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Dance review: 'Volver' by Latin Ballet of Virginia

Dance review: 'Volver' by Latin Ballet of Virginia

ALI THIBODEAU, Special correspondent
Oct 28, 2012

The Latin Ballet of Virginia presents a celebratory night of Chicano tradition and heritage in the world premiere of "Volver" at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen.

Artistic director Ana Ines King and choreographer Catherine Marie Davalos have created a dynamic piece that establishes the importance of family, identifies the culture's hardship as a whole, and embraces Mexican heritage with pride and joy.

Davalos' hybrid of traditional dance styles from North Mexico and contemporary dance keeps the audience captivated in a world of heightened emotion and rich characterization.

Vibrant colors flood the stage as pedestrians enter with tote bags filled with assorted clothing representing the fortune American life bestows. Each of the six adults climbs into their clothing as if they were on a Saturday afternoon shopping spree, all obtaining a different purpose and desire.

Jenna McClintock is initially featured playfully kicking around her bright yellow skirt with controlled abandon and accessibility. Her technical ability is an effortlessly flawless standout among the variously uneven levels of talent and experience.

The title piece, "Volver," featuring Melvin Sanchez, Monte Alfonso Jones and Kevin LaMarr Jones, is one of loss and longing. "Volver, Volver" expresses despair through a fervid mariachi-style medium. These three men in cowboy hats throw themselves up against a barricade and retract while rolling, stumbling and struggling to pick themselves back up. Their focus away from the audience effectively inflicts loneliness and heartache until they reverse focus and plop down in unison on the final button.

King moves the audience with her passionate portrayal of a longing wanderer while executing rigidly disjointed choreography in "Angelitos Negros." Countering King is Adelle Barrow, luminously luring children (Latin Ballet's Junior Company) through a processional with ethereal fluidity.

Linda Baumgardner's lighting design artfully creates paths of light that glow on and off of the dancers, transporting the audience to a dramatic cathedral-like setting.

En route to each destination, the audience may experience some impatience with rocky transitions that slowly pass in this, at times, unpolished production.

Anna Cabral, the former treasurer of the United States during the Bush administration, is the inspiration behind this exploration into Chicana culture. Cabral's recorded voice on family matters and struggle sets the scene as members of the Chicano community strip themselves of their belongings while others engage in large swooping movements and narrative partnering.

Changing the mood to a romantic duet is "Doblez." The duo displays love and affection for one self and another with angular lifting, tandem jumping and ambitious intertwining.

LaWanda Raines initiates the crowning portion of the show as the 15-year-old entering womanhood and celebrating her Mexican heritage through spirited movement and fleetingly percussive music.

Davalos' choreography initiates and sustains motifs that have a clear path through this Mexican American travel through dance.

While the production is occasionally sloppy and disjointed, the authenticity and entertaining performances make this night an enjoyable one to remember.

The Latin Ballet's "Volver" informs the audience of the charming Chicano culture while leaving them with a Latin beat in their hearts.