Telling the Story of Dance Shoes, and of Dance

posted by Wendy Perron on Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012
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Misty Copeland and Jared Matthews in Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. All photos by Richard Termine, Courtesy Capezio.

Ann Marie DeAngelo can put on a good show (she produces the Career Transition For Dancers gala every year), but she outdid herself with the Capezio 125th Anniversary Celebration. The narrative about shoes, sprinkled with humor and acrobatics, pulled this show together. Yes, the whole evening was sort of an infomercial, to quote Elizabeth Zimmer. But it was also a variety show, a cornucopia of fabulous entertainment that kept the focus on the main idea—shoes for dancers—thus celebrating dance in general.

DeAngelo created The Cobbler Rap, a sweet narrative about a pointe shoe cobbler falling in love with the dancer he makes shoes. It was brilliant to cast Craig Salstein as the cobbler because he has a certain pathos onstage. He fantasy-danced with the girl, Nicole Graniero, who in the end went with the dancer guy, the suave and athletic Daniel Ulbricht.

Tommy Tune spoke for many of us when he remembered dancing in his first pair of Capezio shoes at the age of 5. Tommy Tune! Has any dancer been as delightful, as relaxed, as loose and lanky as he? His long bones seem happy to shuffle and flap.

Here are some other highlights:

Mandy Moore’s star turn as a wallflower-turned-dynamo amidst the crowded stage of guys and girls from Break the Floor.

Misty Copeland in full sparkle—both her smile and her technique—in Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux with Jared Matthews.

The young Cartier Williams tapping out rhythms on a tiny platform, with rhinestone-encrusted shoes (designed by Capezio of course). Was one shoe’s unlacing part of the plan?

The light-hearted, sweetly accented, soft-shoe number, “Educate your feet, educate your toes,” by Noah Racey.

Mark Stuart’s Libertango with Jaime Verazin: They camouflaged their tricky partnering with her oozy sensuality, so each spectacular, daredevil lift was a surprise.

 

Mark Stuart’s Libertango with Jaime Verazin


The Manson Trio in a number from Pippin: Ooh, the smallest pelvic swivel carries to the back of the house when it’s choreographed by Bob Fosse.

The Lombard Twins, from Argentina: You can’t believe your eyes that this wild, rangy, hip hop–type tap movement is done exactly the same by two guys who are identical twins.

The Bad Boys of Dance in Adrienne Canterna’s Rock You: Although this is not stellar choreography, the combination of Rasta Thomas’s leaps, turns, and rock-star bravado; the simultaneity of classicism and hip hop; the cityscape projected in video (by William Cusick)—all combined to bombard you with youthful energy.

 

The Bad Boys of Dance

 

MOMIX’s Millennium Skiva with Steven Marshall and Nicole Loizides: We see this duet by Moses Pendleton almost every year at Career Transitions, but it never loses its wow-power. While it’s technically confounding (two dancers defy gravity on some kind of bouncy skis), it also tells a story of two alien creatures who finally get romantic.

The finale: Threading through aerial dancers and everyone else was a angelic figure in white, blessing the space with a silver hoop. She was the ever classic Martine Van Hamel!

But the most moving was Ann Reinking’s tribute to Tommy Tune. She talked about the working process with him—trying things out, maybe this doesn’t work, maybe that will work if we change something. She praised his “array of bravery, joy, and strength.” A heart-felt tribute, from one hard-working legend to another.

 

Ann Reinking and Tommy Tune