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SPOTLIGHT:
GALAS
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Joanne Zimbler
Galas
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The California Club
Luminario Ballet
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Luminario's Winterriese at the Winter Gala

by Joanne Zimbler
December 15, 2017
The California Club
538 S. Flower St.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 622-1391

Featured Dance Company:

Luminario Ballet
Luminario Ballet (office)
PO Box 252122
Los Angeles, CA 90025
818-395-6506
www.luminarioballet.org

At last, Luminario Ballet debuted it’s full course of “Winterreise” after last March’s sampler platter written about here in a previous article and man was it a feast for the eyes. And our stomachs too as it turned out since it debuted at a luxurious gala event replete with delicious offerings to satisfy all of the senses.

The elegant California Club hosted the Los Angeles based ballet company’s gala fundraiser December 15, 2017 to donors and supporters who were greeted with offers of champagne upon entering the splendidly appointed room. Old friends and acquaintances greeted one another and caught up for about an hour enjoying the crudités and live chamber music before the sumptuous dinner was served. Placed on every table were the specific costs of the company’s supplies including pointe shoes and aerial equipment among other things. After the dinner, an auction was held to raise the money for the items listed on the tables in addition to other various costs. The spirit of generosity was contagious; volunteers circulating about the room to collect the money had trouble keeping pace with the volume of bidders. The largess of so many was a delight to witness.

Finally was the reward of the evening: “Winterreise”, a performance fashioned by a poet, a composer, and a choreographer. In 1823, inspired by Wilhem Muller’s tragic 24 part poem, Franz Schubert set it to music - piano and baritone. And in 2017, Judith FLEX Helle was equally inspired and created her 24 part ballet, an emotionally resonant story depicted beautifully by four supreme talents. Baritone David Castillo, a singer with an impressive pedigree performing with world class operas and philharmonics was accompanied on piano by award winning pianist and composer Francois Chouchan. On stage, equally unparalleled in talent were two of Suzanne Farrell’s finest dancers: Thomas Garret Brown and Allynne Noelle both former Suzanne Farrell dancers (the company celebrated it’s last performance this month). These two have extensive history dancing together and it showed; the pair’s chemistry was palpable. A principal dancer for years with Miami City Ballet and Los Angeles City Ballet, Noelle performed as a soloist with Suzanne Farrell where she became quite the star. And Brown, last seen with Luminario dazzling in “The Last Supper” was an ideal partner for Ms. Noelle. His strength and grace commanded the stage with his classical look and comportment redolent of Schubert’s era. The motivation for the young man’s journey in the deep heart of winter is ostensibly his lost love, but Brown suggested a deeper sense of the existential despair inherent in the the journey. The deep sense of pathos conveyed in his memories of his lost love as her specter followed him on his journey was gorgeously rendered in fluid lifts which suspended her in the air, where she seemed to remain throughout, hovering constantly about him, defining his wretched misery.

The haunting performance, so polished and sensual left the evening’s donors and patrons more than satisfied that their donations were well earned and much deserved. This is a company with a shrewd sense of how to use talent and offers them innovative new ways to reach their own new artistic achievements. Both FLEX Helle’s ambition and imagination are boundless, her talent enormous. We can’t wait to see what Luminario has in store for us next. Thanks to her and all of the evening’s generous donors, 2018 is sure to be another stellar year for one of Los Angeles’ finest and most diverse dance companies.
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