Written by Lexie Erdos and Justin Kelly
Charlotte Ballet will join the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra to showcase a mix of neoclassical choreography and classical music at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, July 5 in the Amphitheater. Choreographers Mark Diamond and Sasha Janes created en pointe dance pieces to complement and energize the classical scores of Scherzo by Beethoven and The Four Seasons by Vivaldi.
The choice to select well- known classical pieces to be performed by the orchestra (the program also includes Tchaikovsky’s Pezzo in forma di Sonatina) was made by the curators of the performance, including Charlotte Ballet’s Artistic Director Hope Muir. The pieces have the advantage of being both popular with audiences and familiar to the musicians.
“The dancers will only have the opportunity to rehearse with the orchestra once before the performance, so it is really important to ensure that the music is already part of their repertoire,” Muir said.
By choosing pieces that are known both by the orchestra and the dancers, the curators hope to deliver a performance with the polish of a well-rehearsed piece.
Additionally, because the two scores were originally not written as a dance collaboration, the choreographers and dancers are given the liberty of being able to create the routines from scratch, with no pre-conceived expectations of what should be performed or included in the dances.
“We like to curate pieces that allow the dancers to have the freedom to express themselves creatively, which these pieces do,” Muir said.
Janes, the choreographer of “Four Seasons,” is also particularly interested in providing comfortability and flexibility to his dancers.
“The piece was originally made for the company three years ago for a different group of dancers,” said Janes, who is also associate artistic director of Charlotte Ballet and Chautauqua School of Dance’s director of contemporary studies. “As some dancers leave and we bring other ones on, we have made adjustments to the piece to make sure that each dancer is comfortable with the movements required of them.”
The excitement of the performance does not end with the live music, the freedom it offers the dancers, or the neoclassical take on classical scores, however. Additionally, “Scherzo” choreographer and associate artistic director Diamond is celebrating his 30th year at Chautauqua Dance. This performance is an opportunity for him to showcase how his work has changed throughout his tenure.
“This season being Mark Diamond’s 30th year with the company, I felt compelled to give him a platform to celebrate his accomplishments, which ‘Scherzo’ does beautifully,” Muir said, “Mark’s piece acts as a perfect celebration of his work.”
According to both Muir and Janes, Diamond’s piece reflects his accomplishments, growth and his funny, eccentric personality.
“Mark’s piece does have a quirky element to it,” Muir said. “He has such a wide breadth of work and many facets to his personality, which I think is reflected in the piece.”
“It’s always been great working with (Diamond).He has such an interesting perspective on what he wants to say through his movement quality,” said Janes, who has worked with Diamond since 2001.
Muir said the CSO’s involvement in tonight’s performance will be an exciting experience on both sides of the stage.
“Any opportunity to dance with live music is something I really treasure and certainly wanted to make happen during our stay at Chautauqua,” Muir said. “And of course, any chance to perform for the Chautauqua audience is always such a pleasure.”
Chautauqua Dance Circle will host a pre-performance lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 5 in the Hall of Philosophy with Janes and Diamond.