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‘Stars and Stripes: Tour-de-Force’ at The Washington Ballet at Sydney Harman Hall by Carolyn Kelemen

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The Saturday matinee performance of Stars and Stripes: Tour-de-Force was, indeed, a tour de force for The Washington Ballet, the dancers, choreographers, and anyone else who had a part in this lively showcase that closes tonight at the Sidney Harman Hall.

Jonathan Jordan and Maki Onuki of The Washington Ballet in George Balanchine’s 'Stars and Stripes.' Photo by Brianne Bland, courtesy of The Washington Ballet.

Jonathan Jordan and Maki Onuki of The Washington Ballet in George Balanchine’s ‘Stars and Stripes.’ Photo by Brianne Bland, courtesy of The Washington Ballet.

Always the consummate showman, Artistic Director Septime Webre invited under-11-year-old spectators for an impromptu “dance,” choreographed-on-the-spot with a theme of early morning activities. More than 100 children (perhaps three boys in the crowd) delighted us as they bounced about to gangnam style music.

This romp took place just minutes after The Washington Ballet Studio Company performed an excerpt from Swan Lake. The younger dancers framed TWB company soloists, Aurora Dickie and Hyu-Woong Kim, who performed the delicate Pas de Deux that closes the second act of the ballet.

It’s a rare treat to see a program of short pieces, a pas de deux or two, followed by a trio, plus excerpts from more modern works. Usually this fare is saved for the galas and benefit concerts held in the larger concert halls. While I missed the eerie setting of Swan Lake (where the cygnets gather around the couple), this rendition offers a chance to see the dancers close up and admire their technical skills. Hyon-Woong Kim, of Seoul Korea, is in his first season with The Washington Ballet, but he’s already mastered the princely partnering of the swan queen.

Dressed in orange garb (designed by the choreographer Nacho Duato), Morgan Rose and Jonathan Jordan danced a divine duet in Cor Perdut, set to sexy Latin music. Hungarian-born Tamas Kriza dazzles in Le Corsaire, Act 1 Pas d’Esclave. When he wasn’t whipping off double tours last Saturday afternoon, he proudly showed off ballerina Nicole Haskins, a newbie in the company and one to watch for future lead roles. Nonetheless, it was the trio from that same Corsaire ballet that brought folks to their feet at the end of the first act. Brooklyn Mack, Emily Ellis, and Andile Ndlovu couldn’t be topped for their acrobatic feats and ballet tricks.

There’s a cast change each show, and you might not catch all of the company’s stars – missed Sona Kahratian and Luis R. Torres in the matinee. Not to worry, though, there’s a full roster of talented performers who know how to strut their stuff and delight both young and old.

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Running Time: Two hours, with one 15-minute intermission.

Tour-De-Force: Stars & Stripes today, Sunday, February 24, 2013  at 1 and 6 PM at The Washington Ballet at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall – 610 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.

If you miss this program, note Septime Webre’s upcoming full-length Cinderella at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater –  2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. on March 20-24, 2013. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 467-4600, or (800) 444-1324,or purchase them online.

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