New forms and approaches will be illuminated in this year’s production of Ballet Showcase, manifesting the new direction the world of ballet has been heading in recent years. Put on by the BYU Department of Dance, the showcase will be performed in three shows from Nov. 17-18.
The performance features variations from the great ballet classics of "Raymonda" and "Giselle." BYU Theatre Ballet will be performing excerpts from the delightful "Carnival of the Animals" composed by Camille Saint-Saëns, and faculty member Shayla Bott’s ballet, "Apart".
Suzi Wood, artistic director of Ballet Showcase, shared how responsive and eager the dancers are to learn new ballets and works that are foreign to them.
“In the past we have staged some very traditional classical ballets as well as pieces the faculty had choreographed,” said Wood. “This year the audience will experience all new works from the ballet faculty ranging from neoclassical to stylistically contemporary ballets. I wanted the dancers to experience working with different choreography styles as well as to learn how different choreographers work in the creative process.”
She expressed that her experience directing Ballet Showcase has been very positive and the growth of the dancers is the most important part of the process. The growth they experience as they use their talents, techniques, artistry, discipline and the spiritual experiences they have as performing artists and as friends are the most rewarding parts of Wood’s time with the dancers.
Hope Worth, a dancer in her final semester at BYU, beams with gratitude for the chance to be on the Ballet Showcase team. Her favorite experience with Ballet Showcase started with a dilemma. “We didn't think we had enough time to learn an additional dance to fill the space in our show this semester,” said Worth. “We were going to cut a dance completely. But the dancers didn't want that.
“As a sign of dedication and passion, we all committed to learning our own variations, which are short solos in ballet. That meant every dancer took extra time outside of rehearsals to research and practice. A few weeks later we presented them to Suzi. I loved presenting my piece which was part of a trio, and watching all my teammates dancing what they loved, created and worked so hard for. Only a few of these variations will be a part of the showcase performance but it was a special moment to see such dedication and willingness to work hard for something we love. That is, to simply dance.”
As the Ballet Showcase club president, Worth has been working hard to put forth an extra measure of enthusiasm, calling her experience both fun and wonderful. However, the team makes it easy for her with their dedication through early and long rehearsals.
Dancer Brenna Bartholomew shared that this Ballet Showcase is special because it is composed of a small company. “Sometimes, in larger companies, it’s harder to get close to your fellow dancers and inevitably not everyone can or will be showcased. However, since we only have about ten people, we all know each other really well and everyone gets a chance to shine.”
For her, the highlight of this production is the music. Describing it as “incredible,” Bartholomew believes every dancer in Ballet Showcase is breaking new ground in talent and dedication.
Worth shared that other highlights of the production include a great deal of partner dances, emotional dances and short dances called variations. Variations are put together by the dancers themselves and are a component Ballet Showcase has never featured before.
“Every dancer is unique,” said Worth. “That is really what sets apart this semester's Ballet Showcase from others. Not only are there new choreographers setting dance numbers, but the dancers have a different personality that shows through their quality of movement. I know each of these dancers and I can see in each of them what dancing means personally. It is very cool for me and I am proud of our team.”
Worth shared that the production will manifest a beautiful form of art and expression. Although some may be afraid to attend a ballet because of preconceived opinions that it is “too formal,” Worth knows those who attend Ballet Showcase will observe a flavor of classical ballet and contemporary choreography styles that are diverse and engaging.