Renaissance. 

I do not think I have ever seen a ballet performance where the choreography was so remarkably fast-paced. It was not just the pas de deux. All of the dancers on stage had difficult and very rapid changes of position which were constant throughout the performance. And I would like to point out something that is very unusual in other ballet companies that I have seen. Chandra Kuykendall was a soloist Friday, and is listed as a principal dancer in the program (and yes, there are new photographs of the entire company in the program). She and Travis Morrison were the soloists in this opening ballet. Travis Morrison is listed in the program as a member of the corps de ballet. Now, readers, that says something about this company. That the members of the Corps can dance with the principles on an equal footing (please excuse the pun) is something that you don’t see in other companies. That speaks volumes to the work that the dancers have done, and it also speaks volumes to the ability of Gil Boggs in assembling a ballet company where virtually everybody in the company has the capacity to give an incredibly artistic performance. And it also speaks volumes in the trust that each member of the company has in each other. When I say trust, I am talking about trust in each other’s artistic integrity. Sayaka Karasugi and Luis Valdes; Dana Benton and Christopher Ellis; Asuka Sasaki and Adam Still were the other performers Friday night. It is frustrating that in the last few years, I have not been able to pick a favorite performer from this company. I have seen ballets in New York, and Chicago, St. Louis, and at the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, where I did my undergraduate work. In these locations, and in these companies, there were always dancers who were clearly superior to the others: favorites were easy. This is simply not the case in the Colorado Ballet where everyone is so equal. I can promise you that this is the result of some incredibly hard work and love of the art. It is my understanding that the choreographer, Edwaard Liang, was in attendance Friday night. I regret that I was not able to meet him. In 2002, Liang was invited by Jiri Kylian to join the acclaimed Nederlands Dans Theater. While dancing with Nederlands Dans Theater, Liang discovered his passion for choreography and since then, has gone on to establish himself as a freelance choreographer. Over the last eight years, Liang has created works for companies around the world and his choreography is noted to be distinct and highly imaginative with intricate techniques and sequences. 

The second ballet Friday night was entitled “… smile with my heart.” This was choreographed by Lar Lubovitch. Known throughout the world for his rhapsodic style and his technical structure and choreography, Lubovitch’s work is also recognized for its modern-dance undertones. Lubovitch was educated at The Julliard School by Antony Tudor and many other top dance professionals of the time, and became one of the most popular, versatile, and widely viewed choreographers in the United States. 

The music for this second ballet of the evening was based on a “Fantasie on Themes by Richard Rodgers.” This Fantasie was done by Marvin Laird. I hasten to point out that it was originally done for Sandra Brown when she was a soloist with the American ballet Theatre. Of course, Sandra Brown is one of the two excellent Ballet Mistresses with the Colorado Ballet. There were four movements to this second ballet: 1) “Do I hear a waltz?” and “It might as well be Spring,” 2) “The Sweetest Sounds,” 3) ” I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” and “Where Or When,” and, 4) “My Funny Valentine.” 

If anyone doubts how the music of Richard Rodgers could be used for a ballet, then I stress that those doubts would have been assuaged by simply seeing this performance. It was absolutely wonderful. The dancers were Maria Mosina, Sayaka Karasugi, Sharon Wehner, Jesse Marks, Dmitry Trubchanov, and Igor Vassine. Surely, all of you ballet goers must remember that it was Maria Mosina who brought tears to everyone’s eyes last year in the devastatingly emotional “Echoing of Trumpets.” But of course, you simply have to understand, that everyone in this company is capable of doing just that. All four parts of this second ballet were outstanding. Of the four parts, “The Sweetest Sounds,” truly caught my attention because it was, by comparison, so Art Deco in its choreography. The third movement of this second ballet, was incredibly sad in contrast to the fourth movement, which was an absolute triumph. 

This ballet was accompanied by a live on stage chamber group led by Catherine Sailer, the Associate Conductor of the Colorado Ballet. Ms. Sailer, who conducted from the piano bench, led the chamber ensemble of cello, Jeffrey Watson, Cedra Kuehn, and Evan Orman; flute, Paul Nagem; and oboe, Kathryn Dupuy Cooper. It has long been known that Sailer is an accomplished conductor, but it may come as a surprise to some that she is also such a fine pianist. She simply must do some solo piano work. It would be wonderful to hear. 

The third, and final, ballet of the evening was entitled “The Faraway.” Choreographed by Matthew Neenan, it was inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s life and work, wherein she described the land of northern New Mexico as the “far away.” Neenan is currently the choreographer-in-residence at the Pennsylvania Ballet, and this new work is a much anticipated world premiere, created specifically to end the Anniversary Triple Bill. Neenan’s choreography is recognized as a fresh, imaginative, and stylish twist to classical ballet, as well as technically challenging and full of life. The music for this ballet was taken from the compositions of Dmitri Shostakovich. Use was made of his first piano Concerto and his first jazz suite. There were other compositions as well, but I am chagrined to admit that I could not name them. 

The dancers in this final ballet came from the entire company, and included Dmitry Trubchanov, Sharon Wehner, Jesse Marks , Dana Benton , Kevin Gael Thomas, Sean Omandam, Adam Still, Cara Cooper, Shelby Dyer, Christopher Ellis, Luis Valdes, Rylan Schwab, Casey Dalton, Asuka Sasaki, and Caitlin Valentine-Ellis. Every one of these individuals is a consummate artist and performer. Please do not think that the order in which they are named indicates their level of skill. There are so many companies in the United States that would appreciate having them in their roster. 

The three ballets performed this Friday night were performed with excellence and with great confidence by the entire company. The trust that every single dancer had in each other was marked. There were no errors that I could catch. There was nothing but fluidity and consummate artistry on behalf of everyone involved. The performance was exciting, breathtaking, and demonstrative of the commitment on the part of the dancers and the leadership of this ballet company. Their artistry is so great that calling them mere dancers seems inane. 

I encourage and challenge anyone who has doubts that ballet can be a totally aesthetic reward to come to a performance of the Colorado Ballet.