HGCBT's "Pas de Dudes"

Classic Ballet wit h a Western Flavor!


While classical ballet is considered by many as one of art’s purest treasures, there is a percentage of every audience that wishes to be almost anywhere else. The beauty and graceful athleticism is not enough to keep these restless patrons’ interest. These folks should get to know Artistic Director and Choreographer Fran Ichijo. With Pas de Dudes, this spring’s performance by Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre, Ms. Fran displayed her talent to take a timeless art form and make it captivating to an unusually diverse audience.

Pas de Dudes celebrated men in dance, often to the beat of today’s country music. A growing cast of regular male dancers from the HGCBT troupe were joined by talented students from the Kirov Academy and Pointe Park University, as well as several young regional professionals, and were the focus of several stunning pieces.

The evening began in grand ballet fashion with “Les Sylphides,” a 100-year old classic Russian ballet danced to the music of Chopin.  This intricate and sophisticated piece was immediately balanced by “Cow Belles” which introduced the youngest (and cutest) members of the troupe dancing with their fathers to the music of Tim McGraw.

From there the evening bounced back and forth between pieces set to the music of grand masters and country greats, introducing us to characters ranging from Swanhilda of Coppelia to saloon girls, from Kitri from Don Quixote to Little Indians.

The diversity of music was equally matched by Ms. Ichijo’s constant commitment to diversity of dance styles. The classic ballet of pieces such as the Harlequin Pas de Deux were rounded out by brilliant contemporary pieces, danced at one point to Apache Indian drums. There was even a boisterous hip hop piece, danced to Will Smith’s “Wild, Wild West.” 

The performance was, as every good ballet should be, a beautiful experience that left the audience in awe of the grace, artistry and athleticism of the dancers. But the evening was also, as any HGCBT fan can attest, the latest example of the diversity, wit and bold presentation that is the hallmark of  HGCBT. And with this show the music that best sums up the evening’s event would be the Denise Williams hit “Let’s Hear it For the Boys!”