All Over Creation: First Flight

The thrill of seeing a young artist take that great leap forward creatively

Making that leap: Juan Pablo Flores
Making that leap: Juan Pablo Flores

It was clear from the dancer's first move – a spectacular arching of the back while in a thigh-burning crouch, during which an upturned hand fluttered delicately above his torso – that the choreographer had shown no mercy to the performer of the piece. That the choreographer and dancer were one and the same person showed just how far this young artist is willing to push himself as a maker of dance.

Juan Pablo Flores' "Breathing" was only one element of Ballet East Dance Company's fall program that sent sunshine streaming through a drizzly, dreary Sunday afternoon – piece after piece was charged with an urgent energy, the dancers moving swiftly and with a sense of purpose and intensity that could have lit the Dougherty Arts Center Theater without one bulb burning. Even so, Flores' dance shone with a singular brightness. His focus, his physical control, the freshness of certain gestures – gestures unlike any seen elsewhere in the program – that he used and set on Mindy Guerra and Chelsea Spalding, who danced with him signified a young artist breaking through to a new level. When you hear that overworked term "emerging" used to describe artists early in their careers, that's what it means: coming out of that place of raw, undeveloped creativity to a place where an individual artistic voice is taking shape.

Catching an artist in that moment is a thrill, like seeing the chrysalis open and a newly winged creature come forth to take its first flight. The sense that we were witnessing Flores take wing was reinforced after intermission when he danced "Engulfing Addiction," a solo choreographed by Ballet East Associate Director Melissa Villarreal. To a racing, heavily percussive score, he threw himself into a state of frenzied ecstasy, the wild look in his eyes matching his frenetic actions, communicating complete abandon. And yet he moved with craft and intent. The year that Flores spent training at the Ailey School in New York shows.

It's fitting that Flores should perform a work choreographed by Villarreal in the same program where he takes this step forward as a choreographer. It wasn't too long ago that this Austinite was herself making the leap from dancer to dance-maker. Artistic Director Rodolfo Mendez gave her that opportunity, and at Ballet East, he continues to make a place where artists can emerge, can make their starts. His philosophy was embedded in the program title: Even at year's end, Mendez finds A New Beginning.

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More All Over Creation
In Praise of Designers
In Praise of Designers
A show of gratitude as two of our finest, Ia Ensterä and Jason Amato, depart Austin

Robert Faires, July 17, 2015

All Over Creation: Come and <i>Don't</i> Get It
All Over Creation: Come and Don't Get It
You have a job; you don't need to make another one out of figuring out art

Robert Faires, June 26, 2015


emerging artists, Ballet East Dance Company, Juan Pablo Flores, Rodolfo Mendez, Melissa Villarreal

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