Ballez is performance, hanging out at the barre, taking class, and finding a new frame for queer bodies to dance in.

Shows: Slavic Goddesses

Slavic Goddesses—A Wreath of Ceremonies
Conceived by Paulina Olowska
Choreographed by Katy Pyle
Original Music Composition by Sergei Tcherepnin
Performed by Ballez Dancers: Jules Skloot, Lindsay Reuter, Mei Yamanaka, Deborah Lohse, Madison Krekel, and Charles Gowin
Lighting Design by Madeline Best with inspirational quotes of Zofia Stryjeńska and Paulina Olowska
Costume Design based on Zofia Stryjeńska
Presented by The Kitchen
The Kitchen, 512 W 19th St, New York
January 26-28, 2016
“Although Olowska was the headliner, credited with conceiving the performance and designing and constructing the costumes, in many ways the show belonged to choreographer Katy Pyle. Pyle is the founder and artistic director of the Ballez, a dance group that seeks to create a place for the non-heteronormative in the world of ballet. Working in collaboration with the Ballez dancers, each of the solos Pyle created for the goddesses was distinctive, catering to both the needs of the character and the talents of the dancer. Deborah Lohse’s innate sauciness was channeled into a flirtatious Dzydzilelya, said to be the goddess of spring and romance. Lohse’s solo was all hip-swinging walks, low attitude turns, and jumps on relevé. Carrying a shaft of wheat, she was flirty and coy.

Charles Gowin’s beautiful line was played to maximum advantage in his solo as Wolas, described as the goddess of fatalism and magic. Said to provide a contact between the living and the dead, this Wolas frequently paused with one leg extended. Wearing gloves, the fingers of which tapered to points well beyond his fingers, he rolled his wrists and offered his open palms to the audience — simple, and an effective use of Olowska’s costume.

As Perkun, the goddess of the skies, Mei Yamanaka was the most contemporary-looking dancer in the roster. In a back-less leotard and leggings, Yamanaka several times balanced on one leg, spiraled into an attitude à la seconde, becoming the jagged electric outlines she carried in her hands.

These were dances composed of steps. Madison Krekel as Morena, goddess of winter and death, executed a slow pas de bourrée turn. Pyle paid attention to the dancers’ hands, feet, and eyes. Indeed, the most effective solo was the show’s last. Lindsay Reuter as Pepperuga, described as the goddess of prosperity, thrilled in an understated sequence that contrasted heel stamps performed perpendicular to the audience and deep pliés à la seconde while facing the audience. In plié, Reuter shimmied her shoulders and rolled her eyes in a way that recalled a god, yet was uncannily human.”

-Natalie Axton, HYPERALLERGIC, February 1, 2017