March 17, 2016
DALLAS (SMU) – The world premiere of a new interpretation of Stravinsky’s The Firebird by noted choreographers Claudia Lavista and Victor Manuel Ruiz, artistic directors of Delfos Danza Contemporanea in Mazatlán, Mexico, highlights the Spring Dance Concert at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, March 31-April 3.
The Meadows Dance Ensemble also will present Martha Graham’s 1944 masterpiece Appalachian Spring, set to Aaron Copland’s original score, and Tschaikovsky’s Pas de Deux by George Balanchine.
The concert opens with Appalachian Spring, one of Martha Graham’s signature works. Written at the end of World War II, it is a depiction of Americana. The story tells of a spring celebration set in 19th-century Pennsylvania as a young bride arrives in her new home. Graham commissioned the score from Aaron Copland in 1944; it was written for a small, 13-piece orchestra to accommodate the space restrictions of its theatre in the Library of Congress. The following year Copland shortened and revised the score, adapting it for a full orchestra, and that version won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945. The Martha Graham Company is highly selective about giving permission to perform Appalachian Spring, and the Meadows School is honored to be able to present this notable work.
Tschaikovsky’s Pas de Deux
The program continues with Tschaikovsky’s Pas de Deux, an eight-minute display of ballet bravura and technique set to music that Tchaikovsky belatedly created in 1877 for Act III of Swan Lake. It was not published as part of Tchaikovsky’s original score and remained forgotten until 1953, when it was discovered in the Bolshoi Theater archives among the orchestral parts for another ballet. When Balanchine learned of the find, he successfully sought permission to use it for his own choreography; the New York City Ballet debuted the work in 1960.
The second half of the program features the world premiere of a newly choreographed version of Igor Stravinsky’s 1910 classic The Firebird, created by noted Mexican choreographers Claudia Lavista and Victor Manuel Ruiz, artistic directors of Delfos Danza Contemporanea in Mazatlán. They have replaced the magical and mercurial glowing bird of Russian folklore with a more contemporary version of Stravinsky’s masterwork inspired by the visual aesthetics of Hieronymus Bosch and the theme of migration, in both a large and small sense. For example, at one point dancers move under an undulating fabric “ocean” covered with dozens of ordinary household goods – a toaster, a lamp, a doll – alluding to the displacement of both people and things. Equal parts visual poetry and choreographic expression, the work provides a universe of symbols interwoven in a series of vignettes that allow for an open interpretation by audience members.
“Every human being is an immigrant,” says Lavista. “We spend our entire lives leaving behind ideas, spaces and concepts. As we migrate we carry with us memories and relics from our previous lives. We develop new ways of thinking, communicating and coexisting as we experience rootlessness and constant adaptation. We migrate to survive. We migrate because we have hope. During migration something within us dies, only to give birth to something else. This work is dedicated to the constant travelers – the men and women worldwide who mobilize their entire lives and start anew from scratch – and also to the small, internal migrations that happen to us all every day, allowing us to embrace the world in its magnificence and diversity.”
The Firebird project exemplifies the work of Delfos Danza Contemporanea, a collective of artists and educators dedicated to new ideas, new approaches and new forms. Their 2015 version of Stravinsky’s iconic Rite of Spring was praised by critics as “breathtaking” and “unforgettable.” Founded in 1992 by Lavista and Ruiz, the group is today considered Mexico’s premier contemporary dance company and one of the top artistic companies in Latin America.
(Photos by Paul Phillips)
Lavista, the recipient of numerous national and international awards, has performed worldwide and created more than 45 works for companies throughout North America. She has also been a guest artist at prestigious dance festivals and colleges in the U.S. and Mexico and conducted workshops and master classes internationally. In addition to serving as co-artistic director of Delfos, she is co-director and a teacher of the Mazatlán Professional School of Contemporary Dance and director of the Creators Special Program at the Arts Center in Oaxaca, specializing in the development of young choreographers.
Ruiz is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and lighting designer whose 30-year career has included numerous awards in each category. He has performed extensively, taught master classes internationally, created more than 50 works for dance companies, had his choreography presented at dance festivals and venues in multiple countries, and earned international praise for the clarity and poetry of his choreographic works and lighting design. With Lavista, he is co-artistic director and lighting designer of Delfos and co-director and a teacher of the Mazatlán Professional School of Contemporary Dance.
The Spring Dance Concert takes place in the Bob Hope Theatre in the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. Performance times are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for students, SMU faculty and staff. Free parking is available at Hillcrest and Binkley or in the garage under the Meadows Museum. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 214-768-2787.
NOTE: Appalachian Spring and The Firebird will be offered again at the Winspear Opera House on May 11 at 8 p.m. for “Meadows at the Winspear,” the annual fundraising event for the Meadows School of the Arts, with the Meadows Dance Ensemble collaborating with the acclaimed Meadows Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Paul Phillips. There will be one significant difference: the Winspear performance will present the world premiere of a brand new orchestration of Appalachian Spring created under the direction of the Copland Fund for Music. It will be the first time Copland’s complete, original dance score will be presented by a full orchestra – a fitting tribute to Martha Graham on her birthday, May 11. Proceeds from that event provide scholarships for the Meadows Scholars program, aimed at recruiting the brightest and most talented students to SMU and Dallas. “Meadows at the Winspear” tickets are available from the AT&T Performing Arts Center box office at 214-880-0202.
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