The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

October 17, 2012

Tickets still available for ballet Thursday

Staff Writer

TARBORO — Tickets remain available for Thursday evening performance of the New York Theatre Ballet in Edgecombe Community College’s Keihin Auditorium. The curtain will rise at 7 p.m.

Admission to the ballet is free of charge, but reservations are required and may be made by calling 823-5166, ext. 187.

The performance is made possible through funding from the Furman-Mathewson Trust.

 “I think every community should be able to see the arts entertainment,” said Diana Byer, artistic director for the ballet. “I think the arts touch a person’s soul and that’s an important part of living.”

Byer said the audience at the ballet would get a “real taste of different styles.”

Jose Limon’s “The Moor’s Pavane,” a famous telling of Shakespeare’s “Othello,” showcases a modern style of dance. “A Rugged Flourish,” the 2011 abstract telling of a “young man showing his courage and determination,” is a contemporary dance score, said Byer. “Soiree Musical” (1938) is an upbeat showcase of 19th Century dance styles.

The ballet will also give the audience a taste of Broadway musical-style dance with Agnes de Mille’s 1942 Broadway musical “Oklahoma.”

“There will be something in it for everyone,” said Anderson Ferrell, member of the De Mille working group and former dancer for the Ballet Company at New York City Opera. “It will give everybody a little example of the various kinds of serious dancing there is.”

While the audience will see plenty of pointe shoes and tutus on stage, cowboy and Indian costumes will appear in De Mille’s “Oklahoma,” said Ferrell. He said De Mille changed musical theatre with “Oklahoma” by making the dancers an essential part of the plot and making the plot “driven by character.”

As in all Broadway musicals, the dancers in the ballet will tell the audience a story through their fluidity of movement and the live music that accompanies that movement.

“The company is designed to be an intimate experience. You become very involved with the story that the dancers are telling,” said Byer.

Dancing is “the most direct and effective form of communication,” said Ferrell. “It’s all about movement and gesture.”

The ballet will have question and answer sessions at the end of each performance to give the community a chance to get to know the performers.  Byer said she feels the ballet will have a chance to become a part of the community during its short visit.

“We’re really excited about how generous everyone in the community is being to us,” said Byer. “This is the first time in 30 years the community is hosting us. We’re staying in different people’s homes.”

Members of the trust are among those hosting members of the ballet. Since its creation in 1990, the trust has funded primarily “performance and literary-oriented events” of such high-caliber that they would normally only come to major cities such as Charlotte and Raleigh, Marrow said. Other cultural events the trust has funded over the years are a performance by B.B. King, appearances by poet Maya Angelou and writer Nicholas Sparks, and a concert featuring the East Carolina Symphony Orchestra. The Trust will bring the orchestra back in the spring.

The trust works closely with the production staff at the community college to bring the special cultural events to Tarboro. Like all the events the trust underwrites, the upcoming ballet performance will be “top quality,” Marrow said.

“We’re very grateful to the Trust for underwriting this,” Ferrell noted. “I think this is something that will be very interesting and entertaining for the people of Tarboro.”

In addition to the Thursday evening performance, second and third-grade schoolchildren will also have a chance to experience the ballet as well.

The ballet will do a special performance of “Goose,” an original dance score incorporating various nursery rhymes, at 10 a.m. Friday

Byer said she thinks the children will learn a lot from watching the choreographically sophisticated portrayals of nursery rhymes such as “Little Miss Muffet,” “Jack and Jill,” and Three Blind Mice.”  She stressed the importance of children getting involved in the arts at a young age.

“It opens up your mind. It makes you inquisitive,” she said.

The appearance of the New York Theatre Ballet is part of the Edgecombe Performance Series.