"You, who never danced to wild sweet notes,
Outpourings of nimble-fingered fiddlers;
Who never just 'sat a spell' on a porch,
Chewing and whittling; or hearing in pastime
The deep-throated bay of chasing hounds"
Local choreographer Heather Looney took on the daunting task of portraying Dressler's eloquently homespun words in dance. She did a masterful job of capturing the proud, pastoral essence of Dressler's original poem and enhancing it with the creative license of choreography. The result is a moving tribute to both the late poet and her beloved home state.
Charleston Ballet's Rob Royce cleverly transformed "On the Eighth Day," Phyllis Wilson Moore's playful homage to West Virginia's magnificent landscape, into a cute and energetic dance titled "Paradise," set to Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi."
The finale of the show is based on a poem by local singer/poet, Colleen Anderson. "Bob Thompson at the Piano" is as much an ode to the evocative and nostalgic power of music as to its titular pianist:
"He offers you the melody, and then
He seems to simply let it rise, the way
Grandmother put the dough into a bowl,
Covered it with a towel, untied her apron,
And told me to go outside, now, and play"
RCYB assistant director Dorothea Hereford's formal interpretation, replete with evening gowns and roses, fails to recreate the rustic warmth of Anderson's poem. It does, however, suit Bob Thompson's smooth jazz music, and the "Mountain Stage" pianist himself will play live on stage for the dance on Friday.
The River City Youth Ballet dancers might not be technically perfect, due to their age and inexperience, but they make up for it with exuberance and effort. The mark of great art is that it entertains and entrances the audience regardless of their knowledge of its respective medium. "Poetry in Motion" gracefully and beautifully marries language and dance with no prerequisite for enjoyment.