Neoclassical ballet

Oklahoma Festival Ballet to Perform COVID-Safe Mixed Repertoire Show | Culture

Oklahoma Festival Ballet will premiere this year’s performance featuring choreography by Gerald Arpino, guest choreographer Mariana Oliveira and faculty members from the OU School of Dance on April 8.

The Oklahoma Festival Ballet, the School of Dance’s ballet company in residence, will give students the opportunity to perform a COVID-safe performance, complete with socially distanced choreography, masks, and a new casting process.

In previous years, Oklahoma Festival Ballet has presented full ballets, but this year’s show will feature a mixed repertoire including Arpino’s “Reflections” and “Viva Vivaldi”, “So Near, Yet So Far” by Oliveira and works by the Dean of the Weitzenhoffer. College of Fine Arts Mary Margaret Holt, artistic director of Oklahoma Festival Ballet Boyko Dossev and director of the Michael Bearden School of Dance.

“We have what we call a mixed repertoire performance, which means there are six separate ballets in the program, which gives our audience a really nice variety of viewing, but it also gives our students the opportunity to play a number of different styles – to play in a classical style, a contemporary style, or a style specific to this ballet,” Holt said.

Students at the School of Dance have the option of specializing in ballet, ballet pedagogy or modern dance. Depending on a student’s major, they must participate in either Oklahoma Festival Ballet or Contemporary Dance Oklahoma, the company in residence for modern majors.

Students should audition for companies to develop a sense of high standards, Holt said.

“(Companies are) kind of like our lab in a way where our students can practice the expressive skills and techniques they work on in class every day,” Holt said.

Isaac Hileman, head of ballet performance, said Oklahoma Festival Ballet used to hold big auditions for casting and acceptance into the company, but this year, due to the pandemic, the casting process was delayed. more “automatic” and determined by the technical class level of each student. This means that most plays feature dancers of only one level, whereas in the past, students of different levels could perform in one dance.

Holt said it’s been a challenge for students and choreographers to create dances for students who are on the same level but don’t necessarily have the same movement qualities. However, she said the students rose to the occasion.

“I don’t think it’s an unreasonable challenge,” Holt said. “I think it helps some dancers develop their natural abilities. Most of the time, dancers have a specific way they feel most comfortable moving in, whether it’s a big classical style or a very sharp contemporary style, but in this case, they needed to figure it out. stretch… they really did.

Hileman described “Reflections” as “structured ballet” in the neoclassical style and said the theme of reflection can be seen throughout the dance. “So Near, Yet So Far” is contemporary and features more rounded movements and forms than traditional ballet, Hileman said.

Jodie Cone, a freshman in ballet performance, said “Viva Vivaldi” takes a bold approach to classical ballet. Cone said “Bolero,” in which she will perform, will be entertaining to watch and listen to. The room features music considered bold for its time, but Cone said the Oklahoma Festival Ballet brings a current and personal feel to the nearly 100-year-old dance.

“I think for our piece, we’re really trying to embrace that feeling of…being locked down because of COVID and then breaking free and being free because we’re finally going to dance on stage,” Cone said.

COVID-19 has had negative effects on the performing arts as many productions have been shut down to follow COVID guidelinesand Hileman and Cone said the OFB dancers were excited to perform again.

“I’m thrilled (to be able to) share … our hard work, effort and artistry that we put into it,” Hileman said. “It’s been a strange year for the arts, and so it’s really exciting, especially now that a lot of things are still closed, especially the performing arts. It’s just amazing that we’re in the theater playing.

The show will take place at 8 p.m. April 8-10 and 3 p.m. April 11 at the Elsie C. Brackett Theater. Tickets can be purchased in line and and video on demand of the show will be available from April 16 to June 4.