Dance South Florida (copy)

Dance South Florida professionals added a sensual flair to symphonic dance music in Thursday's Waco Symphony Orchestra concert.

Dance South Florida photo

—"Dance, Dance, Dance!," Thursday's Waco Symphony Orchestra dance-themed concert, succeeded in getting listeners' toes tapping and heads nodding, with the visual accent of four dancers onstage a fitting punctuation.

The dancers from South Florida Dance - Victoria Sierra, Diego Santana, Susanne Quinn and Steeve Jean Louis — provided a physical dimension to the waltz of Johann Strauss' "On The Beautiful Blue Danube" (popularly known as the Blue Danube Waltz) and two tangos by Astor Piazzolla and Carlos Gardel.

They fused visuals to the music — especially in Sierra's and Santana's passionate tango to "Oblivion," accompanied by concertmaster Suzanne Jacobson's soulful violin solo — leaving one wishing for a little more. A body of dancers to do Jerome Robbins' choreography for the dances contained in the WSO's dynamic performance of Bernstein's " 'West Side Story:' Symphonic Dances," perhaps. Or maybe a waltz from an opera, with multiple couples, rather than a few minutes at the end of the Strauss piece. I'd go for more tangos, but that's a personal preference.

That's all wishful, rather, wistful thinking, and possible only in a world where there's more money to pay for more dancers, a larger stage or a dance-heavier program. Instead, let's appreciate the WSO's and Music Director Stephen Heyde's openness to try new things and applaud, as Thursday's audience did, those onstage.

The dancing was the whipped cream and cherry atop a well-played evening of classical music that showed a broader range of WSO musicians in the process: Concert works called for such instruments as saxophone, bass clarinet, the harp, the English horn, a whistle, an accordion and a drum set, the latter added to five percussionists and a tympanist. 

The orchestra came gloriously together in the Bernstein "Symphonic Dances," with a revved-up brass section cranking out a furious jam on the suite's mambo section (which underlines the dance at the gym in "West Side Story") and bubbling in the jazzy "Cool." The WSO also showed a smooth and lyrical side for the song "There's a Place For Us."

Players also handled similar rhythm and tone shifts in Borodin's "Polovtsian Dances," which highlighted solo play from the woodwind principals, and sweetly lilted through the whole of the Strauss piece.

The Sierra-Santana performance to "Oblivion" served as the evening's dramatic high point with their dance offering a visual melodrama. Sierra started with golden fabric wings turning and swirling about her, wings removed by Santana on his entrance. The two tangoed intensely, their precise steps fitted into a close and intimate contact one suspects is rarely seen on the Waco High stage.

As Santana abandoned Sierra in the dance's final seconds, Jacobson traced a mournful, descending line on her violin, a moment where sound and sight reinforced the drama.

 Quinn and Jean Louis joined the couple in the finale of "Por Una Cabeza," the pairs performing as couples might at a milonga or tango hall, wheeling and turning in flashes of red, black and glinting jewels.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor