Art of Motion Class Presentation: Hansel and Gretel

Bergen Community College, Ciccone Theater,
Paramus, New Jersey, May 25, 2006

A Review

Art of Motion, a dance school in Ridgewood, New Jersey, directed by Olivia Galgano and Lynn Needle, annually presents the work of its classes, each year loosely tied to a theme. This year it was Hansel and Gretel. Since the school offers a schmorgesbord of dance (ballet, jazz, tap, modern, acrobatic, what-have-you), one must put aside the theme and appreciate each separate dance for what it presents.

Who can resist four-year-olds in pink fluffy dresses who really do know what they are doing? We are treated to ballet, from beginner efforts to commendable point work, each offering a vision of progress from initial step-together-step to a well-executed series of forte turns.

We are returned to the plot by a charming folk dance with a familiar Bavarian song and with occasional pantomime. Whether or not there are blackbirds in the Black Forest, and that “Bye, Bye Blackbird” is really out of place and time is irrelevant. It is a good dance and enjoyably well executed. There was the opportunity for real a maypole dance that did not materialize (Pole too short? No time to research?). But never mind; the effect was gay! Guest artist Henning Rübsam had a great time being Papa and that was fun.

But one can’t help question using black tights under white capes for “angels,” and not really looking at a piece of mirror cloth to find how it might become water. I realize the constraint of budgets in the case of costuming but feel that when water is handled like a scarf and the emphasis is on “seeing the dancer” rather than the “water,” art is lost. On the other hand, we remember the delight of dancing gingerbread men, an imaginative fire, and a vision of a witch dispatched with gentle artistry. Choreographers included Olivia Galgano, Lynn Needle, Sally Taylor Sullivan. Lisa Giannone, Christine Reisner, Sally Kane, and Henning Rübsam.

A word about the theater—a stage house and shop to rival any other, a 300-seat auditorium, no seat vision impaired, a well-maintained scene shop and lighting and sound equipment, a gracious and helpful crew. Who could ask for anything more? Oh yes, Thomas O’Neil, who, with his well-appointed stage, made the design easy, and John Ehrenberg, with his knowledge of his lighting controls and his “designer’s eye,” made it possible to mount a tale with a semblance of place and time.

Ruth Grauert, May 29, 2006


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