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Christopher Hyde

Christopher Hyde's Classical Beat column appears in the Maine Sunday Telegram.

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Posted: February 10, 2015

Portland Ballet’s ‘Boy Meets Girl’ is classical in style & ideal for Valentine’s Day

Written by: Christopher Hyde
    Portland Ballet Company's Erica Diesl in "Boy Meets Girl." Photos by Justin Day

Portland Ballet Company’s Erica Diesl (left) and Morgan Brown Sanborn (right) in “Boy Meets Girl.” Photos by Justin Day

After attending the opening night of the Portland Ballet’s Valentine’s Day production, “Boy Meets Girl,” I dreamed about a ballerina falling on our ubiquitous ice. Instead of a cloud of swear words, she had a collection of cartoon balloons over her head, each with a different ballet attitude or pose.

The point, if there is any to dreams, is that ballet is a language, and one that can be quite precise.

The characters in “Boy Meets Girl,” set in an Italian restaurant of the 50s and danced to a fine collection of golden oldies, have individual stories to tell, and sometimes complex interactions, all portrayed by pose and motion. One can conceive of classical ballet as a fugue, where the motions of the dance are the melodic lines, which converge into harmonious poses.

“Boy Meets Girl,” choreographed by Nell Shipman and Roberto Forleo, is generally classical in style, with a few modern moves, imaginative lifts and good work en pointe.

The ballet, which is about an hour and 20 minutes long, without intermission, has a plot featuring The Girl Without a Date, danced by Kelsey Harrison. She finds the man of her dreams after being wooed by four ballerinas on a Girls Night Out along with a couple of hard-drinking Ladies Unlucky in Love, danced with some nice cynical touches by Erica Diesl and Morgan Sanborn.

Harrison is the picture of prim innocence, reluctant to join in a Mambo Italiano or a trio with the luckless ladies, but her final dance, with Derek Clifford as the waiter, is eroticism personified. His unlocking of her coiffure, releasing a cascade of auburn hair, is a lovely touch indeed. She also has a wonderful pas de bourrée, gliding over the stage as if not of this earth.

The cast is completed by a match-making waitress, Lindsay Cregler, two couples, one newly in love and the second having been around the block, and a trio of a man and two women, one the steady inamorata and the second “an old college friend,” creating some humorous friction. All are well characterized, but Forleo, who with Deborah Grammatic dances the first couple, steals the show with his athleticism.

The intimate setting of the studio theater makes the audience seem part of the action, providing an ideal setting for a Valentine’s Day night out.

WHAT: Portland Ballet Company’s “Boy Meets Girl” |
WHERE: Portland Ballet Studio Theater, Portland
REVIEWED: Feb. 6. Show runs through Saturday.
TICKETS: $25 in advance, $30 at door; Saturday includes post-show champagne and cheese reception sponsored by Aurora Provisions. Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 at the door.

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