Pixel Tracker

Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 2:03 am | Fair 46º

 
 
 
 

Margo Kline: State Street Ballet Does Motown Proud

Its collaboration with the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble puts a modern spin on classic hits

For anybody who’s ever been a teenager, State Street Ballet’s collaboration with the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble on Friday night — “Motown in Motion” — was pure delight.

The two companies danced before a sold-out house at the Lobero Theatre, and their razzle-dazzle infected the entire audience. Both companies boast thrilling young soloists and a high level of dancing skill, added here to recorded music by the likes of Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas and other Motown immortals.

The evening got off to a rousing start with Smokey’s “Get Ready,” featuring the Eisenhower’s Ellie Escosa and 10 stalwarts from the State Street company. Why didn’t we know before that Motown was meant for classical dancers, and vice versa? The Eisenhower company is billed as a contemporary company, and it calls Detroit home. State Street is ballet, of course, but the local dancers boogied down right along with the visitors.

Many of the numbers were choreographed by Laurie Eisenhower, founder of the Detroit ensemble and a former dancer with, among other groups, the stunning modern troupe Pilobolus Dance Theatre. Stephanie Pizzo of the Eisenhower company created the “Get Ready” choreography and several other numbers in the program.

Other highlights included Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is” and “Wonderful One,” and “Please Mr. Postman,” sung by The Marvelettes and choreographed by Eisenhower. Diana Ross and the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hanging On” was another contribution from Eisenhower, performed by Brittany Blumer, Alicia Cutala and Stephanie Pizzo of her company.

“Do You Love Me,” sung by The Contours, was danced by the State Street Ballet Young Dancers, to more choreography by Eisenhower. The first half of the program closed with “Heard It Through the Grapevine,” sung by Gladys Knight & the Pips to more of Eisenhower’s choreography. Amazingly, members of the audience kept their seats while dancers of the Eisenhower group and students of Gustafson Dance tore up the stage.

The second portion began with “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” sung by The Temptations to choreography by Bill DeYoung. Here, the professional dancers of State Street came into their own: Bonnie Crotzer, Ezlimar Dortolina and Leila Drake dancing with sensational front man Jose Edwin Gonzalez.

“Motomix” was the next number, with Eisenhower dancers rocking to Smokey’s “Quiet Storm,” “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” by Stevie Wonder, “Celebration” by Rare Earth and “Final Mix” by Joel Hall, who choreographed, and Scott Sediacek. Another highlight was Michael Jackson’s “Don’t’ Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” to choreography by Pizzo, closing with a brief moonwalk by one of the men.

The evening ended on a high note with “Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles to choreography by Gregory Patterson. Dancers from both State Street and Eisenhower flooded the stage, including some very small ones from the student contingent. The resulting rock-out left the audience clamoring for more, but the dancers had earned their curtain calls and a good night’s rest.

Rodney Gustafson, artistic director of the State Street company, joined the others on stage, flowers were delivered and people shouted their approval. In the program notes, Gustafson celebrated the combined companies’ “new creative dynamic.” Yes, indeed.

— Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.