Catching up–my review in the Chronicle Monday:

“Friday night at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts, I ended up sitting next to a mother and her 10-year-old girl. The little girl liked ballet, and the mother regularly bought tickets for Diablo Ballet at her daughter’s urging. San Francisco Ballet was too far to make it home by bedtime, and they were both quite happy with the professionalism of Diablo Ballet’s dancers.

It was a useful reminder of what would be lost if Diablo Ballet dies. The family-friendly chamber troupe has survived a tough year after losing the financial backing of a major, longtime sponsor. Over the weekend, it closed a pared-down spring season with a program that looked like an ideal vehicle for bouncing back. “Jazz Fever” offered three new works by three in-house choreographers, with accompaniment by the Brett King Cosby Trio – the first time Diablo Ballet has had the luxury of live music in nearly a decade.

I’d hoped for three distinctive ballets, each with something to say, and maybe even a gem from Viktor Kabaniaev, the trio’s most gifted dancemaker. In the end, all three choreographers seemed stymied by the unfamiliar musical forms of the atmospherically avant-garde ’80s style jazz, mostly compositions by the Brett King Cosby Trio’s own members. Each ballet noodled on to fill out the music, but without a more animating improvisatory spirit.

“Jazz Room,” by Kabaniaev’s brother Nikolai, was the most conventional in style, but also the most disciplined in structure. Frenetic stop-and-go solos for each of the four cast members framed a sultry duet between Jenna McClintock and Derek Sakakura, she falling backward into his strong arms and pretzeling her legs around his body into ecstatic lifts. If “Jazz Room” offered less than the role of a lifetime, you would never have known that watching McClintock (also a dancer with Oakland Ballet), who sculpted her part into a continuous dream of ravishing elegance.”

Click here for the rest of the review.

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