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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Milwaukee Ballet's Season Finale

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  Eclecticism will be emphasized at the season finale of the Milwaukee Ballet, according to Artistic Director Michael Pink. "We try to showcase a number of different styles,” he says. “My aim throughout the year is to find a balance between audience expectations, what everyone is used to and would like to see, and the production of challenging, fresh material."

  The mixed repertory program that ends the season will feature three vastly different pieces, each with a different emotional pitch, to ensure that all in attendance will be able to connect with something they see on stage.

  “The Kingdom of Shades” from La Bayadere is at the heart of the first section. Marius Petipa's long-celebrated tale has often been reinterpreted as part of mixed ballet programs. The classical dance in the piece will appeal to fans of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which the company performed earlier in the season. In this story, a temple dancer attempts to win the love of a warrior in ancient India. “The Kingdom of Shades,”the most dramatic and emotionally resonant piece of the three, aims not to challenge the audience, but to ingratiate, with a beautiful, traditional style of story ballet.

  The second section features legendary choreographer Anthony Tudor’s Offenbach in the Underworld, a wondrous and flighty sendup of one evening's worth of random interaction at a Parisian cafe. The flirtatious interactions between the patrons are explored in this section and the noncommittal nature of the interactions is captured through the humorous, engaging dances, including the "can-can." No resolution is found in this section because there is no conflict, only snapshots of a fanciful and vibrant night life.

  The final portion of the evening’s performance is Aubade, a premiere choreographed by Pink. Inspired by the music of Francis Poulenc, the section captures the essence of devoted lovers dealing with the reality of separating at dawn. The word “aubade” itself means a song or composition evoking daybreak. The piece features a more contemporary feel than the other two sections and strives to blend the dramatic tension of a forced separation with the natural beauty of a new beginning.

  Pink says that the narrative of his piece focuses on the separation of undefined companions losing each other as a new day begins. “As soon as the sun is up, it’s time for the men to go,” he explains. “It isn’t clear where they are going, or even who the men are—soldiers, prisoners, whatever—there isn’t a real solid definition of their character, but the idea of devotion being torn apart is at the heart of it all.”

  The production runs May 15-18 at MarcusCenter for the Performing Arts.