Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

IU Jacobs School of Music presents family-friendly spring ballet 'An American Evening'

WHAT: An American Evening by Indiana University Ballet Theater
WHEN: March 26 and 27, 8 p.m. with special 2 p.m. matinee March 27
WHERE: IU's Musical Arts Center, 101 N. Jordan Ave., just north of the intersection at Third Street
TICKETS: Currently on sale through the Musical Arts Center box office and Ticketmaster, tickets are $12-20 for adults and $8-16 for full-time students of any age with valid ID. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Ticket information is available online at, or call the box office at 812-855-7433.

March 3, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Ballet Theater will conclude its 2009-2010 season in patriotic style in the Musical Arts Center with An American Evening March 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. A newly introduced matinee is scheduled for 2 p.m. March 27.

The spring production will feature ballets that have been inspired by America and its dancers through works of the legendary George Balanchine ("Serenade" and "Rubies") and choreographic pioneer Agnes de Mille ("Rodeo"). "Serenade" was Balanchine's first choreography in the United States and was premiered in 1935.

The music, by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland, will be conducted by guest Jeff Holland Cook and performed by the Jacobs School's University Orchestra. The program also features faculty pianist Evelyne Brancart.

Set to Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, Balanchine choreographed "Serenade" with a focus on the large corps de ballet, converting its physical patterns into symmetrical shapes that many believe were inspired by the orange groves of California, said Professor Michael Vernon, chair of the Department of Ballet at the IU Jacobs School of Music.

"This has been called a myth, but it has a ring of truth to it," Vernon said. "Balanchine used certain chance happenings -- such as a dancer's fall in rehearsal and another's lateness to rehearsal, searching for the spot in which she was to stand -- and incorporated these human moments to create what has to be the choreographic masterpiece of the 20th century."

When asked what "Serenade" is truly about, Balanchine said the simple beauty of the dance provides its meaning. "Many people think there is a concealed story in the ballet," he wrote. "There is not. There are simply dancers in motion to a beautiful piece of music. The only story is a serenade -- a dance, if you like -- in the light of the moon."

"Rubies," the second installation of Balanchine's 1967 ballet trilogy Jewels -- set to Cappriccio for Piano and Orchestra by Stravinsky and featuring Brancart as soloist -- embodies a theme of polished extravagance. The ballet, which was first performed in New York, is characterized by the bejeweled crimson costumes outfitting dancers.

De Mille first presented "Rodeo" in 1942. The piece -- set to Rodeo: Ballet in One Act by Copland -- consists of five sections inspired by American ranchers. Rather than donning gossamer tutus, dancers adopt a traditionally Western look with button-up shirts and cowboy boots. De Mille was commissioned to choreograph the ballet by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo toward the end of World War II. She instructed her largely international cast to mimic cowboy mannerisms in some sequences and the plodding of horse hooves in others.

Vernon said An American Evening is a beautiful collection of ballet classics with universal appeal. "The standard here is exceptional," he said. "It's a great opportunity to see these talented dancers perform at a very high level."

Each of the ballets, though different in style and storyline, follows a historically American theme, said Vernon. He describes "Serenade" as iconic, with a soft, romantic style, while "Rubies" blends modern and classical with jazz elements incorporated into sophisticated ballet. "Rodeo" portrays life in the Wild West through hoedowns and line dancing.

This year, Vernon said, IU Ballet Theater has added a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on March 27 to accommodate convenient family viewing. He said the new matinee option will enable grandparents to take their grandchildren to a midday show, and ballet fans have another opportunity to enjoy the performances.

"If you're interested in culture and art, you'll enjoy An American Evening," Vernon said. "The ballet is educational, yet entertaining."

Tickets are on sale now through the Musical Arts Center box office (812-855-7433), online at or at any Ticketmaster location.

For more information about the Jacobs School of Music, see