UW Theater and Dance and Symphony Orchestra Collaborate on Ballet Performances | News

March 24, 2022

UW students rehearse a scene from the ballet “Petrushka.” The UW Symphony Orchestra joins the UW Department of Theater and Dance to produce “Petrushka” and “Afternoon of a Faun” March 29-April 3 on the Main Stage at the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Kamrath cat)

The University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra (UWSO) joins the UW Theater and Dance Department to produce two fully staged ballets March 29-April 3 on the main stage of the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts .

The ballets are taken from the repertoire of Sergei Diaghilev’s acclaimed Ballets Russes: “The Afternoon of a Faun,” composed by Claude Debussy, and “Petrushka,” composed by Igor Stravinsky.

The productions are choreographed by Cat Kamrath and Juliana Freude, assistant professors in the UW Department of Theater and Dance, and directed by Michael Griffith, UWSO Music Director. “The Afternoon of a Faun” and “Petrushka” will run at 7:30 p.m. from Tuesday March 29 to Saturday April 2, with the final performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday April 3.

Tickets are $16 for the public; $13 for seniors; $8 for UW students with a “W” number; and $5 to stream live. To purchase tickets, visit the Performing Arts Box Office, call (307) 766-6666, or go online to www.uwyo.edu/finearts.

Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, a traveling company based in Paris from 1909 to 1929, is widely regarded as the most influential ballet company of the 20th century. The company encouraged artistic collaborations between the greatest choreographers, composers, designers and dancers of its time. The Ballets Russes reinvigorated the art of dance and increased the role of visual artists and composers in productions.

“The Afternoon of a Faun” was the first ballet of the choreographic direction of Vaslav Nijinsky in the Ballets Russes. Created in Paris in 1912, the original work challenged traditional ballet by exploring two-dimensional movement, bare feet and a smaller stage.

While “Afternoon of a Faun” is originally set in ancient Greece, UW’s production deviates significantly from it to transport the work to Iceland, an inspiration from Kamrath’s 2021 journey. The production includes nymph characters that represent many elements of the Icelandic terrain, a gender-neutral wildlife character, and costumes that were created using environmentally friendly materials and practices, says Kamrath.

“I’m so grateful to have an incredible design team that brought this world to life with reimagined set and costume design,” Kamrath said. “The choreography emphasizes contemporary modern practices while retaining original inspirations, such as moments of two-dimensionality, bare feet, and the narrative love affair between the Faun and the Golden Nymph.”

“Petrushka” by Stravinsky is a story of love and jealousy between three puppets: Petrushka, the ballerina and the soldier. The piece was created during the Paris season of the Ballets Russes in 1911. When the puppets come to life, Petrouchka falls in love with the ballerina. But she rejects him for the soldier, which leads to a battle for his affections.

“Our production of ‘Petrushka’ moves away from primitive Russia and offers a fusion incorporating authentic history with a modernized approach,” says Freude. “The choreography blends modern contemporary progressive and ballet elements.”

For more information, call Kathy Kirkaldie, UW Fine Arts Coordinator, at (307) 766-2160 or email kirisk@uwyo.edu.

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