In the wake of several important happenings, including the meteoric rise of Misty Copeland, the first African-American to become a principal dancer at American Ballet Theater and cultural movements such as #MeToo, dance historians, teachers, choreographers, and students are asking important questions concerning the future of this 400 year old art form: mainly, what should a 21st century ballerina look like? Canyon Concert Ballet (CCB) is tackling this question head-on in their upcoming program, An Evening of Ballet and Chopin. The questioning comes in the form of what this 38 year-old local ballet company does best – dance.
CCB’s spring production, at the Lincoln Center April 27th and 28th, opens with Michel Fokine’s 1908 masterpiece Les Sylphides, a one-act, plotless work choreographed in the quintessential Romantic era style akin to Giselle and populated by beautiful, ethereal other-worldly female dancers. CCB’s second act is a presentation of the world premiere of CCB’s Artistic Director, Alicia Laumann’s new work, Études. Using Les Sylphides as a foil, Laumann attempts to create a ballet blanc (a white ballet typical of the Romantic era) appropriate for this generation of female dancers.
With nine selections from Romantic era giant Frédéric Chopin, Études “riffs” off of the standard corps de ballet ideas of symmetry, synchronicity, and ethereality, purposely looking for opportunities to disrupt these established conventions of the ballet blanc. Laumann asks: “What does a corp de ballet look like where the dancers are uniquely themselves and are given some agency to be human on stage: to see one another, to talk, to share, to laugh…and to dance together?”
Not wishing to completely eschew the beauty and the ability of the traditional ballet blanc to transport viewers from our sometimes arduous realties to these imaginary places, Laumann harkens back to these ballets with choreographic nods to classics such as Swan Lake and La Bayadére, while allowing the dancers’ unique movement styles to shine through rather than being subjugated to the whole. Using 23 dancers who vary in age, gender, height, and personality, Études hopes to celebrate the wonderful diversity of humans through dance.
Alicia Laumann says, “Les Sylphides is a gem, a ‘nugget’ of classical ballet perfection. Fokine’s delicate gestures, sublime musicality and effortless virtuosity – all accompanied to Chopin’s most beloved pieces – make it a work that will and should be performed into perpetuity. It is its perfection that allows choreographers of today, like myself, to ask ‘What is our legacy? How do we want ballerinas of today to be remembered?’ Études is a beginning for me of using my choreography to ask these important questions – for my daughter and for my dancers.”
Don’t miss An Evening of Ballet and Chopin: Les Sylphides & Etudes!
Performance will be held at the Lincoln Center (417 W Magnolia St, Fort Collins, CO 80521) on the following dates:
Friday, April 27 at 7pm and Saturday, April 28 at 2pm and 7pm
Tickets Available on the Lincoln Center’s website or by calling their box office at 970-223-