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Utah Ballet rises to occasion

UTAH BALLET, Alice Sheets Marriott Center for Dance, University of Utah, additional performance today, 2 and 7:30 p.m. (581-7100).

The haunting images of a lady in white being lifted and accompanied by four dark-dressed men in Attila Ficzere's "Lone Again" were only part of Utah Ballet's fall concert Thursday. But the visuals were stark and striking.

This is the world premiere of "Lone Again," which was inspired by a lonely drive through the Southwest and the music of American Indian jazz group Burning Sky.

Cutting-edge choreography that combines classically inspired ballet with modern movements pushes this technically challenging work through the set. The dancers rise to the occasion and find themselves in sometimes jagged and rigid poses and commanding steps.

Just before "Lone Again," Utah Ballet resurrects Ficzere's "Vivaldi," which was first danced a few years ago, and brings the traditional, classical ballet to the stage. However, the energetic work contained elements of non-traditional steps. Overall, this work is easy to watch but difficult for the dancers to dance. Technical steps and quick timing are mandatory. But when it's done right, the focal points are directly in front of audience member's eyes.

Opening the night also marked the world premiere of Ballet West's ballet master Bruce Caldwell's "Suite Jazz, 1930." This work, danced to various Shostakovich scores, is a semiconceptual piece about a party held in the middle of the Prohibition era.

Nice leg work, innovative patterns and imaginative ideas are the strength of this work, but it isn't as strong as the other selections on the program. The dancers Thursday seemed a little uncomfortable about getting into character, and while the choreography is pleasant, it falls short on emotion.

Closing out the evening was Jennie Creer-King's new piece, "Bach Street Prelude Contemporary Experiments." Danced to violinist Vanessa-Mae's modern interpretations of Bach, this one is a high-energy work that leaves little room for error.

While a slip here and there can be detrimental, for the most part, Utah Ballet dancers can hold their ground. However, the physical demands of this work do a number on the company, and by the end, they have almost nothing left to give.

Artistic director, Ficzere, should be proud of his dancers. All they need is a little more time to mature and they will be unstoppable.