Ballet Tucson showcases 'versatility' of dancers in Fall Concert this weekend
From classical to cutting edge, Ballet Tucson will present a "diverse" fall concert this weekend.
While there isn't a theme set for the performance —it's a mixed repertory program — the numbers all complement each other, said Margaret Mullin, the artistic director for Ballet Tucson.
"It feels like we're emerging, blossoming out of our COVID year, and it is really important to show the diversity and versatility of our artists. And the audience can see the range of what they're capable of. I guess that in its own way, that is the theme of all our programming this year. It seems to be about all that ballet can be and what our artists can be, so people can get excited about how much they can experience with Ballet Tucson," Mullin said.
Chieko Imada, the ballet's associate artistic director and resident choreographer, compiled a collection of variations and corps numbers from the classical 1898 ballet "Raymonda."
The ballet was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and was first performed by the Imperial Ballet in the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in Russia.
While the selected pieces do not tell the complete story of "Raymonda," the ornate tutus and "virtuosic dancing" associated with the ballet will be featured.
"This piece is all beautiful tutus and the grandeur of the classical ballet experience," Mullin said. "It also has some traditional folk dance elements."
The folk dance is what is known as character dance. Mullin said it translates into the movements of the upper body — or the port de bras.
Aside from the classic, which the company has performed numbers from in the past, there will be three Ballet Tucson premieres.
She said they're all created by choreographers under the age of 40 who are "rising voices" in the industry. For example, "Felicity Found" was choreographed by Mullin.
It had been a digital piece set in the Kansas City Museum for the Kansas City Ballet. Mullin developed the short piece, originally performed by around 10 dancers, into a larger production with 24 dancers. It is choreographed to music by Antonio Vivadi.
"I created it during the height of the pandemic shutdown and it was very much about just hope and joy that dance inspires, and it is still very much something that we should all feel," Mullin said. "I decided to resurrect it and make it a longer piece. It is set to Vivaldi music and it showcases the color palette of fall. I feel like Vivaldi is always great at capturing the feeling of fall in the music."
The second premiere is the pas de deux from "Klein Perspectives." South African choreographer Andrea Giselle Schermoly was inspired by the artwork by Nouveau réalisme artist Yves Klein. Klein's work features vibrant monochromatic figures on stark white canvases. He was also recognized for his involvement with performance art, which usually resulted in the creation of some of his most popular paintings.
Schermoly wrote that her modern ballet is "an exploration of emotional tones, miscommunication and our relationships with ourselves and others."
"I intend to bring the larger piece to Ballet Tucson some day," Mullin said. "It is a contemporary piece, and I believe it has such a powerful sensitivity and artistry that she brings out of dancers. It'll be danced by Danielle and Liang Fu, and it is a very compelling pas de deux."
Last, but not least, the highlight of the season is "In Creases" by Justin Peck, choreographed to "Four Movements for Two Pianos" by Philip Glass. Peck is a Tony Award-winning choreographer recognized by his neo-classical pieces.He was one of the dance masterminds behind Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story."
"In Creases" first premiered in 2012 with the New York City Ballet - it was the first piece Peck created there, and Mullin shared that he offered it to be done at Ballet Tucson for the concert as it is the one "he still loves." Peck is the resident choreographer and artistic advisor at the New York City Ballet.
"He is truly a really gifted choreographer and is considered a successor of George Balanchine, which is a reputation he has earned," Mullin said. "He is a brave choreographer, always trying new things but also maintaining his roots."
She described the style of "In Creases" as geometric in the ways the dancers' bodies move and the shapes they create in their space.
She said the company is looking forward to performing this weekend, and Mullin is just as joyful.
"Time has flown by so quick. I can't believe it is November already," Mullin said. "But I'm just so excited for the audience to see this show."
Performances will be held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Leo Rich Theater. Tickets are available online at Ticketmaster or through the Tucson Convention Center Box Office.
Bianca Morales is TucsonSentinel.com’s Cultural Expression and Community Values reporter, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.