By Steve Sucato
Verb Ballets latest tribute program to former Ohio Ballet co-founder Heinz Poll entitled Verb Ballets Continues the Legacy of Heinz Poll, will be a homecoming of sorts for Akron-native Andrew Carroll. The former principal dancer with Poll’s Ohio Ballet in the 1980’s and later with Pennsylvania Ballet, returns to the region to restage his 2014 pas de deux “3:00am.” The ballet is one of four on the Friday, February 17 program at Akron, Ohio’s historic Akron Civic Theatre and kicks off Verbs’ 30th anniversary celebration.
Carroll, who is now an associate professor of dance at the University of South Florida, says he set “3:00am” on former student Antonio Morillo to use when auditioning for Verb. Artistic director Margaret Carlson liked both so much she hired Morillo and added Carroll’s 4 1/2-minute pas de deux set to Abel Korzeniowski’s “Satin Birds” from the 2011 film W.E., to the company’s repertory.
Carroll says with “3:00am” he wanted to create a ballet where the two people in it were happy and in love, basking in “that window of time when no one else exists in the world, 3 a.m. ─ it’s just you and the one you love,” says Carroll.
Joining Carroll’s ballet on the program will be Poll favorite, 1975’s “Schubert Waltzes.” Set to more than a dozen brief Franz Schubert piano pieces performed live by former Ohio Ballet music director David Fisher, the 25-minute ballet for three male/female couples is Poll’s interpretation of Schubert’s music,” says Verb Ballets associate director Richard Dickinson. The ballet looks at the three couples’ individual personalities. Said Chicago Tribune entertainment writer Sid Smith in a 1987 review of the ballet, “For all its stern simplicity, ‘Waltzes’ is broadly emotional, from soaring romance to silliness, culminating in a breathtaking and inspirational stroll toward an offstage sunset…”
The lone new work on the program “Broken Bridges,” comes from Verb company member Michael Hinton. Set to Dmitri Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony in C minor Op. 110A, it is the third work Hinton (who is on a leave of absence) has created for Verb.
Inspired by Poll’s ballet “Elegiac Song” (1968) also set to music by Shostakovich, the 22-minute ballet for 8 dancers says Hinton, is a tribute to his grandmother (Bridgett Escovedo) who passed away recently.
“I wanted to honor her memory while still staying true to the person she was,” says Hinton.
According to Hinton, his grandmother suffered from mental illness which left relationships in the family strained, especially with his mother Shawna Hinton who became her caregiver after she developed Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
“Bridgette grew up in a time where these [mental] illnesses weren’t considered valid,” says Hinton. “Eventually these suppressed illnesses came out in fits of emotions and general psychotic behavior.”
“Broken Bridges” explores this family dynamic with a nod to the turbulent emotions found in Poll’s “Elegiac Song.”
Rounding out the program will be a reprise of Poll’s 1996 masterwork “Bolero.” Set to Maurice Ravel’s iconic score of the same name, the ballet combines the best of Poll’s integration of ballet and modern dance technique into a seemingly timeless display of choreographic beauty that sweeps one up in its relentless drive and carries you along to an exhilaratingly satisfying end.
Verb Ballets Continues the Legacy of Heinz Poll will be performed at 8 p.m., Friday, February 17, Akron Civic Theatre, 182 South Main Street Akron, Ohio. Single tickets are $32/Preferred, $27/Center, $22/Side or $12/ Student. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Akron Civic Box Office at 330-253-2488 or online at akroncivic.com. For more information visit verbballets.org.
Steve Sucato is a former dancer turned arts writer/critic. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Dance Critics Association and Associate Editor of ExploreDance.com.