This week opens the 2012-2013 season for the Tulsa Ballet. Kicking things off with a superb trilogy that has something for everybody.
"The first piece, PreSentient by Wayne McGregor, is going to push the boundaries of what we consider to be dance today," Marcello Angelini said in his role as TBT's artistic director. "Slice to Sharp is pushing the boundaries of what is technically and physically possible for a classical ballet dancer to do, and Age of Innocence is a piece that's going to leave everybody totally stunned with its beauty and its complexity and its multiple textures."
Literally, then, there's something for everyone. You've got the modern, to-hell-with-tradition piece, you've got a piece that is physically badass, and you've got a beautiful piece at the end. And the people creating these dances are no slouches, either.
"All the choreographers are three huge shots, really," Angelini said. "We call this caliber of choreographers -- Edwaard Liang, Wayne McGregor, Jorma Elo -- the people who are sitting on the Olympus of dance -- sort of the top 10 or 20 choreographers in the world."
As if to prove his point of how awesome the three choreographers of the dances comprising Age of Innocence, he rattles off names of companies with which these three have worked.
"These three choreographers are really, really huge," he said. "They spend most of their careers choreographing for companies like the Royal Ballet in London, the Paris Opera in Paris, which is the largest company in the world, the Bolshoi Moscow, the Boston Ballet, San Francisco, all of the tier one ballet companies in the world, so it's great to have them here in Tulsa."
PreSentient is a primal piece, and Angelini said that choreographer McGregor was looking to shake things up.
"McGregor is the choreographer who is pushing the boundaries of what we consider to be contained within the boundaries of 'the box,'" Angelini said. "We say to think outside the box, but we're all boxed in. Wayne is the one who is extending the box for everybody in the world."
The technically difficult piece of the evening, "Slice to Sharp," comes from Jorma Elo, who has also choreographed for pretty much every major ballet in the world.
"Slice to Sharp was created for the New York City Ballet -- specifically for eight stars of the New York City Ballet," Angelini said. "New York City Ballet is the largest American ballet company, and one of the top ballet companies in the world. It's just an incredible piece. When we talk about pushing boundaries, 'Slice to Sharp' pushes the technical capabilities of every single dancer in the cast. It stretches them well beyond what we think is possible."
Then there's the piece that is admittedly Anglini's favorite.
"'Age of Innocence' is what I call the triple chocolate velvet cake of the evening," he said. "It's a piece that is so rich, so multi-textured, so emotionally and aesthetically fulfilling. It's one of my all-time favorite pieces.
I mean, the piece is stunningly beautiful. It's one of those pieces you could watch 100 times and every time find something new in it."
Catch your first viewing of it September 14, 15, or 16. Tickets and more information can be found at tulsaballet.org or by calling 918-749-6006.
The Music of Stephen Sondheim
This weekend, Tulsa's Signature Symphony brings to town the music of a Broadway legend.
With The Music of Stephen Sondheim, SS will remind us all that while some love him, and some loathe him, nobody can say that Sondheim isn't a master of what he does, according to G. Barry Epperly, SS's conductor and artistic director.
"My feeling is that Sondheim was and is the finest Broadway composer of the second half of the last century," he said. "Maybe he didn't have quite the run of Phantom of the Opera or Cats had, because you have to think to listen to his music. Not everybody who goes to a Broadway show wants to think."
"The songs he did with other composers was just kind of marvelous," Epperly said, preparing for a history lesson. "He [wrote the lyrics for] West Side Story kind of late. When I was teaching Bernstein a few years ago, I learned that Sondheim saved that show, because [composer Leonard] Bernstien had written the lyrics himself, and they were awful."
Well, you learn something new every day. Today's lesson is that there was actually something that Leonard Bernstein didn't do well. Good to know!
So he's put together a show featuring the music and lyrics from more than ten Sondheim shows, and he's pretty excited about it. Considering Epperly's perception of his last experience with bringing Sondheim's music to Tulsa, he's hoping for some redemption.
"We did a concert about 20 years ago that Sondheim himself put together," Epperly said. "It was some of his favorite stuff. This was with orchestra, but it wasn't really well-received. I had people leave at intermission, and I wanted to collar them and say, 'What are you doing? This is the best there is!' But his stuff is sometimes hard for people to understand. Some of his music is so lyric-centric that finding the thought and emotion in them can be difficult."
This time, though, Epperly seems certain that his love of Sondheim will spill over to the audience.
Let the music do that for you this weekend. The Music of Stephen Sondheim is part of the Signature Symphony's TTCU Signature Pops Series and will play at TCC's VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education on September 14 and 15. Curtain is at 8pm, and tickets can be had at 918-595-7777.
"Mochas with the Musicologist"
Saturday at the Double Shot Coffee Company, Chamber Music Tulsa (CMT) presents "Mochas with the Musicologist."
As part of CMT's ongoing efforts to educate audience members on everything from the history of the music they hear to concert etiquette, this talk will both serve as a preview for the first half of CMT's coming season, as well as function as a Q&A, allowing CMT audience members to get answered any musical questions that may have been pestering them. Bruce Sorrell, executive director of CMT, said that the speaker for "Mochas with the Musicologist" is quite knowledgeable.
"Our musicologist is Jason Heilman, who does our pre-concert talks and he knows lots and is able to communicate it well," Sorrell said.
This is but the latest in a series of audience education offerings that Sorrell and CMT has been serving up of late, and should continue.
"We're making a real effort at audience education," he said. "We've been doing pre-concert talks, and this is an expansion of that. We're also going to do three concert rewinds this season after the concerts so people can come to the Rooftop bar at the Mayo and mingle with the musicians and talk about what they've heard."
Anything involving music in a bar will require a closer look from someone here at UTW. Here's hoping it's me.
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