Ballet company’s latest aims for abstraction
Variety of styles melds with music
Dress rehearsal for the Petit Papillon Ballet Theatre of New Hampshire presents the Snow Queen on March 31, 2012. (Andrea Morales/Monitor Staff)
The story behind Petit Papillon’s upcoming production, Terpischore, is that there is no story. Unlike most concerts the ballet company has performed over the years, this one isn’t constrained by the demands and expectations of plot. Instead, Terpischore is a pure marriage of music and dance.
“As I was watching the rehearsal last night, I was thinking that there are so many types of dances that are being done,” said Patricia Walker, director of the Petit Papillon Ballet Theatre of New Hampshire. “When you have a concert like this you’re not hemmed in by trying to make the choreography fit the character, so you can just listen to the music and let it tell you what it will. Music does speak to you.”
Terpischore, named for the Greek muse that ruled over dance and the dramatic chorus, is a collection of varied pieces, all choreographed to the music of well-known local musician Ward Dilmore.
“The only thing you have that ties you down is what you can imagine is going on with the music,” said Walker, who choreographed the ballet, along with co-director Kelly Doremus-Stuart.
Working with the music was a free-form experience said Walker, whose dancers are known for their precision and technique. One piece called “Whistling Jim” turned into “Whistling Jim in Antarctica” after the dancers put their stamp on it. “I’m not sure exactly how it all happened. It happened quite accidentally,” Walker said. “They started moving in a way that just said, ‘penguin.’ ”
In contrast to such lighthearted pieces, there are dances that evoke deep emotion. “Heart Strings,” which was choreographed by Doremus-Stuart, brings Walker to tears during rehearsals, while others leave her energized and inspired. One uses balls in a range of sizes from children’s toy balls all the way up to exercise balls. “It’s very inventive and clever,” Walker said.
The songs also showcase movements the dancers don’t often get to use in a typical story ballet. It’s a challenging new experience for the 12 dancers in Petit Papillon dance company, Walker said, but also a useful one. The company will be able to draw upon the repertoire for performances and demonstrations at schools and other institutions. “This gives us a lot of choreography that we can use in a lot of different ways,” Walker said.
For the audience, Terpischore, will offer something different as well: a freedom to interpret the music in their own way.
Dilmore, an Emmy-nominated composer whose music can be heard on New Hampshire Crossroads on NHPTV and Ciao Italia on PBS, had this to say in his artist’s statement about the ballet: “Music and dance are the language of the spirit. By experiencing this language of music and dance, the audience can interpret the meaning of a tale as it applies to their own unique sense of the world.”
Dilmore, who has collaborated with Petit Papillon in the past and will attend a special performance for area schools tomorrow, was excited to see his music used in this way.
“Without dancers, many would pass by a piece of music and never ponder its meaning because they would feel that a piece of music is too obscure or too much of a mystery. Many of us need to see in order to believe or understand, and for those people, the blend of music and physical movement is a beautiful marriage of the real and the imagined,” he said.
Performances of Terpischore will take place on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Concord City Auditorium. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children and seniors and are available at Gibson’s Bookstore at the Petit Papillon studio, located in the Green Street Community Center (studio hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday) or at the door before the performance. For information, visit petitpapillon.org.