Tutu By Two; the Ballet of Noah's Ark

The following is a review of HGCBT's and Artistic Director Fran Ichijo's original ballet interpretation of Noah's Ark:

Monocacy Monocle, May 29, 2015
Tutu by Two

By Dominique Agnew

The Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre (HGCBT) performed an original ballet of “Noah’s Ark” on Saturday, May 16 at the Poolesville High School Auditorium.

“When the Lord saw how great the wickedness of human beings was on Earth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but evil, the Lord regretted making human beings on the Earth, an his heart was grieved.” The setting and music were stark and primal as the dancers, mere shadows of the intended beauty of humanity, moved across the stage. More like creatures of darkness, their movements were rigid and visceral.

“But Noah found favor with the Lord.” Fortunately, Noah, danced by Josh Snyder, heard God’s call and listened to his words of wisdom. Noah joined the dance, hammering in a race against nature, in time with the evil of the world around him, but of another world as he prepared his ark. As raindrops began to fall, luminous dancers flitted and floated between clouds and lightning.

“Of the clean animals and the unclean, of the birds, and of everything that crawls on the ground, two by two, male and female came to Noah into the ark, just as God had commanded him.” From the adorable bumblebees to zebras and wolves and squirrels to panda bears, butterflies, parrots, and blue jays, and elephants and really small mice, Noah collected them all, dancing and frolicking into the ark. Finally, Noah, his wife, his sons and daughters, the Spirit of Love, angels, and the Raven and the Dove all joined in a pas de huit (Noah, his wife, and three sons and their wives) as they embarked. Life on the ark was a delight as the animals and humans danced in joyful coexistence. Act I closed with the Dove returning with an olive branch, the Raven not returning after being released.

Act II opened with the animals exiting the ark onto dry land and finding their own way, galloping and gallivanting across the stage. Much of the music for Act I was from modern composers such as Hans Zimmer and his music from film scores such as Batman, Rainman, DaVinci Code and others, and compositions of Sabilius and James Horner; however, Act II was the very classical La Bayadere composed by Ludwig Minkus and choreographed famously by Marius Petipa in the late nineteenth century. Act II excerpted “The Kingdom of the Shades,” typically staged in black and white, but Ichijo had always envisioned iti n color, the colors of the rainbow, naturally. In this setting, the rainbow symbolized the pact God made with man to never destroy the world with flood waters again. The stage became a rainbow of dancers, gliding gracefully in a pastel Roy G. Biv that deliciously stunned the senses. Any future viewing of “The Kingdom of the Shades” in black and white will certainly pale in comparison. 

Artistic director of HGCBT, Fran Ichijo, consulted different religious backgrounds and settled on their commonalities about Noah’s Ark in her rendition. She also added myth and mystique by including the legend of how the unicorns perished as well as a dance with Noah and the Rainbows Queen once they are safely back on land.

Don’t think for a second that this Bayadere looked in any way amateurish. The quality and technique rivaled that of any professional company. Many of HGCBT’s troupe of dancers are in high school now, and they show the years of dedication with precision and perfection. Three graduating seniors have set their slippers on further dancing: Suzanne Creedon at the University of Maryland, College Park, full dance scholarship; Brooke O’Connell at Trinity College; and Veronica Contreras at the Kirov Academy, professional program.