The BYU Department of Dance presents BYU Theatre Ballet in concert Feb. 2-4. Theatre Ballet will perform excerpts from La Sylphide, Birthday Variations by Gerald Arpino and other assorted works.
Tickets are $12 and are available at the BYU Ticket Office in the Harris Fine Arts Center or Marriott Center, by phone at 801-422-2981 or online at byuarts.com.
“We are really excited about our show this year,” said Shayla Bott, artistic director. “We have gone through a pretty thorough process to receive permission from the Gerald Arpino Foundation to perform his historical work, Birthday Variations.”
Theatre Ballet participated in an intensive screening to receive permission to perform Arpino’s work, including a test to determine whether the company had the requisite skill to properly perform Birthday Variations. The Department of Dance brought in Cameron Basden, who performed in the original cast of Birthday Variations when it premiered in 1986, to stage the ballet and coach the dancers.
“The BYU dancers are well trained and strong technically,” said Basden. “The BYU dancers enthusiastically and willingly took on this new way of moving. It is always more fulfilling when dancers are hungry to try new things and then can deliver.”
Brooke Lockhart is the female lead in Birthday Variations. She said the piece is very beautiful but challenging.
“Ballet is incredible because to us who are performing it feels so hard, but to the audience it is our job to make it look effortless,” Lockhart said. “It is such an amazing experience to be on the stage in front of a huge crowd that is excited to see you perform. There is nothing like that feeling! Dance is so worth all the pain, sweat, and tears that go into it.”
Another dancer, Bronwen Partridge, said the group has been practicing for this performance since September. Partridge said most of the dancers go through approximately 20 pairs of pointe shoes per year and spend at least 20 hours per week in technique classes or rehearsals.
“I will be performing in four numbers in the concert. My favorite is Tabula Rasa,” Partridge said. “There's a part I do in the second movement that I helped choreograph. Shayla created a fun collaborative process for us as she designed this work, and it's very rewarding to perform something that I had a part in creating.”
Bott said she feels the chance for the ballet dancers to perform Birthday Variations under the guidance of Basden is an indispensable stepping-stone for the dancers to move from students to professionals.
“Birthday Variations is a delightful gem of a ballet,” said Basden. “Classical in its appearance, it uses the Arpino style to showcase each of the six dancers in an accessible and festive fashion. Audience members don't have to work to ‘get’ the ballet, they can just enjoy the lovely movement and music.”
In addition to Birthday Variations, the dancers will perform an excerpt from the second act of La Sylphide, a new work composed by Bott titled Tabula Rasa, a classical modern piece by Seattle-based artist Eva Stone, a contemporary ballet work by Portland-based artist Christopher Peddecord and a dance film titled The So-Called Laws of Nature.