Zenon dancers in a scene from "Mariana," by Faye Driscoll. Photo by Steve Niedorf.


“You’re gonna see a lot of love onstage tonight,” Zenon Dance Company artistic director Linda Andrews promised at the top of the show Sunday night at the Cowles Center. And she was right. Much of the affection was directed toward Greg Waletski, who was marking his last performance with the troupe after a 22-year career.

The Zenon dancers, Waletski among them, are a versatile bunch, and the 30th Spring Season program, which included Wynn Fricke’s dream-like “Wine Dark Sea” and Mariusz Olszewski’s sensually charged “Hotel Tango (para Sharon)” showed off their many moods and skills.

The world premiere of “Mariana” by Bessie award-winning New York choreographer Faye Driscoll proved a particularly worthy vehicle for Zenon. The work explores the awkwardness, petty violence, false confidence, damaging group think and occasional tenderness of social interactions. The dancers roiled, pushed, pulled and tumbled through the potent piece, not only showing how the bullying tactics of childhood continue into adulthood but also focusing on the freedom that comes from the triumph of the assertive individual spirit.


From left: Tamara Ober, Tristan Koepke, Laura Selle Virtucio and Greg Waletski of Zenon. Photo by Steve Niedorf.

But the emotional highlight of the evening arrived when Waletski soared through a solo moment in the finale, Danial Charon’s heroic “Storm.” There were loud cheers and shouts of “Bravo!” from the audience. Fellow performers Mary Ann Bradley, Tamara Ober, Leslie O’Neill, Stephen Schroeder and Laura Selle Virtucio exchanged warm smiles with their departing colleague throughout the leave-it-all-on-the-stage work.

As the lights came up Andrews emerged, tears filling her eyes, while dancers Tristan Koepke and Scott Metille presented Waletski with a pink sash and a tiara. The man of the hour – now appropriately outfitted for the honor – held onto a bouquet of flowers and stepped forward, arms raised in triumph, to soak up the standing ovation, one meant not just for him but for all the Zenon dancers. They poured their hearts into the performance.

The word on Waletski’s sash? “Fabulous.” And what a fabulous way, indeed, to celebrate a bittersweet ending and a fresh beginning. Coming up, look for Waletski in the works of local choreographers such as Megan Mayer. He’ll also return to Zenon for guest performances and is launching a new career as an American Sign Language interpreter.


Go here for a review of the first-weekend program by Zenon.


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