(Photo: Rick Ellis)
Springtime in Paris … ooh, la, la!Ahh, the vicissitudes of life. Sometimes they can really get one down.
But then, just like that, along comes hope for the future that erases the doom and gloom.
That hope arrived in the form of “Springtime in Paris,” a recital by dancers from Mammoth and Bishop performed Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19. It was as light as the spring sun, bright as flowers, right as rain.
As several people said at the Mammoth performance, while waiting in a line that went out the door to a parking lot that has never been so jam-packed with cars, “This is the place to be on a Saturday afternoon.”
Once the myriad of kids, parents and other lovers of dance were seated in the Edison Theatre, the house and stage lights went down. Whispers could be heard as a gaggle of little girls in tutus, aged three to six, found their places for the opening number, “Be our Guest.” The lights came up to reveal pliés, jetés, twirls and lots of ballet moves I no longer have on the tip of my tongue.
The theme of springtime in Paris bloomed in classical, jazz, lyric and hip hop dance forms—all enchanting and joyous to watch. One got the impression that despite fluttering tummies, chaotic dressing rooms and first-time jitters, the dancers had as much fun, if not more, than the audience.
Solo dances sprinkled through the program included Madeleine LeFrancois the stage next, as a nimble harbinger of spring, the Monarch butterfly, and Torrey Patrie with a pair of entertaining tap numbers, “I’m Gone” and “Out on the Town.”
“Les Touristes” popped onto the stage, choreographed and danced by Tamie Beach, with Lily McGrale and Cassidy Schmidt, two very talented dancers. This snappy modern dance was an absolute delight to watch, their costumes simple black unitards and springtime yellow blouses tied above the waist, their movements fluid and agile.
Forty years of a passion for dance unfolded like an elegant spring day in Jo Bacon’s beautiful classical ballet, “Springtime Waltz.”
There were many highlights on this Saturday, and Khylie Small’s may have taken the cake for this reviewer. She moved with the most delicious grace through “Tea for Two.” With table, book, teapot and cup and a romantic flower behind her ear, she told a believable, charming story of a young woman having tea with an admirer. What more ideal springtime story could there be.
Tamie Beach choreographed a gaggle of six dancers in a hip hop number called “Diverse City.” These same dancers returned later in the show with “Today’s a Good Day.” Especially impressive were their moves when they almost stood on one arm and pivoted body and legs around that fulcrum.
Who doesn’t love the CanCan? Offenbach’s beloved Gaîeté parisienne did not disappoint with four girls costumed in red and black ruffled skirts, dancing that spirited piece. The audience applauded, whistled and hooted, something they did after every dance.
Seven more dances brought springtime to a brilliant flowering of talent and spirit. Two highlights from this batch included “Giboulée,” another piece by the French composer Jacques Offenbach. Four dancers encountered spring rain, and danced with colorful umbrellas; and “Carmin Cuties,” a dozen petite ballerinas in bright pink tutus that brought hand to chest in a lovely sigh from more than one audience member.
When the house lights went up, a totally delightful hour of dance had passed. Bravi to Sabrina Nioche, owner/creative director of Le Centre Dance Studio in Mammoth, and to Tamie Beach, owner/creative director of Studio B in Bishop. They and their instructors teach dance to children from the age of three and four, who explore moving their bodies and discover perhaps a long-term passion for dance.
“Dance helps develop musicality, spacial awareness, body awareness and fitness, physical presence, teamwork and collaboration, focus and discipline, creativity and expression as well as etiquette,” Nioche said. And when dancers and instructors work together to create dances, “A show is the best part of what we do, the most creative,” Nioche said. “Dancers come to life—it IS performance art.”
The numbers were choreographed by Sabrina Nioche, Tamie Beach, Tatiana Susoeff, Jaime Marso and Jo Bacon. The music was perfect, and combined with voice over narrations in French, French songs, we were treated to a Parisian springtime. Magnifique.