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‘Dance’ is tender, a real tearjerker

Ballet examines all the phases of a dad and daughter’s life together

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"THE DANCE," ODYSSEY DANCE, RICHARD PAUL EVANS, KURT BESTOR, Capitol Theatre, two performances today: 2 and 8 p.m. (355-2787).

Nothing matches a father's love — especially a father's love for his daughter.

At least that's what New York Times best-selling author Richard Paul Evans believes. He wrote a book about it. It's called "The Dance."

The book inspired Odyssey Dance Theatre's artistic director Derryl Yeager to ask composer Kurt Bestor to write a score so he could choreograph a dance for "The Dance."

That was five years ago. And the three amigos — Evans, Bestor and Yeager — have reunited for this special Father's Day production.

Thursday's opening-night performance went without a hitch. The music, the narration and the dancing worked well — although at times some members of the audience had to strain a bit to hear Evans' live reading. During the final bars of music, his soft-spoken voice was covered a bit by Bestor's band.

Other than that, it was a solid, heart tugging performance.

Bestor's musical soundscapes mix joy and sadness as both dad and daughter experience the joys and realities of growing up, living life and, ultimately, leaving mortality.

Dancing the young daughter throughout the performance run is Tiare Keeno. This spry girl is dancing beyond her years. Her presentation, lines and facial expressions reflect a much more experienced dancer (she is a pre-teen).

Tiare carries herself with confidence, maturity and poise as she becomes the playful child and the loving daughter. And dancing her father is Odyssey Dance Theatre's Thayne Jasperson, who sings the lilting "Dance for Me" at the end of the performance.

The early teen daughter is danced by Odyssey's own Lisa Benson. She takes on the part of the daughter's first ballet performance and is convincing as a 14-year-old.

Veronica Yeager, also an Odyssey member, becomes the late-teen/prom-night daughter as she and Eldon Johnson interact with an aging father, danced poignantly and humorously by former Ballet West principal Gilles Maidon.

By the time the daughter reaches adulthood and becomes a bride, she is danced by Ballet West current dancer Annie Marie Breneman.

Director Yeager's choreography focuses on the dancers' strengths, and with the music and narration, the work becomes a Father's Day tearjerker, which most families will embrace with vigor.

Opening the evening is Janalyn Memmott's thought-provoking journey through life "Dances in the Garden of Eve." The contemporary ballet examines innocence, sin, remorse, repentance and redemption in six dramatic and beautifully crafted sequences.

Choosing this work as a prelude to "The Dance" is an inspired move for Yeager. The two works complement each other for a Zen-like balance.