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Lush exuberance filled the stage this weekend at the North Carolina Dance Theatre’s (a Knight Arts grantee) performance of “Contemporary Fusion.” A part of the Ulysses Festival, Charlotte’s Spring Festival of the Arts, “Contemporary Fusion” closed the Dance Theatre’s 2012-2013 season with a roaring clang. It featured three radically different ballets choreographed by Jiri Bubenicek, Twyla Tharp and Sasha Janes.

"Rhapsodic Dances" Choreographed by Sasha Janes. Photo by Peter Zay.

“Rhapsodic Dances” Choreographed by Sasha Janes. Photo by Peter Zay

The show began with Janes’ piece, “Rhapsodic Dances,” set to “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.  Showcasing five couples outfitted in traditional ballet costumes of deep jewel tones, “Rhapsodic Dances,” was just what its name implies–an ecstatic expression of the music through movement. On pointe the dancers twirled, leapt and soared in perfect harmony to the score’s crescendos, trills and glissandi. This piece easily wrapped you up in the music and the movement, but little else. The storyline lacked any precision.

What Jane’s work lacked in plot, Bubenicek’s piece, “L’Heure Bleue,” picked up and jumped overboard into a zany, comedic realm where paintings come to life.  A mix of classical and contemporary movement, “L’Heure Bleue” told the age old tale of two men vying for the affection of one woman.  In 18th century frock coats, the male dancers fenced and cajoled their way into Madame’s favors.

"The Golden Section" Choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Photo by Tom Johnson.

“The Golden Section,” choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Photo by Tom Johnson

Rounding out the program was Tharp’s “The Golden Section,” a sparkling, buoyant piece where dancers attacked the stage in frenzied movement. Here plot also seemed secondary to movement, which was chaotic and unexpected: the traditional male female partnership was broken in order to allow men to partner men and women to lift men. Simply put “The Golden Section” was jazzercise on steroids.

After such a diverse and lively ending to the 2012-2013 season, fans of the North Carolina Dance Theatre can only wait in anticipation for next season’s programming, which is set to feature “Carmen,” “Cinderella” and “Othello,” along with yearly favorites like “The Nutcracker” and “Innovative Works.”

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