Dancers to Take Final Bow of Season at Second Student Gala

Chautauqua School of Dance Workshop II students, shown Thursday Aug. 8, 2019, will be performing Sunday in the Amphitheater for the final Chautauqua School of Dance Student Gala of the season. SARAH YENESEL/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Ballets have an arc: There’s a quiet beginning, a climactic fanfare and a grand finale of leaps, turns and tutus.

For students in the School of Dance, the past eight weeks have followed relatively the same pattern: a settling into Bellinger Hall, a chaotic clustering of shows and now, a final episodic gala. 

At 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Amphitheater, School of Dance Workshop, Festival and Apprentice students will take their final bows at the second Chautauqua Dance Student Gala.

On the bill for the afternoon’s performance are season favorites — including Walpurgisnacht, Mark Diamond’s “Shostakovich” and Michael Vernon’s “Sunday Morning” — as well as new works from School of Dance faculty and an adaptation of a Broadway classic.

The gala will open with a new work by Associate Artistic Director Maris Battaglia, choreographed to music by American virtuoso George Gershwin and featuring Workshop II students. Battaglia described the piece as “jazzier” and “happier” than her second piece in the show, “Moonlight Sonata.”

“One is very nostalgic and one is very happy,” she said, contrasting the two works. “Moonlight Sonata” was also choreographed by Workshop II dancers to Ludwig van Beethoven’s score of the same name.

“I’ve never had a better group of kids,” Battaglia said about the group of more than two dozen 13- to 14-year-olds. “They’re like little sponges — they absorb everything (and) they take corrections.”

The Workshop II students will also perform in visiting faculty member Patty Sprague’s “Lion King,” featuring the musical’s signature melody, “Circle of Life,” which, Sprague said, coincidentally aligns with the release of the new, photorealistic, computer-animated remake of Disney’s “The Lion King.”

“The music is so powerful — the music just says so much,” Sprague said. “This piece is more on the modern-contemporary spectrum, but it also has the flair of Broadway.”

Additionally, three dancers from the Apprentice and Festival levels will present works from Thursday’s annual Choreographic Workshop, in which 11 dancers choreographed 4- to 6-minute ballets danced by their peers.

Despite the heavy emphasis on classical ballet in the School of Dance, many of the ballets in that workshop were in the neoclassical and contemporary styles — not a repertoire for the devoted bunhead — according to Apprentice dancer and workshop organizer Elizabeth Corsig. 

Director of Contemporary Studies Sasha Janes’ piece “Foxtrot for Orchestra” is a 12-person ensemble, danced en pointe with foxtrot motifs and ballroom-esque movements. “Foxtrot for Orchestra” is danced to American contemporary composer John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances” from his opera Nixon in China

Resident choreographer and faculty member Vernon’s “Sunday Morning” is a neoclassical visualization of Lord Berners’ music, and abstractly and subtly references “Downton Abbey” in its costuming and patterns.

Diamond’s “Shostakovich” is an abstract, neoclassical piece, with influences of contemporary dance styles. The piece explores themes of victory, power, glory and innocence, Diamond said, set to programmatic music by the composer of the same name, Dmitri Shostakovich.

The afternoon’s showcase will close with George Balanchine’s revered Walpurgisnacht, a divertissement from the opera Faust. Director of Ballet Studies and Master Teacher Patricia McBride — a contemporary of Balanchine — last staged the ballet, which requires dancers to remain energetic, with striking musicality, for the school about 20 years ago.

This will be the aspiring ballerinas and ballerinos final sautés and chaînés on the Amp stage, encoring a season of daily rehearsals, countless classes and a handful of shows.

“The gala itself is just an experience and a demonstration of the talent,” Sprague said. “(Chautauqua) is a program that is definitely very educational — the demonstration is going to be of that education and their learning.”
Tags : danceSchool of Dance

The author Maggie Prosser

Maggie Prosser will be covering the dance programs, Institution administration, the board of trustees and the CPOA for her second summer at the Daily. Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, she is a rising junior studying journalism at Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College. Outside of her studies, she serves as the editor-in-chief of The New Political, an award-winning political publication at OU, and loves eating gluten-free bread.