Terpsichore Dance Academy Presents 'Graduation Ball'
A lighthearted classical ballet danced to music by Johann Strauss has been chosen as the centerpiece of the spring performance by Terpsichore, the Southern Pines dance academy.
Choreographed by David Lichine for the original Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, "Graduation Ball" was first performed in Australia during the company's 1940 tour. This 20th century delight, combined with a contemporary second act production called "Colours in Motion," is being presented by more than 100 dancers from Terpsichore during performances at Owens Auditorium at Sandhills Community College this weekend.
Kellye Parks, director of Terpsichore, says she chose "Graduation Ball" because it showcases numerous dancers.
"The choice was made a little bit difficult since it is now rarely performed by major companies, and we weren't able to find a video to refer to," she says.
"Although a few studios have done the ballet and have put portions of their performances on YouTube, we couldn't find any video version in its entirety."
Maggie Lloyd, a member of the teaching faculty at Terpsichore who worked on the choreography with Kellye Parks, believes the selection of "Graduation Ball" was very helpful to the dancers.
"The ballet gives them a chance to work together as a principal corps, rather than focusing on one prima ballerina, leaving only minor roles for other dancers," Lloyd says.
She also mentions that while they were preparing their students for the performance, she learned that "Graduation Ball" has been done by several schools attached to major companies.
"It is very appropriate as a 'graduation' ballet," she says.
The music for "Graduation Ball" was arranged by Hungarian-born musician and conductor Antal Dorati who selected obscure pieces of Johann Strauss II. He did, however, include two or three of the composer's more familiar works, such as the "Acceleration Waltz."
The scene is a girls' boarding school in 1840s Austria. A graduation ball is in the offing, to which have been invited cadets from a nearby military academy.
In the Terpsichore version, the head cadet is danced by guest artist, Serguei Chtyrkov, who with his wife, Joulia Moisseeva, created the choreography for a "Pas de Cinque," in which Chtyrkov partners with seniors Ashley Absher, Meghan Osborne, Emily Smith and junior Blair Puleo.
Chtyrkov has been a regular guest artist for Terpsichore's Christmas and spring programs for the last several years.
A graduate of the Moscow Ballet Academy in Russia, his career has included principal roles with the Kremlin Ballet and The Kinetic Theatre in Moscow, where he received an award for outstanding performance.
As a principal dancer and soloist, he has performed with the Columbia City Ballet in South Carolina and as a guest artist with ballet companies throughout the Southeast.
Joulia Moisseeva has had a distinguished career with the Moscow Festival Ballet, the Kremlin Ballet Company and the Modern Theatre in the Czech Republic.
She has toured widely throughout Europe, China, Mexico, Taiwan and the United States, and has taught at several southeastern studios, including at the University of South Carolina.
Blair Puleo, who is a rising senior at O'Neal School in the fall, contrasts "Graduation Ball" to "The Nutcracker."
"They are totally different," says Puleo. "I've done 'Nutcracker' ever since I was 5 years old. But working with Serguei is always a challenge.
"The 'Pas de Cinque' is difficult choreography. However, it's rewarding to be partnered by someone of his incredible talent."
Departing from the original scenario of "Graduation Ball," Kellye Parks has added a variation for the nine girls dancing the senior roles in the Terpsichore production. She invited all nine of them to bring in a partner (most of them are their regular boyfriends) to appear as the cadets with whom they dance.
"I choreographed a particular piece for the nine couples," says Parks.
"I have the young men doing simple pirouettes and lifts with their partners, despite the fact that none of them have any classical ballet training. I was very pleased with the results. They were all so enthusiastic and had an 'I can do this' attitude."
Another addition to the original ballet is a charming father-and-daughter waltz, especially choreographed by Maggie Lloyd for the four Terpsichore graduating seniors and their fathers. The pairs who will be performing in this piece are Ashley and Scott Absher, Meghan and Wayne Osborne, Krystyna and Mark Goudy, and Emily and Chad Smith.
Ashley Absher and Megan Osborne, who are graduating this month, have both been taking dance lessons at Terpsichore for the last 14 years. They agree that it's sad to be leaving behind all those years of memories.
"It's going to be very strange not taking classes with the girls that I have been dancing with, for what seems like, 'forever,'" Absher says.
Osborne, who will be attending East Carolina University, is going to concentrate on her studies at first, but says, "I want to continue dancing, taking classes for the rest of my life, because it is a lot of fun, and a good way to stay in shape."
Absher too plans on taking class, as well as trying out for the dance team at University of North Carolina at Wilmington, while pursuing a degree in elementary education.
All of the graduating seniors take part in the second half of the Terpsichore spring program, turning from classical ballet to current styles of jazz and tap.
Carrying out the "Colours In Motion" theme, the numbers are danced to pop music like Elvis Presley's "Blue Suede Shoes," the Prince favorite "Raspberry Beret," and Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac."
The closing number of the show is a special dance choreographed to the song, "Where Are You Going?," for the four seniors by Terpsichore teacher Carmen Jones.
Joining Carmen Jones in creating the dances for the "Colours" segment and for the junior show held last weekend are fellow Terpsichore teachers, Leigh Blanton, Cyndy Clendenin, Cinnamon LeBlanc, Jaime McDuffie, Jeanne Williams and Danna Bullock.
Performances are being presented Saturday, June 6, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 7, at 2 p.m. at Owens Auditorium at Sandhills Community College. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens, students and children, and can be obtained by calling the studio (695-1116) or at the door.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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