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BalletMet Columbus presents: A Russian Revolution

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A Russian Revolution

May 12 - 15, 2005

Mershon Auditorium

Four dance works spanning the history and future of cutting-edge dance. In addition to BalletMet's world premiere of the daring Firebird by Stanton Welch, the bill features two ballets with a history of inspiring controversy: the radically visceral The Rite of Spring, choreographed by Doug Varone and performed by BalletMet and OSU dancers; and Nijinsky's sensual, once-scandalous L'Apres-midi d'un Faune (The Afternoon of a Faun), staged by OSU's John Giffin and performed by OSU dancers.

All three works received their original premiere by Ballet Russes, the groundbreaking European dance company led by Sergei Diaghilev from 1909 to 1929. In keeping with Diaghilev's tradition of presenting new works by emerging talent, BalletMet will also premiere Heart Strings, a brand-new work by Columbus-based choreographer Maria Glimcher.


Wild wigs and prosthetic facial parts are the outward signs of inner evil in the dark, gray world of Stanton Welch's Firebird, where a sinister preacher has converted a village of people into his minions, including its children, who will be danced by BalletMet Academy students.

First premiered by Ballet Russes in 1910, Firebird has traditionally told the story of a Prince who frees a Princess from a wicked sorcerer with the help of a mystical Firebird creature who is part bird, part woman. Mr. Welch's version, however, which is set to Stravinsky's 20-minute-long suite of the original score, focuses on the Firebird and her battle to rescue the townspeople's souls from evil's harm. It also features costumes created by designer Holly Hynes, New York City Ballet's Director of Costumes, and constructed by BalletMet's Costume Shop.

BalletMet Artistic Associate Stanton Welch, who is also Artistic Director of Houston Ballet, has been described by The New York Times as "one of the hottest talents in ballet." Known for his diverse style, Mr. Welch has been commissioned by companies such as the Royal Danish Ballet, England's Birmingham Royal Ballet and Royal Ballet School, American Ballet Theatre, and San Francisco Ballet. A native of Melbourne, Australia, Mr. Welch trained at San Francisco Ballet School after beginning his dance studies in 1986 at the relatively late age of 17. In 1989 he joined the Australian Ballet, where he was lead soloist and resident choreographer for a total of 14 years.


The chilling tale from Doug Varone's The Rite of Spring that he created for New York's Metropolitan Opera in 2003 remains the same; however, the ape-like humans and loincloths have been replaced by clean-cut denizens of 1950s suburban America outfitted in pastel costumes specially made by the BalletMet Costume Shop. Inspired by the short story The Lottery, the ballet chronicles a civilized group of acquaintances ritualistically selecting one of their own to be the victim of human sacrifice. Its intense emotion is in keeping with The Rite of Spring's legacy; its 1913 original premiere by Vaslav Nijinsky in Paris incited a near-riot in the theater, though whether it was in response to Stravinsky's violent-sounding score, the story of pagan sacrifice, Nijinsky's bizarre choreography, or the provocations of an anti-Stravinsky element in the audience is not certain.

Choreographer Doug Varone, who created his The Rite of Spring for New York's Metropolitan Opera in 2003, danced as a principal with the Limón Dance Company and the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company before founding Doug Varone and Dancers in 1986. He has received commissions from such companies as Pennsylvania Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Toronto Dancemakers, Batsheva Dance Company, the Limón Dance Company, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and Colorado Ballet, and choreographed and staged works for the Minnesota Opera, New York City Opera and Washington Opera. Among the awards he has received are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography and several choreography fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Created for Ballet Russes in 1912, Vaslav Nijinsky's first choreographic effort caused almost as much uproar at its premiere as his The Rite of Spring would the following year. Besides L'Apres-midi d'un Faune's shocking story-of a mythological half-man, half-goat creature who fantasizes about encounters with wood nymphs-the modern ballet introduced a revolutionary style of choreography in which bare-footed dancers appear in profile as if inhabiting a flat, two-dimensional plane. Due probably to the outrage that its performances drew, L'Apres-midi d'un Faune (The Afternoon of a Faun) disappeared from stage after only a few years; in the 1980s, dance notation specialist Ann Hutchinson Guest reconstructed the choreography using Nijinsky's original notebooks.

Staging L'Apres-midi d'un Faune will be OSU Dance Professor John Giffin, who teaches ballet, composition, notation and repertory. Mr. Giffin has danced with Les Grands Ballets Canadians in Montreal and toured with the Heritage Dance Theater. In addition to co-producing An Evening with Igor, choreographic works set to music of Stravinsky, he created Last Songs for the 1991 Cleveland Performance Art Festival and was commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts to create The Fall River Follies. Mr. Giffin, who received a Master's of Arts from OSU and a Bachelor's in Fine Arts from the Juilliard School of Music, has received grants from the Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and the OSU Office of Research, as well as choreographic fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.


A contemporary work featuring women dancing en pointe, Maria Glimcher's Heart Strings is the story of a man and woman who decide whether to stay together in a relationship after examining three other couples in different stages of intimacy. One pair is in the thrilling throes of new love, while another runs hot and cold, and a third suffers a malaise borne of familiarity and neglect. Presented in five movements, Heart Strings features music by Ottmar Liebert and Astor Piazzolla and specially designed costumes by BalletMet Costume Shop.

Maria Glimcher, who makes her BalletMet choreographic debut with Heart Strings, currently teaches modern at Otterbein College, and ballet, modern, and jazz at BalletMet Dance Academy, where she is also the Rehearsal Director of YouthMet, a teen ensemble that performs a multi-cultural repertoire. Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, Ms. Glimcher graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts. She danced with Syncopated Inc., Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Ballet Hispanico and Columbus Dance Theatre, and made a guest appearance with BalletMet. In addition to working with such choreographers as Dwight Rhoden, Donald McKayle, Donald Byrd and Ron Brown, Ms. Glimcher has choreographed for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II, Miami Valley Dance Company, Otterbein College and YouthMet.

May 12 - 15, 2005

Mershon Auditorium

Tickets: $15, $25, $37, $47

Thursday, May 12, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, May 13, 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 14, 8 p.m.

Sunday, May 15, 2 p.m.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk, jm4364!

We'd love to hear why you loved the program so much -- dancers, choreography, sets, costumes, etc. We don't get to hear much about Ballet Met, and we'd love any descriptions and opinions you might share.

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