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Encounter: to meet unexpectedly; to come


“He was such a creative person. As Artistic Director of the original Dallas Ballet, Mr. Skibine had not been choreographing. But as Romantic Encounters developed, it evolved from a depth of emotion drawn into action. The partnership of Britten’s music and Skibine’s choreography was almost like an impressionistic painting.”


— Allan Kinzie, a member of the original cast of George Skibine’s Romantic Encounters


face-to-face... Romantic Encounters, an abstract ballet, has a cast of three couples. This season’s production features: Alizah Wilson and Mike Stone, Diana Crowder and Ethan Slaughter, Lea Zablocki and Matthew Bejarano. Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge by Benjamin Britton is the inspiring score. “I love the music,” Thom explains. “It is so haunting. The cast portrays unexpected meetings, which are pensive, fast, slow or sensual.” Originally choreographed by George Skibine in


“You feel like you have visited her daydreams.”


— Thom Clower 1979, other dancers


ENCOUNTER WITH GEORGE SKIBINE


A ROMANTIC 10 • DANCE NORTH TEXAS • MAY– JULY 2019


premiered the work but Thom Clower performed it later including the tour of Central and South America. “We do not re-create from memory. We seek to re-create with authenticity. Video is for confirmation.” When asked about the value of re-creation, Thom says, “It is important to keep dance history alive. Every time I revisit the video, I find something special. I seek to propagate the memory of Mr. Skibine and yet I always find something new! Mr. Skibine would edit sections that he did not like.” Thom Clower, who serves as Trustee for the ballets of Geoge Skibine, is Artistic Director of Ballet Ensemble of Texas. Thom’s energetic style has inspired dancers for thirty years. Clower left Dallas in 1996 and says he “has come full circle.” “I love Dallas; its arts scene is growing. The Dallas public has options of dance with small companies as well as larger companies and touring groups. Dallas dancers are pure and committed,” Thom explains. “Twenty-five years later, this cast of three couples -- plus understudies -- have a different perspective and energy. This ballet is not a flash. It is pure technique.” Allan Kinzie, a member of the original cast, reported that working with George Skibine, as he created Romantic Encounters, was an amazing and terrific experience. “Being a part of this project was one of the favorites of my career and working with George Skibine one of my greatest honors,” states Lisa Owen, who was also in the original cast. “George was inspired by the Britten score. Both he and the dancers had a particularly enjoyable time working together to craft the piece. He had his outline for some movements which were tweaked to suit the individual dancer. Most of the ensemble work was clearly in his mind and was set down very quickly, as were the four pas de deux.” “He loved working the men’s section. It was really difficult so that meant major drilling. We had the whole piece completed in a week. The premiere was so much fun! The audience gave us a great reception. We performed the piece on tour numerous times so it gained nuance over time,” Lisa continued. Valerie Shelton Tabor, founder and Co-Artistic Director of Ballet Dallas, and Carter Alexander, Co-Artistic Director of Ballet Dallas, wanted to commemorate Dallas’ ballet


traditions. They contacted Thom Clower


and Carlet Sleeper Jensen to ask them to celebrate an original Dallas production. Romantic Encounters was the last choreography created by George Skibine and was last performed in Dallas in 1992. In contrast, this program features two premieres: Petites Danses en Noir et Blanc choreographed by Carter Alexander to music by Darius Milhaud. Durante Verzola, guest choreographer,


received the George Skibine


Scholarship from DCNT in 2012. He has created Trio for Six set to music by Mozart, which will be played live by Open Classical, whose mission is to put classical music into the heart of everyday popular culture.


BLOOM | May 10 & 11 at 8PM | Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak St, Dallas, TX 75204 | Tickets available at www.balletdallas.org.


11 • DANCE NORTH TEXAS • MAY– JULY 2019


photo by Arena von Lutetia


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