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Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Birmingham Ala.)


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#1 ronny

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Posted 29 October 2002 - 12:03 AM

The Premiere performance of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by the Alabama Ballet Company was a great hit for the people who showed up to give it a chance. (Original Choreographer Allen Hineline, resident Choreographer Roger Van Fleteren, music composed by Lanny Meyers. Artistic director, Wes Chapman)

I traveled a long distance to catch it, but it was well worth the trip. Just before leaving I read the original story by Washington Irving... but forget the old story because this ballet is quite a huge departure from the original. So I'll just go ahead and describe the actual performance as I remember it.

The ballet opens with a scream and some hoofbeats... another victim of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow! The curtain opens and a man lies there dead, a nearby family rushes over to find they are too late to help. The constable arrives and the body is dragged off the stage. The second curtain opens to the full stage and reveals the churchyard graveyard and a troup of "hollows" coming out of the cavity of an old tree to dance around. (the "hollows" reminded me a bit of the Wilis... but with a costume of ghostly white ribbons)

The scene changes and we find Ichabod Crane (David Blumenfield) as the schoolmaster preparing for another day of class as the parents arive to deliver the children, and Katrina (Jenefer Lauren) makes her first appearance along with her mother and younger sister. Now, at this point I must tell you that the Alabama Ballet company has their own ballet school with some very talented children. In my mind, these children were really the stars of the performance since they had 3 scenes that they danced. Now, they were not just skipping and jumping around, they were quite talented dancers and actors (about 14 children, ages 9-13) Those kids were great, which speaks well for the future of the company.

Well anyway, to continue, Katrina gives a gift of a pumpkin to Ichabod at the school. So this is where the story departs greatly from the original. In this stage version, Katrina likes Ichabod from day one and defends him and eventually marrys him in the last act. The scene continues on as the childred play and tease Ichabod with the pumpkin, and as the day winds down Ichabod is left alone with the pumpkin and puts it on top of a broomstick and pretends that it is Katrina as he dances with the broomstick. (by the way, I couldn't help but notice that David Blumenfeld was thrilled to have this leading role as Ichabod... he wasn't very big in size but he sure held his own with great enthusiasm and very great skill)

Ichabod wanders on to the church graveyard and falls asleep and there is a dream scene where the "Hollows" reveal some secrets to Ichabod.

At this point I have to say that the stage set was really spectacular. They had a schoolhouse front that opened to reveal the inner classroom and closed to show the front of the school... and they used a long simple arch with railings to represent the famous "bridge" of sleepy hollow. This bridge was on wheels and in one very great scene the "Hollows" spun the bridge around in the dark with Brom Bones on it to punish him as the strobe lights flashed. It was a great scene, very well done. This bridge was also used as a ramp to give the dancers passage on and off stage. It was a clever prop.

At this point, Brom and his rough friends tease and abuse Ichabod as Katrina defends him. She moves Brom and his friends off stage and this is where Katrina and Ichabod dance and fall in love. Another schoolhouse scene comes here where the invitation from Katrina is given to Ichabod for a party at the family house.

The party celebration is the big scene where all the players get to show off and dance including the children. Katrina favors Ichabod and it makes Broms very angry. Broms sneaks away and puts a Jack O Lantern on his head and comes back to pretent that he is the Headless horseman and ends up abducting Katrina at the end of the party scene... and end of act 1.

The second and final act is quite simple. Ichabod frantically searches for Katrina and has a confrontation with Brom Bones and ends up with the victory... as Brom Bones is revealed under the pumpkin head and is banished from the county.

The final scene is the celebration and wedding of Ichabod and Katrina. Everyone gets into this part including the father of the bride who is quite old with white hair and a cane and of course falls a couple of times for laughs. The biggest laugh came when Ichabod beggs the parents for Katrina's hand and the father refused... the mother promptly stomped her foot just oncen and dad had an immediate change of heart!

So all in all, the ballet was very well done with sound effects and great music (all recorded). Music was quite good, sounding a bit classical in places and a bit more complex and modern in other places. I got the distinct impression that this ballet is going to be a regular annual event here in Birmingham... but that is just a guess.

It definitely was a FAMILY ballet, designed to please even the youngest kids in the audience... it was a fast moving 2 hours and had a lot in it for everyone. It seemed to be a great hit. The ballet production and the ballet company were both quite impressive as they carried the whole thing off without any obvious errors. It was a great time, hope you all get a chance to see it someday. I think it is good enough to be a standard thing for holloween... but only time will tell if anyone else will actually pick up on it.

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 29 October 2002 - 04:50 AM

Sounds good, Ronny! And the reguggling of the original story is right in there with the nineteenth-century practice of rearranging things to make the most opportunity for dancing. :)

Now, someday you can come up to the village of Sleepy Hollow (formerly North Tarrytown), visit the cemetery(!), and cross over the modern high road bridge that crosses the millstream!

#3 vagansmom

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Posted 29 October 2002 - 11:13 AM

How I wish my classroom of 5th graders could see that ballet! The last two years, we've read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow during October. The children read Will Moses's version which is adapted for kids their age but on Halloween we listen to the original. We then compare and contrast the two versions. It would be great if they could also see a ballet based on the legend.

#4 ronny

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Posted 30 October 2002 - 06:30 AM

Vagansmom... perhaps you can make it happen in your area. Let your regional ballet companies know about it and you can refer them to "ballet alert" to read about it.

I have an extra copy of the program so if you want the extra copy, let me know. It is a wonderful ballet for kids and the title should bring in the paying customers at the holloween season to help your local ballet company, so everyone can win. The music and sound effects were recorded so maybe all that can be worked out in collaboration with the Alabama Ballet Company. They are a great group of people... why not give them a "hollar"!:) Alabama folks are quite friendly and helpful.

And Mel, I like the idea of reguggling the story also. In this case it would have been next to impossible to have all the pleasant music and dance without reguggling. So again, the 19th century practices are not so outdated after all. I think it worked in this case and so I also think that reguggling works in the 21st century just as well as it did in the 19th. So lets all "guggle" on into the future;)

#5 its the mom

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Posted 04 November 2002 - 10:16 AM

Vagansmom, if you're interested in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, you should contact Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Alan Hineline is resident choreographer at the School. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was actually first set on the Youth Ballet and performed last spring here in Carlisle. Speak to Ms. Wingard, our Executive Director, if you're interested in the ballet. Also, I note you are from Connecticut, not so far from Carlisle, PA. I believe CPYB will be performing the ballet again some time in the next few years, if you can wait that long. It definitely is a great piece, but then again, we love Alan Hineline and most everything he does.

#6 lillianna

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Posted 12 November 2002 - 05:31 PM

Ronny
I saw The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at CPYB. To me the most dramatic and touching scene was the Pas de Trois with Katrina , Ichabod and Brom. Did you find that dance as amazing as I did?

#7 ronny

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Posted 13 November 2002 - 04:45 AM

Lillianna,
I read a description of the CPYB performance and it sounded a bit different than the choreography that I saw... in fact I don't remember seeing the Pas de Trois at all! Brom was depicted as a rough personality and I can't remember a touching scene with him in the mix. Its quite possible that we saw two entirely different versions.

Now, it may also be due to my inexperience in viewing these things, but I simply don't remember it. I can't say for sure that it was not in the performance that I saw, I just don't recall it.

But on the other hand, it sounds as if we both enjoyed the new ballet. I thought it was quite nice and refined for something new. Didn't you think so too?

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 13 November 2002 - 04:59 AM

Interesting premise for a ballet, though, with a Washington Irving plot. Also good for tapping otherwise ignored choreographic possibilities, like a coda based on a New York Dutch party dance, the name of which escapes me. It's a sort of farandole - a snake dance - which winds its way up and down the halls of a house, then everybody rushes into one room, where the servants are waiting with glasses of liquid refreshment; everybody downs it in one gulp, dances in the room for awhile, then back to the farandole until the next room! Whee!:cool:

#9 G

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Posted 13 November 2002 - 07:29 PM

Originally posted by ronny
Lillianna,
I read a description of the CPYB performance and it sounded a bit different than the choreography that I saw... in fact I don't remember seeing the Pas de Trois at all!


The Pas de Trois was included in the AB performance. Jennifer Lauren danced the role of Katrina, David Blumenfeld was Ichabod, and Eduard Smirnov was Brom. Alan Hineline went to Birmingham to stage this production for the Alabama Ballet. Aside from a few artistic changes, the choreography was identical to the CPYB production.

G


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