"A Choreographer's Showcase" was performed at La Nouba Theatre in Downtown Disney. (Photo by Dave Raith).

LAKE BUENA VISTA — It started with a haze, moved on to a prayer, and then to a doll.
Two of Central Florida’s artistic giants, Cirque du Soleil and the Orlando Ballet, collaborated for the second year on Monday, on a unique choreographic project featuring young dancing and artistic talent from both companies.
“As artists, we are here to inspire,” said Robert Hill, the artistic director of the Orlando Ballet, who collaborated on this project with Daniel Ross, the artistic director of La Nouba.
“Partnering with Daniel and La Nouba has allowed us to use that inspiration to touch our community,” Hill said. “We hope to deliver an experience unlike anything the audience has seen before — and share our inspiration.”
As part of that, Orlando Ballet and La Nouba opened the doors of the La Nouba theatre in Downtown Disney to audiences on Monday, as the two companies presented “A Choreographer’s Showcase,” subtitled “A Project Designed to Stimulate and Encourage Artistic Growth.”.
Before a packed audience, the opening dance act was “Haze,” featuring compelling music and extraordinary dance, well choreographed. The dancers did an awesome job of drawing the audience’s attention, and it was a captivating opening act.
It only got better. Act 2, called “Prayer,” was inspired by a Japanese fairy tale. It opened with a shot of the moon on a darkened backdrop, and two hands coming together to form the shadow of a rabbit, which is said to live on the moon.
During this dance piece, two characters — “Moon girl” and “Earth man” — achieved their love, being prevented and conducted by destiny.
“A Choreographer’s Showcase” was drawn from Cirque du Soleil’s ongoing commitment to the Central Florida artistic community, and the theater’s desire to support artists and artistic institutions. The project began with the Nevada Ballet Theatre five years ago, before moving to Central Florida.
Because both companies showcase young emerging talent, these productions are considered the ideal platform to illustrate the vast creative and technical skills these dancers have, while celebrating the missions of both organizations.
“We have a commitment to keep the spirit of the art of dance and movement alive,” Ross said. “By creating this platform for these dancers, we are able to stay true to that commitment.”
This forum designed to allow dancers free expression drew a strong response from the audience. In fact, Act 3, called “Doll Tricks,” was definitely a fan favorite, starting with a bass pumping remix of Pytor Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” set to the skills of the performers.
The lights dimmed, and the dancers came out … and then the lights faded. LED lights in the dancers’ bodysuits suddenly flashed on, and the dancers began to move rapidly, providing a rewarding, exciting mix of dance and light show — which was truly awe-inspiring to watch.
Also in the mix was “Tango Roxanne,” a romantic dance between two lovers fighting over the girl they both love … and in the end, it’s the dance itself that wins out.

"Prayer," inspired by a Japanese fairy tale, opens with two hands coming together to form the shadow of a rabbit. (Photo by Dave Raith).

Last, although certainly not least, was the memorable “Swan Puddle: The Extraordinary Untold Story,” a dance parody that provided a mix of dance and comedy, and was a real treat to watch.
“A Choreographer’s Showcase” provided nine acts altogether, with an eclectic and memorable mix of dance, lighting, music, art and comedy.
It was all done for a good cause. Proceeds from the showcase presentation benefited the Orlando Ballet and its S.T.E.P.S (Scholarship Training for the Enrichment of Primary Students) program, which aims to reach at-risk children through ballet and give them an opportunity to learn about performance art.
Targeted to children who might not normally have the chance to learn about dance and creative expression — including ballet — this program is designed as a positive after-school activity.
The program is modeled after a similar award-winning program developed by New York’s Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Contact Dave Raith at Dave.freelinemedia@Gmail.com.

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