As the music slows to a halt, a ballerina pauses in front of the rose-colored background where she raises her gaze to face the audience. Applause trickles in slowly while the spotlight from above fades into darkness.
The IU Ballet’s fall production “Dark Meets Light” premieres Oct. 11. Its theme delves into dances that convey a wide spectrum of sentiments from anguish to joy.
“It brings the audience on an emotional journey that lets them feel every possible feeling,” junior and dancer Andrew Rossi said.
The repertoire for “Dark Meets Light” consists of “Allegro Brillante,” choreographed by George Balanchine; “Dark Elegies,” choreographed by Antony Tudor; “Berceuse,” choreographed by Penny Saunders and “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes,” composed by Mark Morris. Each dance is performed alongside live music played by Jacobs School of Music students and the orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Larson.
The pieces portray a variety of classical and contemporary techniques. Rossi shared that “Allegro Brillante” allows the performance to begin with a very traditional introduction, while others follow a modern approach.
“The movement style is very different compared to what we would usually do in ballet technique,” Rossi said. “We present with more human characteristics rather than just trying to be showy.With Dark Elegies, a lot of the steps are specifically constructed for that ballet.”
The musical works performed with “Dark Elegies” are composed by Gustav Mahler. “Kindertotenlieder,” translated in English as “songs on the death of children,” is based upon a compilation of poems exploring the multi-faceted experience of grief.
“I really resonate with this piece because last year I experienced a lot of loss,” senior and dancer Claudia Rhett said. “I lost three different friends very suddenly, all very young, and that was extremely difficult.”
Rhett dances in the second song of “Dark Elegies,” following the footsteps of her colleague, Raffaella Stroik, who performed in the past with the IU Ballet. Stroik graduated in 2017 and joined the St. Louis Ballet Company. Rhett, along with other peers of the IU Ballet Department, mourns her loss after Stroik passed away last November.
“I thought that I had gotten past that and closed those wounds, but getting to work on this piece has kind of opened them back up again,” Rhett said. “It’s been for the better, and it’s helped me truly grieve in a healthy way.”
Rhett lastly explained that mixed repertoire programs such as “Dark Meets Light” allow for more interpretation.
“These ballets really allow the audience members to take them as they are but then apply them to their own life,” Rhett said. “They’re meant to show a certain emotion, and since they’re not story ballets, they don’t have a specific plot, and those emotions can really be taken however the audience member perceives them.”
Tickets for the event start at $10 for students and $15 for adults. There will be three performances between Oct. 11 and 12 in the Musical Arts Center.
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