Review: Night Birds by Ventana Ballet
by David Glen Robinson
Ventana Ballet presented another in their Night Birds series of ballets at The Cathedral ATX, the former Landmark Missionary Baptist Church on 16th Street, repurposed as an event center and art gallery. If exquisitely choreographed and well-performed dances weren’t enough to entice a general audience, then Ventana’s strategy of presenting the dances accompanied by cello music certainly completed the evening to great satisfaction. The cello artistry was provided by Daniel Kopp and his friends Cory Blais and Rylie Harrod-Corral of Austin Camerata. Choreography and production were by Ventana artistic director A.J. Garcia-Rameau.
Ventana Ballet pays strict attention to the discipline and perfected technique of ballet, but the company isn’t afraid to stray from the temple in terms of theme and outlook. The theme of Night Birds was birds, by day or by night, a theme pursued consistently with feather-bedecked costumes, the titles of the pieces, and colored feathers strewn whimsically about the stage. And the choreography was filled with flying passages that seemingly only ballet can achieve.
The dancers, apart from Garcia-Rameau, were a new, evidence of the company's growing corps of performers. They are Kevin Murdock-Waters (although soon to depart for Ballet Texas in San Antonio), Caitlin Elledge, Mariana Alonso, Ripley Mayfield, Arianna Sotero, and Natasha Rader.
Cellist Cory Blais performed an immersive piece before the entrance of A.J. in her awe-inspiring showcase solo. Blais came to the fore again with his arrangement for three cellos of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. The piece was performed live to accompany the final ensemble piece, “Nightingales.” The audience felt both humbled and privileged to witness such art.
This was yet another close approach to artistic perfection by Ventana Ballet. It was an emotionally high-toned confection for a sultry summer evening in Austin.
September 21 - 23, 2023
August 31 - September 01, 2023
2403 E 16th St,
Austin, TX, 78702