Plus all the best dance performances and classes this month in Hampton Roads.
There are many awesome dance happenings in this month of the groundhog, Cupid, and (usually) blustery temperatures. I have to say that I could handle another six weeks of winter if the temperatures stay as mild as January was!
But I’ll stop talking about the (awesome) weather, and get on with the dance.
I had the great opportunity to chat with the Artistic Directors of TRDance and Virginia Ballet Theatre, Todd Rosenlieb and Ricardo Melendez respectively, to find out more about the upcoming performance at the Roper Theater on February 24th and 25th.
The performance is an especially monumental one for Virginia Ballet Theater (VBT), because it is the first in which the company will be featured as a main part of the show since VBT merged with TRDance many months ago.
Todd Rosenlieb told me, “The company has grown in small steps. In the last five [TRDance] concerts, VBT had one ballet piece each show.”
That classical ballet piece was often one of five or six contemporary pieces. The ballet that VBT will be performing this month, Graduation Ball, makes up the entire second act. As Todd says, the show gives VBT a chance to say, “Hey, we’re here, and we’re better than ever!”
The first act is a piece called Carnival of the Animals, which will be performed by students of the TRDance school. With fourteen sections, this dance has close to fifty different roles for the students. A mix of ballet and contemporary dance, six choreographers of TRDance staff and company dancers came together to create this work. The students in the Adaptive Dance Class will also be performing in the show.
The five VBT company members and the eight dancers in the recently formed VBT Ensemble will perform in Graduation Ball. The VBT Ensemble is made up of pre-professional dancers that are in the process of making the transition from student to professional dancer. In this show, all of the dancers perform together.
“The Ensemble dancers are not separated from the company dancers,” Ricardo said. “It challenges [the Ensemble dancers] and elevates their enthusiasm.”
Graduation Ball is a high-energy ballet that was originally choreographed by David Nichine and performed by Ballet Russe in Australia in 1940. Set in Vienna, the ballet recounts the tale of the graduation celebration of a young ladies college, to which the young cadets of a military college are invited. The story unfolds, exploring the obstacles and complexity of romance that ensue after the students from the two schools meet – the secret notes game, the girls primping in the mirror, the competition (which includes a fouetté dance-off, where two ladies try to out fouetté each other). There is also romance in the air with the meeting of the headmasters of the schools, performed by Kathy Brenner and Jeff Warner.
The music for this comic ballet was composed by Strauss, and incorporates a fast-paced version of the Viennese waltz. Ricardo described some of the sections as “perpetual motion,” he said. “It is very fast; they don’t stop moving.”
Ricardo choreographed the ballet after Lichine’s original steps. Ricardo considers this ballet to be part of the initial movement of the creation of contemporary ballet; there is a rawness to the choreography’s energy that was not often found in classical choreography at that time.
“The ballet is playful and technically challenging,” he said. “It was always intended as a comic ballet, with youthful drama. The music mirrors it.”
In addition to the “Let’s Have a Ball” performances, TRDance will be hosting the Opening Night Gala event after the show on Friday evening.
“If you support ballet,” Todd said, “I encourage you to come to the ball. It’s going to be fun.” There will be refreshments as well as a local swing band providing the music.
What an event, a performance and a gala! I’m certainly not going to miss it.
The Virginia Musical Theater will be performing the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach February 10th through the 12th. The shows are at 8pm on Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 2pm on Saturday and Sunday.
On Sunday, February 12, the Attucks Theatre Honors Award Ceremony will take place at 3pm. This year’s recipients are Geraldine Boone, Senator Yvonne Miller, Maizelle Brown, Brenda Andrews, Inez Howard, Joyce White-Tasby, and Margie Day-Walker. The ceremony features several tributes and performances, including a dance performance by the Elbert Watson Dance Company.
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana will be bringing their performance of flamenco and classical Spanish dance to the American Theatre in Hampton. The company is based in New York City under the direction of Carlota Santana. As stated on their website, their performances “uphold the purity and traditions of flamenco and classical Spanish dance while pushing the boundaries of the art form in new directions.” I have not yet had the opportunity to see a flamenco dance performance; it is wonderful that they are coming to this area.
Willett Hall will be presenting Freedom Train, the story of Harriet Tubman, on Thursday, February 23rd at 9:45am and 11:45am. The story will be presented by a combination of dialogue, dance, mime and music.
As I mentioned above, the TRDance Center and Virginia Ballet Theater will present performances of Carnival of the Animals, and Graduation Ball at the Roper Theater on Friday, February 24th at 8pm, and Saturday, February 25th at 7pm. The Opening Night Gala at the TRDance studios will follow the performance on Friday night.
The Mambo Room will be hosting the monthly social dances: the Latin Fridays Dance Party takes place every Friday evening from 8:30pm to 1:30am, with a beginner lesson at 8:30pm; the Chicago Steppin’ Sunday social will be the third Sunday evening of the month from 7-10pm; the Ballroom Socials are every first or second Saturday from 7-10pm; and the Southside Stomp will be holding “Valentines and Violins” on Saturday the 18th, which includes swing dance lessons from 5-8pm and a social from 8-11pm.
“Dancers aren’t made of their technique; they are made of their passion.”
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any dance news, info, events, or if you just want to chat dance. DYBO!