Columbia City Ballet has created a growing presence in the Charleston arts community, presenting a variety of works throughout the year including director William Starrett's rendition of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," which was the company's 2014 Piccolo Spoleto Festival entry.
The dancers of Columbia City Ballet are strong and technically gifted, relishing the classical technique that Charleston has been missing since the demise of its resident ballet company.
The curtain rises on swirling skirts and glittering skin in an magical world, where fairies reign supreme and plenty of mischief and drama, unseen by the human eye, takes place. As Shakespeare's traditional story unfolds and chaos ensues, several key players emerge. Principal dancers Claire Kallimanis (Titania), Journy Wilkes-Davis (Oberon) and Philip Ingrassia (Puck) are expertly cast in their respective roles, embodying their characters with a hefty dose of regality, impishness and finesse.
Kallimanis exhibits lush epaulment and beautiful, long lines suggesting an ethereal energy befitting her role as fairy Queen. Ever the charmer, Ingrassia as Puck, steals each scene he's in, enchanting the audience with his athleticism, precise execution of technical jumps, pirouettes and tours en l'air, as well as crystal clean footwork in minor transitions and petite allegro.
Act Two contained more dancing for Wilkes-Davis, whose lean, graceful limbs and elegant stature conveyed a stoic King regaining control of his kingdom. Overall, there could have been much more choreography for Oberon, as it seemed we were only seeing a hint of Wilkes-Davis' capabilities.
Although they were supporting characters, the personalities of the mortals and tradesmen struggled to develop. The action moves quickly, perhaps to keep the audience engaged, but leaves room for a bit more emotional depth, particularly in the comedic arena.
While the Charleston Music Hall tends to be a bit small for the average classical ballet, with the audience seated too close to fully grasp the spectacle of classical lines, intricate footwork and sparkling costumes; the space was beautifully used and lent itself to the suspension of disbelief so important for a night at the ballet.
Stephanie Burg is a dancer and holistic health consultant.