A standout Oscar Hammerstein lyric from “The Sound of Music,” singing about Maria, goes: “How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?”

I feel that way whenever I try to write about the transcendent magic of our professional dance company, Ballet Quad Cities. The breathtaking beauty, athleticism and precision of these wondrous artists just has to be seen to be truly appreciated.

A scene from Ballet Quad Cities’ performance Aug. 28, 2022 at the Outing Club, Davenport (photos by Jonathan Turner).

The disciplined, hard-working dancers (under the peerless artistic direction of Courtney Lyon) unveiled the first production of BQC’s 26th season Sunday. The first performance of Ballet on the Lawn I attended (three were scheduled all the same day) had to be moved inside the Outing Club ballroom, because of threatening weather, and thank God it was.

Not only did patrons get to bring their lawn chairs in the cooler, more comfortable setting – with the club’s gorgeous chandeliers, but I got to observe (and take photos) from the best seat in the house – the balcony – which I would have not been able to do outdoors.

The tremendously entertaining, mesmerizing program (of about 75 minutes) boasted what board member (and past president) Sigrid Zaehringer proclaimed in one of her brief introductions – a stunning variety of styles and emotions evoked.

“Inifinity,” danced by Jillian Van Cura, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022.

Sunday’s performance was a microcosm of the 2022-23 season overall – including classical and contemporary pieces, a ravishing Indian folk dance, and two haunting excerpts from a Holocaust-themed program that BQC will do at the Adler in October.

The first – “Infinity,” a mournful dance by Jillian Van Cura with choreography by Emily Kate Long – features string quartet music by Gideon Klein.

This is from the full-length BQC performance “Our Will to Live,” that will premiere on Oct. 8th at the Adler Theatre. It features music of composers who lost their lives in the Holocaust and is part of the community-wide “Out of Darkness: Holocaust Messages for Today” series this fall in the area.

“Infinity” was inspired by a work of art by Orion Middle School 6th grader Eve Wilbur, called “Infinite Tears.” In Eve’s words, “In my artwork, you will see crystal tears hung in the infinity symbol, which reflects the idea that all the tears that have been shed have infinite value.”

Madeleine Rhode danced in “Kaddish” at the Outing Club Sunday, Aug. 28 (WATCH an excerpt at the top of this story.).

The second one premiered Sunday was “Kaddish” — a spare, elegant, utterly transfixing duet between Madeleine Rhode and Christian Knopp — features solo violin penned by Sandor Kuti, with Courtney Lyon’s creative, ethereal choreography.

Since a Kaddish is the Jewish mourner’s prayer, I’m not sure why the dancers wore white, but the program noted it seeks eternal bliss for the deceased and peace for all who mourn. In BQC’s hands, it certainly was bliss to see the gentle, graceful movement of these two.

This duet, based on prints by Mauricio Lasansky, captures the grief, hope and peace in the experiences of Nazis’ victims and survivors. The prints will be on view at the Figge Art Museum from Sept. 10, 2022-Jan. 15, 2023.

Much joy in program as well

The Outing Club program was far from all serious as a whole, but abounded in carefree joy in many of the stupendous BQC works.

That included great energy and excitement in the opening “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” (by John Adams); the strong, rebellious confidence of “Matrimony or Machinery” (by Goran Bregovic), danced by Mahalia Zellmer; and classic traditional ballet of excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” danced with sublime artistry by Eleanor Ambler, Kira Roberts, and Christian Knopp.

The Indian dance “Garba” was straight out of a Bollywood movie.

The colorful, enthusiastic Indian folk dance “Garba” was guest choreographed by Deepali Phanse, featuring : Eleanor Ambler, Ruby Anderson, Claire Cordano, Sierra DeYoung, Stephanie Eggers, Madeline Kreszenz, Madeline McLaughlin, Kira Roberts, Jillian Van Cura, and Zellmer. (See an excerpt HERE.)

In authentic, earth-toned Indian dresses, the Garba honors, worships and celebrates the feminine form of divinity. This exuberant BQC performance (in which dancers used percussive sticks toward the end) is a more modern form of garba, with a song from a Bollywood movie, and the sticks helped bring even more energy to what was already full of ebullience and delight.

Claire Cordano and Nick Bartolotti (right) led the company in the finale, “Le Boeuf sur le Toit.”

The program was capped with the 1920 “Le Boeuf sur le Toit” (by Darius Milhaud), with playful choreography: by Courtney Lyon. The French composer originally wrote the brief chamber work (which means “The ox on the roof”) to accompany Charlie Chaplin silent films, but it premiered in 1920 as a Jean Cocteau ballet.

The fun eight dancers included a romantic, sensual pairing of Claire Cordano and Nicholas Bartolotti. Again, the thoughtful, precise movements appeared flawless. Even if I wasn’t in the balcony Sunday, I still would have been literally lifted up by these inspiring, magnificent artists.

To learn more about the rest of the BQC season, click HERE. To see a gallery of photos from Sunday (including a few from a later outside performance), see below.