The great choreographer George Balanchine loved a piece of music by composer Mikhail Glinka so much he choreographed to it twice. In 1953, Balanchine created the quartet Valse Fantaisie; in 1967, he revisited and reinterpreted the waltz music, creating a sextet as the second section of his ballet Glinkiana. One section of that work, "Valse-Fantaisie," has since taken on a life of its own.
This season, area dancegoers will have the opportunity to experience both versions of Valse Fantaisie.
The 1967 version will be part of At the Byham, the annual production of Point Park University's Conservatory Dance Company at Downtown's Byham Theater. The 1953 rendition, meanwhile, features as part of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's program Balanchine (April 15-17 at Benedum Center).
Former New York City Ballet dancer Paul Booser staged the eight-minute "Valse-Fantaisie" on Conservatory Dance Company's student dancers. "Aerobically it is a very difficult piece; the dancers are constantly running and jumping," he says. Choreographed in the romantic style, the high-energy, non-narrative ballet consists of a principal male-female couple and four other female dancers who dance in unison.
Joining "Valse-Fantaisie" on CDC's program will be three classic contemporary-dance works ranging in style.
Set to music by composer Felix Mendelssohn, choreographer Bill T. Jones' Bessie Award-winning "D-Man in the Water" (1989) is a modern dance: Jones created the work for Demian Acquavella, a member of his dance company who died of AIDS.
Trey McIntyre's "Blue Until June Suite," which made its premiere with the Washington Ballet in 2000, is a contemporary ballet set to a bevy of singer Etta James' greatest hits, including "At Last." The 32-minute ballet mixes a bluesy feel with slick, well-crafted choreography.
Rounding out the program will be Japanese choreographer Toru Shimazaki's "Bardo" (2006). Bardo is a Tibetan term describing the unsettling state of being between the end of life and the afterworld. Set to music by world-music artists Dead Can Dance, the 21-minute piece for 12 dancers "is a killer" (no pun intended), says 1994 Point Park graduate Cheryl Mann, who staged the work on CDC's dancers.
Mann, a former Hubbard Street Dance Chicago dancer, describes the work as "very physical," with choreography that blends European contemporary dance with movement drawn from the martial arts and Japanese culture.
At the Byham, Feb. 24-26. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St. Downtown. 412-392-8000 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com
- Photo courtesy of Drew Yenchak.
- Bill T. Jones' "D-Man in the Water."