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'Partners and Pairs' ballet show is a crowd pleaser

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Charleston Ballet presented "Partners and Pairs" and a four-part mixed bill of dance at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater on Friday.

The first portion of the show was "Majisimo," a Latin-inspired vignette broken into six numbers. Fast-paced, it was a great crowd-pleaser. With gravity-defying lifts and spins, the audience broke into spontaneous applause multiple times. The costumes were quite lovely, reminiscent of matadors and wealthy señoritas.

Although the show was actually four separate dances, the performance was divided into three parts with two intermissions. The middle portion of the show was comprised of two pas de deux; "Flames of Paris" and "Diana and Actaeon."

The serious title, "Flames of Paris," belied the lighthearted, sprightly nature of the dance. Vivian Wang and Christopher Miro gave a precise and crisp performance, blithely moving through this upbeat and entertaining piece.

The standout of the two was, by far, "Diana and Actaeon." Oleksandr Vykhrest, on loan from the Columbia Classical Ballet, quite literally flew through the air, defying the laws of gravity at every turn. Paired with Tamako Miyazaki, also of the Columbia Classical Ballet, the two were a study in effortless grace.

The final portion of the program was a tribute to the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va. Using fiddle music and narrative from the senator's own record, which was re-released after he died in 2010, the ballet troupe combined with local square dancers for seven somewhat surreal but wildly entertaining numbers. Classical ballet moves combined with square dance and clogging to make a lively and exciting finale.

It was an abrupt shift from the first three quarters of the program, but it seemed, by far, to be the most well-received portion of the show. Audience members whistled, stomped and clapped along, applauding with abandon. It was more like a trip to the Vandalia Gathering than a trip to the ballet.

Generally, the entire program was enjoyable and entertaining. The guest performers blended well with the local talent for an exciting evening of dance and music.

"Partners and Pairs" plays again Saturday night at 7:30.


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