Review: Feelin' Alright

By Jim Rutter

Balletomanes, rejoice — "Feelin’Alright" at the Painted Bride introduces Christopher Fleming's new classical company, Ballet Fleming, in an evening of works that display its founder’s choreographic versatility.

Long Train Running starts with the thunder of bluegrass and bodies raining down on stage in bold leaps, cartwheels and explosive turns. Lively ensemble segments blend ballet and swing before transitioning into Jake Nowicki’s lithe, athletic solo of dustbin masculinity, which shifts to a female trio of delicate pointe work in Time for Three’s riff on the Beatle’s “Blackbird.”

Kaguya Hime’s love triangle depicts a young bride torn between a kimono-clad feudal lord and a peasant. Soft and delicate cradling contrasted with the steady arabesques and powerful elevations.

Fleming’s Four Studies for Orchestra showed dramatic depth. Samantha Barczak and Alex Ratcliffe-Lee latched hands across open space; their eyes locked, the distance threatens a rift at any moment. She tiptoes away, nearly escaping the lone finger that lies in his palm; he swings her back into an arm locked behind her back.

Stravinsky’s somber strings mirror Fleming’s melancholic reflection — the most intense human bonds often prove most fragile. Peter Jakubowski’s lighting emblazons the stage in a pale yet fierce hue as the pair takes delight in lifts and lingering turns. The partnering becomes proud, Barczak’s posture morphs from trepidation, and the piece ends on arms raised high in exhilaration.

The evening concluded with Janis and Joe, a rousing narrative built on Joplin and Cocker songs. Originally set on an expanded ensemble in 2000, it showed the first of the nascent company’s challenges: They need a much larger space in which to perform. Fleming has already secured Drexel’s Mandell Theater for a March world premiere; he’ll also need rehearsal time for the ensemble to perfect their timing.

But "Feelin’ Alright" indicates that if this young company meets these challenges, the rewards for the Philadelphia dance community could prove immense.

$25, 9/15 at 7PM. Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St.