River Region Ballet’s spring concert salutes ‘Ballet Russes’

Staff Report
March 05, 2009 at 8:45 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

HONORING ‘BALLET RUSSES.’ The River Region Ballet plans to salute this 100th anniversary of Serge Diaghilev’s “Ballet Russes” by presenting “La Boutique Fantasque” as part of their spring concert on Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 15 at
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HONORING ‘BALLET RUSSES.’ The River Region Ballet plans to salute this 100th anniversary of Serge Diaghilev’s “Ballet Russes” by presenting “La Boutique Fantasque” as part of their spring concert on Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 15 at
Exhibitions and performances are planned throughout the United States through next May to mark the hundredth year since Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes stunned Paris and changed the course of Western culture by revealing the richness of Russian dance, music, and visual art.

The River Region Ballet plans to salute this 100th anniversary by presenting La Boutique Fantasque as part of their Spring Concert on Saturday March 14 at 7:30 pm and Sunday March 15 at 2:00 pm.

Both performances will be at Destrehan High School Auditorium, #1 Wildcat Lane in Destrehan. Tickets are $15 and may be ordered by calling 504-202-7706 or purchased at the door.

Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes had a monumental impact on ballet. Their productions were the culmination of collaborative efforts of major artists in the early 20th century.

Diaghilev discovered and nurtured significant new talents in all the arts. He persuaded eminent painters, composers, designers and choreographers to work with the Ballet Russes. Stravinsky and Prokofiev produced scores, while Bakst, Picasso, Matisse, Coco Chanel, and Derain contributed designs and choreographers such as Fokine, Nijinksy, Massine, Nijinska, and Balanchine created the ballets.

One of these geniuses, Leonide Massine, developed a new vein, the comedy of manners, in his choreography with such works as La Boutique Fantasque. Since its inception, La Boutique Fantasque has been a favorite of audiences with its lifelike dolls from various nations.

The reason is not hard to find, for the ballet is replete with good humor, joy, and happiness and it pleases both the serious devotee of dancing and the seeker of amusement.

La Boutique Fantasque was first produced in London in 1919. It was based on an old German ballet. However only the original theme was retained.

The new ballet differed in every other aspect. With music by Giacomo Rossini, orchestrated and arranged by Ottorino Respighi, choreography by Leonide Massine, and costumes by André Durain, the ballet was a complete success.

The River Region Ballet contracted Valerie Smith Concha to choreograph the ballet on their company dancers. Ms. Concha learned the ballet directly from the original choreographer, Leonide Massine, while dancing as a soloist with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and the Slavinska-Franklin Ballet. RRB feels extremely fortunate to have this direct connection to this historic ballet.

La Boutique Fantasque is set in a Paris Doll Shop, circa 1865. A shopkeeper and his assistant are preparing for the day’s activities when they discover a young thief trying to steal gold braid off a doll’s costume. Exhausted from the altercation with the thief, they greet their first customers of the day, a pair of English Ladies.

An American couple and their children enter, joining their English friends to witness the display of lifelike dolls offered in the boutique. Tarantella dolls from Italy and elaborate dolls dressed as Court Cards dance. Impressed by these mechanical marvels the customers want to see more before they make a purchase. Meanwhile a Russian aristocrat and his family arrive. Not willing to socialize with Russians, the English ladies depart in a huff.

Next the shopkeeper brings out a trio of French poodles. The parents are not pleased with the dogs’ demeanor and cover the children’s eyes. The children unable to control their excitement run and dance around the shop. Behind a curtain they discover two new dolls, a Russian Cossack officer and maiden.

The assistant winds up these dolls to dance, followed by an entire corps of Ballerina dolls. The customers are still not ready to make a purchase. The shopkeeper hesitantly agrees to bring out his masterpiece, a pair of Can-Can dolls.

Wild with excitement the American and Russian families both want to purchase these dolls.

The shopkeeper, sad to part with these dolls, exacts a high price, which is met by both parties. They all retire to the back to finalize the sale. The Can-Can lovers can’t believe they’re being separated and are saddened. The shopkeeper boxes the dolls for delivery the next morning and closes the shop for the night. The dolls’ hour arrives. All the dolls commiserate over the lovers’ separation. They try to devise a way to save them. Finally freed from the boxes by their friends, the lovers dance happily and make their escape. The next morning all arrive to collect their packages only to find the boxes empty. In the ensuing havoc the dolls come to their maker’s rescue, banishing the would be owners and happy to still be in “magic doll shop”.

The River Region Ballet has assembled a wonderful cast including guest artists Eleanor and Ian Carney as the Can-Can Dancers in La Boutique Fantasque. The Carney’s will also perform a new pas de deux For Your Love.

Anyone who has had the pleasure to witness this duo performing can attest not only to their talent as dancers but the tangible charisma they bring to their performances. New to RRB’s stage, but not to dance in New Orleans, is Chase Zibilich in the role of the Shopkeeper. Mr. Zibilich is an experienced dancer, teacher, and costume designer.

Robert Jumonville will dance the role of the Russian Officer. Both dancers have performed extensively throughout the New Orleans area. Company Dancers performing in both La Boutique Fantasque and an original piece, Reverence, by artistic director Susan Ferrara are: Taylor Amedee, Kiersten Baker, Courtney Bergeron, Molly Nagele, Shannon Nagele, Stephanie Nagele, Reneé Navarre, Ekuase Ogunbor, Noelle Raymond, Jolie St. Pierre, and Allie Wursteisen. Junior Company dancers performing are: Madison Cancienne, Mary Frances Candies, Emily Champagne, Rachael Cicero, Sarah DiLeo, Mia Dufresne, Colette Duplantier, Elizabeth Gilmore, Madeleine Raymond, and Laura Sullivan. Veteran RRB performers are: Anne Comiskey, Brian Comiskey, Aimeé Ecuyer, Richard Ecuyer, Karen Graci, Evan Keller, Matthew Lewis, Haley Morgan, Jeff and Karen Nagele, Debbie Navarre, Paul Ory, Paul Sullivan, and Kara Tucker.

For additional information you can contact the River Region Ballet at 985-764-7678 or riverregionballet@cox.net or www.rrpa.org. For tickets call 504-202-7706. This program is sponsored in part by: United Way of St. Charles; the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by the Houma Regional Arts Council; and the River Region Arts and Humanities Council.

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