From RVA to CNU

The Richmond Ballet Comes to the Ferguson Center for the Arts

On Oct. 5, Newport News got a little taste of Richmond when the Richmond Ballet came to the Ferguson Center on tour. The Richmond Ballet brought John Butler’s stunning contemporary ballet, Carmina Burana, to the stage. Set to Carl Orff’s choral work of the same name, this ballet is far from traditional, but breathtaking nonetheless. 

The ballet, while not a direct dramatization of the poems, still conveys their meaning. It is set in three parts, with a prologue and an epilogue. The prologue and epilogue lament the turning of the Wheel of Fate. The first part tells of the joy of spring, the second part relates all the highs and lows of tavern life, and the third part is all about love. 

The biggest departure from traditional ballet is the fact that the dancers were all barefoot, which is very unusual in ballet. The style of movement was also distinctive from the typical pirouettes and jetés one might normally see. The dancers moved in ways that were unique, intense, and sometimes slightly strange. It evoked feelings of grief and joy, excitement and despair, love and hate. 

With no words but the Latin of the songs, the dancers managed to tell a story both beautiful and terrible. It was a story of humanity, with all the heights and depths of human emotion played out on stage. And it ends where it began: with the relentless turning of the Wheel of Fate.

On a lighter note, before Carmina Burana, they also performed Theme and Variations. This was a shorter and more traditional ballet which, although it did not follow a plot, was every bit as captivating as the main work. Choreographed by the legendary George Balanchine, this beautiful piece elicited feelings of wonder. Watching the dancers move gracefully across the stage, one could not help but marvel at the beauty and precision with which they moved. 

While the Richmond Ballet is of course located in Richmond, not Newport News, I strongly encourage anyone who finds themselves in the area to make time for a performance.

~Peri Costic, Staff Writer~

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