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IU Ballet Theater opens new season with two world premieres

The Indiana University Ballet Theater will open its 2005-06 season Oct. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. in the Musical Arts Center. The performance will feature four striking pieces, highlighting the talents and artistry of the dancers and faculty in one of the country's leading programs. Scheduled are two pas de deux, both significant in the development of contemporary ballet, and two world premieres.

The world premiere of a new work by visiting faculty member Glenda Lucena, Winds from the South, will commence the evening. Using over 25 dancers, clean neo-classical movements are combined with the popular piano waltzes of the late Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona to create a party scene.

Lucena describes her choice of music as "very personal; it is in the style with which I most identify." Regarding the work's conception, she had a very fluid approach. "Early in the creation of the piece, I did not have a story concept; I simply reacted to the music. Then, during the choreographic process, I cultivated a plot from the qualities and personalities of the dancers. The overall motif is that of a grand party where two sisters interact with each other and their peers. One sister feels protective of her sibling and frustrated that she does not appreciate the consequences that may arise from her friends' negative influences. The other sister, though grateful of her sibling's concern, seeks to find her own way. Of course, you will have to attend the performance to discover the outcome."

The evening will continue with two demanding pieces that all dancers strive to perform, seeking their balance of strength, beauty, and artistry, Grand Pas Classique and Spring Waters. These two pas de deux hold an intrinsic place within the classical ballet repertoire, being regularly performed by leading ballet companies around the world.

An interesting duo, both works were created by choreographers of direct Russian descent and premiered in 1949, yet are worlds apart in style and emotion. Grand Pas Classique, choreographed by Victor Gsovsky and staged by Glenda Lucena, was debuted by the innovative Ballet des Champs-Elysees (Paris).

Gsovsky, an important pedagogue of ballet, created a work admired for its pure classical lines and ominous elegance. It maintains its place in the classical ballet repertoire by demanding technical and artistic refinement while exemplifying the ballet ideal of simplistic beauty.

The spectacular Spring Waters, choreographed by Asaf Messerer, esteemed choreographer of the Bolshoi Ballet, and staged by visiting faculty member Guoping Wang, is an exhilarating piece featuring bravura lifts seamlessly interwoven with technical requirements of the Russian performance style. This stunning work never fails to garner a huge response from the audience.

Not content with presenting just one world premiere, the IU Ballet Theater ends this exceptional evening with yet another, The Final Pointe, a new work created by Wang with faculty member Doricha Sales.

This piece, intended to evoke the experience of a dancer's final performance, uses sections from Brahms' Trio in C Major and Schumann's Trio in D Minor. Paired with the intensely expressive music, the audience glimpses the dancer's preparation, poignantly lacing her pointe shoe. When she pushes aside the rear curtain, she is enveloped by the company. "All the other dancers are enjoying this last moment for her," says Wang.

In the pas de trois, the girl dances with two boys whom she loves, with whom she has had a lengthy history. In the touching farewell, according to Wang, "This is the last moment for her, with the lights on her pointe shoe… Maybe she is retiring. For her life, this is the last day."

The IU Ballet Theater is considered one of the world's premier dance programs with approximately ninety percent of alumni becoming professional dancers, many with the world's foremost dance companies. Others excel as choreographers, teachers, critics, administrators, and advocates of the arts.

Tickets are available at $12 to $20 for the general public and $8 to $16 for students. They may be purchased at the Musical Arts Center Box Office (Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) or by phone through TicketMaster (812-333-9955).