Midwinter Dance Festival: Review


Butler Ballet presented the annual Midwinter Dance Festival last week at the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts. 

A group of dancers in gray rolled through a cloud of fog, imitating the rain. Girls in white shifted through intricate formations and circles, portraying the spokes of a wheel. A corps of ladies in pointe shoes and lace tutus sod de chatted and piqued around a stage. 

The festival was a collection of neo-classical, modern and contemporary pieces, choreographed by the professors of the Butler University’s dance department and performed by the students. 

The pieces were divided into two separate shows, Program A and Program B, to accommodate for time. 

Program A was performed on Wednesday and Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.  It involved two pieces choreographed by dance department faculty. 

The first piece was titled “Rainmakers,” which was choreographed by Cynthia Pratt, a professor of dance at Butler. 

The music, by Michael Gordon, incorporated the sounds of thunder while the dancers represented the movement of clouds and rain. 

The second piece, “Herzliche Romanzen,” was choreographed by professor Patrick Hinson. The piece incorporated live musicians playing “Piano Quintet in E-Flat Major, Op. 44.”    

Program B, which was performed Thursday and Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, incorporated three pieces by dance department professors.

“Truing the Wheel,” a world premiere, was the first piece performed in Program B.  It was choreographed by professor Susan McGuire and featured live music performed by Kate Boyd, an associate professor of piano. 

McGuire said the piece was inspired by two things: her love of Bach, and a book her husband had read about bike building and maintenance.

“It is analogous of what it means to choreograph,” McGuire said, comparing the journey of choreographing a piece to the process of manufacturing a wheel. 

The next piece performed was titled “Displacements,” choreographed by professor Marek Cholewa

Butler Ballet was chosen by the International Gala to perform a piece. “Displacements” was choreographed specially to perform at the International Gala in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, in November 2014. 

It was the only piece featured at the International Gala from the United States, Cholewa said.

The third piece, created by Stephan Laurent, was titled “Precipitate.”

This piece was also a world premiere and featured music titled “Time and Motion” by Frank Felice, a professor in the music department. 

Each show also featured a special performance of “Viva Vivaldi,” a Spanish-influenced piece by famous choreographer Gerald Arpino. 

The original version of this piece was performed by the Joffrey Ballet in 1965, according to rehearsal coach and professor Derek Reid

“It was really fun to be featured in ‘Viva Vivaldi,’” said freshman Matthew Griffin, one of the show’s performers. “It is a real piece that a real company performs all the time.” 

The final show also included a guest performance by the Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, a pre-professional ballet company. The ensemble performed a work by choreographer Gerald Arpino, titled “Birthday Variations,” to go along with the earlier performance of Arpino’s work.    

Production for the festival began at the start of the second semester.  Regardless of the time constraint, dancers and choreographers were able to put together a successful performance. 

“It was lovely to be able to work on a different level with everyone,” said Lydia Gentry, a Butler Ballet dancer. “It brought the entire company together.”