Seeing is believing

Elise Miller, Alyssa Springer, Aubrey Clemens, and Mara Livezey
(From left) Student Dancers Elise Miller, Alyssa Springer, Aubrey Clemens, and Mara Livezey in "Paquita." Photos by Ralph Stewart

By Anna Marie D'Addarie - August 30, 2007

With leaps impossibly high and steps perfectly executed, Stiefel and Stars wowed the audience at the Performing Arts Center last Thursday evening in a benefit performance for the Martha's Vineyard Museum.

"Unbelievable," was a word I heard over and over again as the audience filed slowly out of the theater. But the audience should stop and consider what they had just witnessed. Yes, we all sat and watched in awe as Ethan Stiefel flew into the air as if by magic and the corps de ballet dancing as if they were one body.

Ethan Stiefel and Melissa Thomas
Ethan Stiefel and Melissa Thomas dance the opening number, "Konservatoriet," last Thursday at the high school's Performing Arts Center.

It was not magic or miraculous and attaching such words to the performance in some ways diminishes the dancer. These people are artists, athletes, and performers who have spent years perfecting their craft. No miracle, just lots of talent and hard work. Such as the hard work these dancers put in at the three and one-half week intensive training program in Edgartown this summer, the program run by Mr. Stiefel. Last Thursday's show was the culmination of the program.

Bob Fosse
Jazz hands reach in "All That Jazz," part of the Bob Fosse Suite.

The first piece was "Konservatoriet," with choreography by August Bournonville. The setting was a school of ballet where the ballet master (Mr. Stiefel) conducts a class. The dancing was superb. The dancers included the Dreamcatchers, young dancers between the age of 12 and 15 years, selected to train along with Mr. Stiefel's older students. These younger dancers come from schools all over the country and are certainly the stars of tomorrow.

"Rebound" by choreographer Benjamin Millepied was a modern piece danced by the older students.

The Bob Fosse Suite was fun and would have made the choreographer proud. Fosse developed a new language for dance, which should be part of every dancer's repertoire. Marcelo Gomes, principal with the American Ballet Theatre, shined in the "Percussion IV" movement of the Fosse suite. Mr. Gomes would check with the audience occasionally as if to say, "Did you catch that move?" I think he enjoyed watching our reactions to his amazing moves as much as we enjoyed watching him.

Marian Butler, Ethan Stiefel, and Melissa Thomas
(From left) Marian Butler, Ethan Stiefel, and Melissa Thomas.

"Paquita" was the last piece in the show and I think the strongest one. Gillian Murphy and Sascha Radetsky's solos were breathtaking. Ms. Murphy couldn't have asked more of herself or given more to the audience.

I told a friend of mine last year to be sure to catch Stiefel and Stars this summer. She did, and her only complaint was that her hands were sore from clapping so hard.