World premiere of music and choreography for Midwinter Dances

Butler Ballet’s Midwinter Dances run from Feb. 5 through Feb. 9. Photo courtesy of Butler Arts Center.

KIRAN BRAR | STAFF REPORTER | kbrar@butler.edu

Each year, Butler Ballet produces Midwinter Dances, which is composed of classical ballet and contemporary dance. This year, there will be two separate programs presented with a featured piece, titled “Falling Sky,” that will appear in both shows. 

“Falling Sky” is a newly commissioned work choreographed by Patrick de Bana and composed by renown film composer Michael Abels. 

Abels is most known for composing the scores for Jordan Peele’s award-winning films “Get Out” and “Us.” 

De Bana served as a principal dancer in two prominent companies for over 10 years before creating his own company in 2003. Since then, de Bana has traveled and created pieces for companies across the world.

Josiah Lax, a sophomore dance pedagogy major involved in “Falling Sky,” valued the time he got to spend with the guest choreographer this year.

“I’ve loved working with the choreographer, Patrick de Bana,” Lax said. “He’s really incredible and experienced worldwide, so it’s great to gain his wisdom and hear about all of his experiences.”

Michael Colburn, professor of music and director of bands, requested Abels for a commissioned work with the theme of social justice in mind, which resulted in Abels basing the score for “Falling Sky” on the U.S.’s border crisis. 

“Since I’ve been here at Butler, it seems that [social justice] issues keep coming up and we need to talk about them to discuss ways that we can make a difference” Colburn said. “I thought, ‘What better way to use our art to help raise awareness of this cause.’” 

Ramón Flowers, assistant professor of dance, is the Ballet Master of “Falling Sky.” While Flowers did not create the choreography, he oversees and helps run rehearsals for the piece. He was chosen for this position because he previously trained and danced with de Bana. 

“We danced together, I know his style, we have similar backgrounds and we have the same training, so it’s almost like I’m the eyes to his thoughts,” Flowers said. 

Their similar backgrounds and style has allowed for de Bana and Flowers to work together closely in running rehearsals for the World Premiere of “Falling Sky.”

Along with the collaborative work between Abels and de Bana, Butler Ballet professors also choreographed pieces in the show. The stylistic diversity presented in the show ranges from conventional to contemporary.

“I like the opportunity to dance in a different way,” Lax said. “Our other programs are pretty strictly classical ballet, which I love from the bottom of my heart, but it’s cool to explore different movements and do something we aren’t quite used to.” 

Amy Whittemore, a sophomore dance arts administration major, is involved in a comedic piece by professor of dance Cynthia Pratt. 

“The piece is really interesting and fun,” Whittemore said. “I’m very excited to perform because we get to do a lot more contemporary works for Midwinter, which is a rare chance.”

Program A will occur on Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. Program B will occur on Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. 

Tickets can be purchased online. This show will also offer BCR credit for students.

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