Butler ballet students rehearse “Stardust,” choreographed by Cynthia Pratt. Student tickets for the event can be purchased for $7. Photo by Peter Larson.
MALACHI WHITE | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Every year Butler Ballet puts on their Midwinter Dance Festival. This year, they will be warming up the cold winter nights with the sizzling “Piazzola Caldera,” choreographed by legendary American choreographer, Paul Taylor. “Piazzola Caldera” is the centerpiece for the six alternating evenings of ballet and modern dance to be presented in two separate programs.
Paul Taylor’s dance company performed last Friday in Clowes Memorial Hall. He has choreographed 146 dances over a span of 60 years and is widely considered to be one of the main influences of American modern dance.
Taylor’s “Piazzolla Caldera” is a sensual exposé of tango as reinterpreted and reimagined with modern dance. Taylor honors the tradition of tango, preserving the essence of the form in his choreography.
Along with Taylor’s work, many of the Butler Ballet professors choreographed works for the festival.
With diverse choreography being showcased, sophomore dance pedagogy major Laura Theisen believes that anyone and everyone should come.
“It has something for everyone and it’s an eye-opening experience for people who don’t know that much about dance and want to see what the Butler dance program is about,” Theisen said.
Performing in Ruffo’s staged work of a classical ballet, Theisen benefited from being a part of a new experience in her second year.
“I have absolutely loved this year,” she said. “I am doing a classical piece that isn’t in our normal repertoire, so it’s a really great opportunity to be able to learn more of the classics.”
Two programs will have a different cast each night during the festival.
PROGRAM A will be on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 7:00 p.m., Friday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 17 at 2:00 p.m. It will feature the works of professors Stephan Laurent, Ramon Flowers and Marek Cholewa.
PROGRAM B is on Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 18 at 2:00 p.m. It will feature the works of professors Derek Reid and Cynthia Pratt, and classical ballet excerpt Grand Pas de Deux from La Bayadere staged by Rosanna Ruffo.
Amber Wickey is also a sophomore dance pedagogy major and is dancing in professor of dance Derek Reid’s piece, “Finding Wings.”
“Each piece is so unique that it’s impossible to get bored,” Wickey said. “There’s beautiful classical ballet, fierce contemporary and, of course, the featured piece ‘Piazzolla Caldera,’ which is a passionate tango.”
The music, composed by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky, shapes Taylor’s work into four distinct sections, a complex and electric landscape where dancers can sway and swivel through the arts of both tango and modern dance.
The piece has been performed by world famous companies, including the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.
“It is impossible not to become entranced by the intricate footwork and athletic feats that appear impossibly smooth,” Wickey said. “However, I’ve really enjoyed being in Professor Reid’s piece. His choreography is new to me and forces me to think about moving differently, but I’m learning a lot and the rehearsal process has been really rewarding.”
This year the dancers had one less week to prepare all the choreography for the programs due to having an extra week of winter break.
The pieces presented this year are very diverse in both choreography and music accompaniment. One piece includes music by the late David Bowie and is a tribute to him and his work. Butler Ballet will also present classical ballet new to their program.
For Joel Moren-Kensicki, a senior dance pedagogy major, his final experience doing Midwinter has left an impact on him, and he thinks it will impact those who come.
“Sometimes a classical ballet may not hold the attention of an everyday person and the stories, many feel, are difficult to follow without context, and since many of them are based on European folk tales,” Kensicki said. “Americans aren’t exposed to them making it a completely new story. Midwinter is nothing like that. All the pieces are shorter and are choreographed by different professors who each have their own unique vision and style.”
Kensicki is performing in both programs in professors Laurent and Ruffo’s pieces. The experience has been cathartic and rewarding, and he hopes that audiences will enjoy the selection of pieces prepared.
“For me personally, developing my own character and story for ‘Farewell’ [Stephan Laurent] was an awesome experience and finding what worked for me,” Kensicki said. “It has always been a dream of mine to perform ‘La Bayadère’ as it is one of my favorite ballets, and getting the chance to do that has been absolutely amazing. The greater diversity increases the likelihood of keeping the audience’s attention. Each show also ends with a bang that adds incredible value to the show itself.”
Standard tickets are $15, but student tickets are offered for $7, and the event will offer BCR credit.