BIRMINGHAM, Alabama It s not often that you see cattle roping and horseback riding on the dance floor, but those are some of the activities that inspired choreographer to set Rodeo, one of two works on s program on April 11-13 at .
Of course, the cows and horses won t actually be on stage, so viewers will have to use a bit of imagination, but there be plenty of dancers.
One of two cowboy ballet scores by American composer (the other is Billy the Kid ), Rodeo depicts the affections of a cowgirl for a wrangler, who, in turn, is taken with the rancher s daughter.
The ballet unfolds in several movements, the more familiar being Buckaroo Holiday, Corral Nocturne, and Hoe-Down. The character of the cowgirl is based on de Mille herself, who debuted the role in 1942 with and received 22 curtain calls. Although de Mille was not entirely pleased with the performance, a Broadway team by the name of Rodgers and Hammerstein was, and commissioned de Mille to choreograph Oklahoma! after seeing the ballet.DETAILSWhat:Alabama Ballet: Ovation. "Rodeo," "Kingdom of the Shades," from La Bayad re.When:Friday, April 11, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 12, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 13, 2:30 p.m.Tickets: -. .Where: Dorothy Jemison Day Theater, Alabama School of Fine Arts, 1800 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd.Artistic Director considers Rodeo an American classic one that almost didn t happen.
When Copland was asked to compose something for the ballet, he was against it, Alvey said. They begged him and he finally agreed. With Copland and de Mille, you have a classic on so many levels.
Parts of the score have entered American pop culture, including Hoe-Down in the advertising campaign, Beef; it s what s for dinner, and arrangements by Emerson, Lake and Palmer and B la Fleck and the Flecktones.
The cowgirl role will be shared by Elizabeth Gamble and Olivia Powell.
They re both really great in the role, Alvey said. Elizabeth actually looks a little like the cowgirl in Toy Story 2, and Olivia is adorable.
De Mille, of course, had some thoughts on the matter.
She acts like a boy, not to be a boy, but to be liked by the boys, she once explained.
The male principal roles will be shared by Alexander Forck, Noah Hart and David Odenwelder as the Roper; and Max van der Sterre and Michael Fothergill as the wrangler.
KINGDOM OF THE SHADES
Retreating in time a few decades, the company performs one of the most celebrated and demanding excerpts from classical ballet. Kingdom of the Shades, a scene from , is Marius Petipa s setting of Ludwig Minkus music, first performed in 1877. This test of the corps de ballet demands precision and stamina, and can be a dazzling sequence.
Although it can be performed with 24 or 12 dancers, Alvey has opted for the middle ground of 18. In any case, it must be done in multiples of 6. The first dancer repeats the same phrase 38 times, the second dancer 37 times, and so on, until each reaches the stage following a serpentine path and arrives in three parallel lines. Solos and pas de deux follow, the entire beginning sequence taking eight minutes.
So who is the lucky dancer who gets to start the sequence? Alvey chose apprentice .
When we started rehearsals, I gave her a big hug and said, I m so sorry. It s because she s the smallest lady. You have to start with the smallest.
The pure classicism contrasts sharply with the rowdiness of Rodeo.
It s so impressive, and it's visually so stunning, Alvey said. It s a good balance. Kingdom of the Shades is just so classical and pure. And then you have this party going on with Rodeo.