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Alain Barker
IU Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
IU Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Friday, September 28, 2007

IU Ballet Theater opens season Oct. 5–6 with fall ballet “Perspectives 1900s”

Sept. 28, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Ballet Theater begins its exciting new season on Oct. 5 (Friday) at 8 p.m. in the Musical Arts Center with the fall ballet "Perspectives 1900s," a varied selection of vignettes, all rooted in one of the most inventive artistic periods in the history of dance. A second performance is scheduled for Oct. 6, also in the MAC at 8 p.m.

Fall Ballet

Dancers from IU Ballet Theater's 2006 fall ballet.

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"The turn of the century was a particularly fertile time for the art of ballet," said Michael Vernon, chair of the IU Jacobs School of Music's Ballet Department. "It was a time when instead of ballet following fashion, ballet actually influenced fashion, and this was wholly due to the success of Serge Diaghilev and his now legendary company, Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. Diaghilev brought to the West the stars of Russian ballet, two of whom are still household names -- Vaslav Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova."

"This program is intended to entertain and to educate not just the dancers, but also the audience," Vernon said. "IU Ballet Theater has enormous potential, and the experts who come to work with us are all people at the top of their field."

Having joined the Jacobs School faculty last year, this is the first complete IU Ballet Theater season under Vernon's direction.

"Perspectives 1900s" will begin with Michael Fokine's Les Sylphides -- itself an homage to the "sylphide" ballets of the early 1800s -- set to the music of Chopin, which was considered undanceable in those days. Famous for its style and the ethereal quality of its movement, it has been staged for IU Ballet Theater by world-renowned ballerina Cynthia Gregory and orchestrated by students of the Jacobs Composition Department.

Next, Isadora Dances, a collection of solos and two group dances choreographed by Isadora Duncan, has been assembled by Lori Belilove. Duncan, a pioneer and forerunner of dance innovators such as Martha Graham, was the first true free spirit in dance. Even though she came to her philosophy because of her belief in freeing dancers from the restrictions of classical ballet, these dances, to our modern eyes, complement the other ballets on the program.

Fall ballet

Photo by: Chris Meyer

IU ballet students Paul Dandridge and Jessica Schachne practice for the fall ballet.

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Nijinsky, famed dancer and a truly original choreographer, was influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphics for L'Apres Midi d'un Faune and created this ballet completely in profile. Nijinsky himself danced the lead role, which is famous for its measured steps, its concept of complete concentration and its still controversial finish about a faun who becomes entranced with a human maiden. The upcoming performance is staged to the music of Claude Debussy by the world's leading expert on the ballet, Ann Hutchinson Guest, with Claudia Jeschke.

The program will continue with Le Spectre de la Rose. After returning from a ball with a gift of roses from an admirer, a young girl falls asleep. The spirit of the rose appears and dances with her. Nijinsky made this ballet a legend by leaping out of the French window at the end of her reverie and was said by those watching the performance to have hovered in the air. Vernon has updated the ballet and has dedicated this version to Michael Fokine, creator of the original. He has invited New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Daniel Ulbricht to dance the role of the Spectre.

The evening will conclude with world-premiere choreography by Michael Vernon. In the spirit of the creativity and collaboration that Diaghilev fostered, Vernon has choreographed Brandenburg IV to the music of Bach, which will be performed live by the IU Baroque Orchestra, directed by Stanley Ritchie. Costumes are designed by IU's Robert O'Hearn. To show the timelessness of Bach's music in the spirit of the 1900s, the first section is choreographed in baroque style, the second section in romantic style, and the last section is neo-classic -- a contemporary view of classical ballet.

The ballet will be presented in the Musical Arts Center at 8 p.m. on Oct. 5-6. During the pre-performance "To the Pointe" discussion at 7 p.m. in the MAC mezzanine, Vernon will provide interesting background and production insights.

Tickets are available at $12 to $20 for the general public and $8 to $16 for students. They may be purchased at the Musical Arts Center Box Office (Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) or by phone through Ticketmaster at 812-333-9955.

Click here for the IU Ballet Theater Web site: