Monday, March 30, 2015


              University Theatre presents Oklahoma Festival Ballet opening at 8 p.m. Friday, April 3, with additional performances at 8 p.m. April 4, 10, 11 and two matinees at 3 p.m. April 11, 12 in the Reynolds Performing Arts Center, Holmberg Hall, in Norman. The program features a new ballet by guest choreographer Jock Soto, Marius Petipa’s classical works, Le Corsaire Pas de Deux, Raymonda Pas de Dix, La Bayadére Act II, “The Kingdom of the Shades,” and School of Dance professor Jeremy Lindberg’s Rags to Jazztime.
              Jock Soto, renowned American dancer, teacher and choreographer, is the 2015 Susan E. Brackett Distinguished Visiting Artist Chair at the School of Dance. Soto’s new ballet, titled Someday Sideways, is a dynamic abstract work for a cast of 17 dancers to the music of Native American composer Laura Ortman.   The ballet was set on the Oklahoma Festival Ballet during Soto’s residency in early March.  Soto, who is half Navajo Indian and half Puerto Rican, was born in New Mexico and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. At the age of five, he began studying ballet with local teachers after seeing a television special featuring Edward Villella in the “Rubies” section of George Balanchine’s Jewels.
              Soto continued his studies at the School of American Ballet (SAB) beginning in 1977. While at SAB, Soto danced the role of “Luke” in Peter Martins’ The Magic Flute, which was choreographed for the 1981 SAB workshop performances. That year he became a member of New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet. In 1984, he was promoted to the rank of Soloist, and one year later he was named Principal. After an acclaimed 24-year performing career, he retired from dancing in 2005. He has been a member of SAB’s faculty since 1996.
              Soto’s extensive repertory at New York City Ballet included principal roles in numerous works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Peter Martins. He also inspired the creation of roles in many new ballets, including Peter Martins’ A Schubertiad (1984), Ecstatic Orange (1987), Fearful Symmetries (1990), Jazz (Six Syncopated Movements) (1993), Sinfonia (1993), Morgen (2001); Christopher Wheeldon’s Slavonic Dances (1997), Mercurial Manoeuvres (2000), Polyphonia (2001), Morphoses (2002), Liturgy (2003), Shambards (2004), After the Rain (2005); and Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Chiaroscuro (1994). Soto returned to the stage in May 2007 to originate the role of Lord Capulet in Peter Martins’ new production of Romeo and Juliet for New York City Ballet. In 2006, Mr. Soto staged Afternoon of a Faun for the Royal Ballet of London on behalf of the Jerome Robbins Trust.
              Soto was the recipient of the Casita Maria Award for Hispanics and The First Americans in the Arts Trustee Award. Friends In Deed recognized Soto for his patronage of AIDS research, and in 2002, the School of American Ballet presented him with the Mae L. Wein Award for Distinguished Service.
              Petipa’s breath-taking classic La Bayadére Act II, “The Kingdom of the Shades,” returns to the Oklahoma Festival Ballet repertoire by popular request for what has been called “the most mesmerizing scene in all of classical ballet.” Mary Margaret Holt stages this spellbinding classic with a cast of 25 dancers.
              Le Corsaire Pas de Deux is a tender dance for two between a slave and the heroine Medora with staging by Clara Cravey Stanley.  It is an excerpt from the full-length ballet Le Corsaire, with music by Leo Delibes. The Pas de Deux is dynamic, romantic and technically demanding with a rousing finale. 
              Raymonda Pas de Dix is an excerpt from Act 3 of Raymonda, with music by Alexander Glazunov. Ilya Kozadayev choreographs this rendition of the ballet after the original version created by Petipa for the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1898. The divertissement takes place as a celebration of Raymonda's wedding to Jean de Brienne at the end of the ballet.
              Marius Petipa, the French-born ballet master, is acclaimed as the greatest classical ballet choreographer ever to have lived.  Petipa spent nearly sixty years working at the Imperial Ballet Theatre and its successor, the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre. In that time he choreographed over sixty original ballets, and developed his troupe to be undisputedly the finest ballet company in Europe. He was the central figure in Russia's golden age of ballet, and as such he helped establish St. Petersburg as a cultural centre to rival the great capitals of old western Europe.
              Lindberg’s Rags to Jazztime is a light and fun lark in which six ladies flirt with one gentleman dandy in 1920s style to a jazz era score.
              OU’s dance program was founded in 1963 by Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov, former principal dancers with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The department became the School of Dance in 1998 with Mary Margaret Holt as director. Undergraduate and graduate dance majors, along with general education students, total approximately 1000 students in dance classes per semester. The School of Dance’s state-of-the-art facility in the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Art Center was completed in 2005.
              Advance purchase tickets for Oklahoma Festival Ballet are $25 for adult, $20 for senior adult, OU employee and military, and $15 for student, plus fee. Tickets at the door are $35 for adult and $20 for student, cash or check only.  To purchase tickets online go THEATRE.OU.EDU, call or visit the OU Fine Arts Box Office at (405) 325-4101, located at 500 W. Boyd St., Catlett Music Center, Norman.  For accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the OU Fine Arts Box Office at (405) 325-4101.
              For more information call the OU School of Dance at (405) 325-4051.   

From the press release                                                                                   

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