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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring Ballet Mix

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TheMilwaukee Ballet will ring in April with a mixed repertory program as part of its annual “Milwaukee Ballet at the Pabst” series. Consisting of three movements from a trio of young, vibrant, talented choreographers, each section of the 90minute program will feature a different thematic purpose with each commissioned to showcase his or her unique vision.

After capturing first prize at the 2nd Genesis International Choreographic Competition held by Milwaukee Ballet in 2007, French-born choreographer Nelly van Bommel has been asked to create another work for the company. “The piece is loosely based on the history of nomadic people or what people more commonly refer to as Gypsies,” she explains. “It is mostly the music that inspired me and aspects of their unique culture, like the family structures and the relationships between men and women amidst living in such a distinct situation.”
Gypsy-influenced tunes from Romania, Macedonia and Kosovo are the glue holding the piece together. Different tracks jump around erratically, instilling a sense of uncertainty in the audience to mirror the lifestyle of a nomadic person.

A major challenge for van Bommel was maintaining the sense of traveling from place to place. “The work that I’m doing now is very abstract as a result of trying to present these characters without necessarily a narrative, so really it’s a collection of scenes meant to capture the essence of traveling from one distinct location to another as a Gypsy might,” she says.

Formerly a member of the venerable Twyla Tharp’s dance company as well as a protg of late luminary Bessie Schnberg, Jessica Lang has created a number of acclaimed works in her decade-long career as a choreographer.

For her most recent work, Lang has created an ethereal, spiritual piece with substantial religious undertones that explores the relationship between faith and humanity. The piece revolves around a central male figure due to Lang’s imagination sparked after witnessing the skill of company dancer Marc Petrocci.

Like van Bommel’s piece, Lang has found great inspiration in the music she chose for the piece. Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki’s Beatus Vir makes up the core of the musical accompaniment. “It all came together when I chose that song. It speaks to the beatification of man and his ascension to heaven, as well as the people who are left praying in his name. It is a very dramatic tale and features a heavier theme than much of the work I have done, but the company has taken to it and everything has molded together very beautifully.” The other premiere work of the evening is a new piece from Milwaukee Ballet company member Petr Zahradncek that promises to be a lighter affair than the other movements.

Less theatrical and dramatic in his work than the other choreographers, Zahradncek is no stranger to the role of choreographer within the company. A member of the Milwaukee Ballet since 2002, he has created several pieces including As Always, a piece from the 2005 installment of Milwaukee Ballet at the Pabst.

The production runs April 3-6 at the Pabst Theater.
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