New dancers, and a new restaurant

by Rob Tiller

On Saturday afternoon we went to the Carolina Ballet to see the same show we saw three weeks back, but with different dancers. The first work, the Ugly Duckling, by Lynn Taylor-Corbett, is a bright, jazzy ballet. It’s plainly engineered with children in mind, but the sweetness is balanced by stabs of darkness and menace. We saw Lara O’Brien, the original UD, at the beginning of this run, and on Saturday saw Lindsay Purrington in the title role. It was an interesting contrast. Lara was both regal and comic. There was never a question, though, that she was a swan. Lindsay brought to the surface more of the pathos of the story — the moments of confusion, hurt, and fear — and her transformation into a swan was a difficult journey. I found it surprisingly touching.

Margaret Severin-Hansen and Richard Krusch performed a pas de deux entitled Flower Festival in Genzano. It was very classical, and very beautiful. For moments the law of gravity seemed to be suspended, and the dancers seemed to be impossibly light, almost floating. Peggy is such an awesome technician that she makes you forget about technique, and get to the essence. She projected innocence, charm, and love.

Robert Weiss’s newest ballet is entitled Grieg: Piano Concerto. I played a version of the piece as a young piano student, and have never been overly fond of it since. But Weiss has put its somewhat diffuse Romanticism to good use. The ballet is in parts fast and furious, with dancers shooting about both horizontally and vertically. The allegro ensemble sections seem almost frighteningly complex. There are some wonderful quiet, tender moments as well. On Saturday, Lara O’Brien, Jan Burkhard, and Lola Cooper took the principal female roles, and were lovely. Lola performed the role created for Melissa Podcassy, which includes a long adagio solo. She radiated confidence.

After the performance, we talked for a while with Lola and her father, Brian, who was visiting from New York. She described days of five-hour rehearsals for the next show followed by a two-hour performance in the evening, and then the same again the next day. Grueling, clearly. But she wasn’t complaining.

That evening we ate for the first time at Market, a relatively new restaurant in Raleigh’s Mordecai neighborhood. It features fresh, local ingredients, and has a simply furnished dining room that makes you think organic. The service was friendly and helpful. The had the sweet potato latkes and the vegetarian stir fry, neither of which were like anything I’d ever eaten and both of which were delicious. We split a piece of pumpkin cheesecake, which was also unexpectedly delightful. We liked the place.