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Jacobs School of Music Ballet Theater brings ‘Ainadamar’ to life through dance


“Ainadamar” is an opera unlike any other. The production eschews a traditional, strictly orchestral score for one that adopts electronic music and flamenco rhythm alongside a classical orchestra. The score creates stylized movement to tell the story of Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, utilizing dancers from the Jacobs School of Music Ballet Theater department to bring the opera to life. 

The dancers began their training under acclaimed choreographer Rosa Mercedes after returning from winter break. The early rehearsals involved breaking away from ballet movement and embracing a new style altogether. Trey Fredyn, an IU freshman, said he found ignoring his instincts initially challenging but not impossible. 

“In ballet we always have this pull up mentality in the way that we’re moving,” Ferdyn said. “Getting more loose has been a big thing for me.” 

The musical language of the opera is seen through its stylized movement and dance sequences — creating a unique visual for audiences to enjoy while also allowing the dancers to try something new in the flamenco medium. 

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“I really love to push myself in terms of movement and get myself out of my comfort zone,” Ferdyn said. “It’s an exciting way to be doing more than just ballet.” 

Sophia Long, an IU junior, said she used her past ballet experience to help make the adjustment into a completely different form of dance — going from taut limbs to the more fluid level of motion seen in flamenco. 

“I’m pulling a lot from Spanish in “Nutcracker,’” Long said. “There was a lot of stylistic stuff that’s very balletic that I’m using in this as well.” 

While the mediums of dance differ, little things like how the hands are to be held or the upright posture are familiar to both ballet and flamenco, allowing Long to embrace the passion required to dance the flamenco style. 

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“I dance the Mariana piece where this statue comes to life,” Long said. “It’s a very soft lyrical piece, but there’s still an intensity that has to be there as opposed to ballet.” 

The week of Jan. 23 saw the dancers combine their work with that of the performers to begin the final construction of “Ainadamar.” A notable aspect of the opera is its blending of performer and dancer to create a singular moving entity, Aram Hengen, an IU junior, said he saw the blending of the two methods as something incredibly different. 

“You want to match the chorus,” Hengen said, “They’re actors and incredibly theatrical, so you want to be able to live up to the part alongside them.” 

Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3-4 and Feb. 10-11 at the Musical Arts Center. Tickets are available through the Jacobs School of Music website.

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