Originally choreographed productions to open OU School of Dance's holiday season
Ricardo Patino, The Oklahoma Daily
The OU School of Dance enters the holiday season with the ballet spectacle “Valse Fantaisie” and “Cinderella.” Both shows contain original choreography crafted by School of Dance teachers and outside sources. While both shows are part of 2012 Oklahoma Festival Ballet, “Cinderella” sweeps the stage as the featured ballet consisting of two acts.
Mary-Margaret Holt serves as the artistic director of the show and Director of the OU School of Dance. Holt has been part of the School of Dance since 1980 and has directed many different Oklahoma Festival Ballet productions.
There are many different facets to the decision-making process of deciding the shows for the holiday season, Holt said.
“Several factors go into our program selection,” sahd said. “The first is our students’ experience as dance majors. It’s important that they perform in a variety of styles to prepare for the profession and that their capabilities are challenged by the choreography so they grow artistically through style and technique as pre-professionals.”
Both “Valse Fantaisie” and “Cinderella” feature pointe an extensive amount of pointe ballet. The challenge that Holt describes for “Fantaisie” (choreographed by George Balanchine) is not only that the dancing is so quick and so precise, but also that there really aren’t breaking points throughout the ten minute piece.
Steve Brule also helped choreograph “Cinderella.” Holt said having another choreographer contribute to the performance helped the dancers in their execution of the work.
“It was important to give the dancers the opportunity to perform work by another choreographer,” she said. “George Balanchine is widely considered the foremost choreographer of the 20th century. We are honored to present his work.”
The “Cinderella” rehearsal presented a great deal of detail to character. Nicole Reehorst is one of two dancers cast as the main character. Before she danced off into the ball, the sophomore dance major explained the dramatic shift in the character’s role.
“You go from being a poor servant girl in the kitchen to being a glamorous princess-like figure dancing at the ball,” she said. “With that, the role requires a wide range of expression and personality. Cinderella is challenging both in the dancing aspects and in portraying this character with all her depth and emotional range.”
Despite the difficulty, Nicole said she loves the experience.
“It’s such a cool and exciting opportunity to perform this role in such a spectacle of a ballet,” she said.
Not only has the choreography been intense, but the scenic elements of “Cinderella” have proved to be quite the challenge for the University Theatre technicians and designers as well.
The real scenic work lies in “Cinderella, as “Valse Fantaisie” does not contain a physical set. “Cinderella’s” tale traverses from the large living area of Cinderella and her step family’s dwelling to the forest glade, and eventually, the palace ballroom.
Courtney Finck, School of Drama freshman, is the show’s scenic designer and is making her design debut with “Cinderella.”
Her design consists primarily of the kitchen scene. Included are small features such as a stair case, and armoire, and a table.
“Anything set-wise that was in the kitchen, I was consulted to eventually design,” Finck said. “The fireplace was my main focus, so when they said they wanted ‘big,’ I went big. They also said they wanted it to magically open to reveal a character in the show. For that, I went through and talked to the directors and other different designers to see what they were envisioning and to see if I could mesh their ideas into my own concept.”
The work and collaboration that goes into the production of such a grand ballet was truly astonishing to witness. “Valse Fantaisie” and “Cinderella” are certainly not to be missed, as they show the teamwork and true talent of many diverse groups of people within the Fine Arts here at OU. Bippity Boppity Boo, ya’ll.