New home, new show for Menlowe Ballet | March 27, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Arts & Entertainment - March 27, 2013

New home, new show for Menlowe Ballet

April performances include a world premiere, encores of popular works

by Renee Batti

Just in time for spring, the local dance troupe Menlowe Ballet is experiencing a sort of renewal as it stages its mid-April performances: It will be the company's first production performed in a space it can call "home," the Menlo-Atherton High School Performing Arts Center.

"I'm so jazzed about getting into this center — it's our new home theater," says Lisa Shiveley of Atherton, the company's executive director.

The company of 15 dancers will perform "Reverie" on Friday through Sunday, April 19-21, showcasing the world premiere of guest choreographer Viktor Kabaniaev's "Sweet Sadness," and reprising Artistic Director Michael Lowe's "Chuntian" and "Surfside."

The two-year-old Menlo Park-based company had staged earlier productions at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts and the Bayside Performing Arts Center in San Mateo, but Ms. Shiveley worked with Menlo Park city staff to finally firm up stage time in town. The city's contribution to the building of the M-A center opened the door for non-high school performances, in the interests of community performing arts, but it took the city some time to work out booking logistics — hence the delay for Menlowe Ballet.

As a warm-up for the spring dance concert, Menlowe Ballet will give a free performance to M-A students on April 19, Ms. Shiveley says, adding that, with the free concert, the company hopes to show its appreciation for all the community support it has received.

Music and memory

Mr. Kabaniaev set "Sweet Sadness" to Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D minor, music he'd been listening to around the time Mr. Lowe, the artistic director, asked him to create a work for the local company. The concerto, he says, evoked days and experiences gone by, creating in his mind "pictures of the past."

The Russian native says he creates abstract ballet, and wants the audience to interpret the work for themselves. "I don't want to chew for the audience," he says. But he offers a personal view of his latest work, which he developed as he worked with Menlowe Ballet dancers Vincent Chavez and Coreen Danaher.

"For me, it's an individual looking back, and remembering things with sadness," Mr. Kabaniaev says. He experiences that sweet sadness himself, he says, when remembering his early life in Russia, also in Germany. "I left my heart there. ... I'm affected by pictures of the past."

Mr. Kabaniaev trained at the prestigious Vaganova School in St. Petersburg, Russia. As a dancer, he has performed throughout the world, including France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Poland, Iraq, Japan and Singapore. He has created more than 40 works for companies including the Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Austin, Smuin Ballet, and Moving Arts Dance, and his works have been presented worldwide, according to his biography.

He now lives in the Bay Area.


"Reverie" will be staged at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 21. Tickets ranging from $28 to $45 may be purchased at or by calling 800-595-4849. The Menlo-Atherton High School Performing Arts Center is at 555 Middlefield Road in Atherton.


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