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UW’s Theatre and Dance, Symphony Orchestra Collaborate on Ballet Performances

March 24, 2022
dancers on a stage
UW students rehearse a scene from the ballet “Petrushka.” The UW Symphony Orchestra joins the UW Department of Theatre and Dance to produce “Petrushka” and “Afternoon of a Faun” March 29-April 3 on the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts main stage. (Cat Kamrath Photo)

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

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

The productions are choreographed by Cat Kamrath and Juliana Freude, UW Department of Theatre and Dance assistant lecturers, and conducted by Michael Griffith, UWSO music director. “Afternoon of a Faun” and “Petrushka” will run at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, through Saturday, April 2, with the final performance at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 3.

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

Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, a touring company based in Paris from 1909-1929, is widely regarded as the most influential ballet company of the 20th century. The company promoted artistic collaborations among the leading choreographers, composers, designers and dancers in its day. Ballets Russes reinvigorated the art of dance performance and elevated the role of visual artists and composers in productions.

“Afternoon of a Faun” was the first ballet from Vaslav Nijinsky’s choreographic leadership in Ballets Russes. Premiering in Paris in 1912, the original work challenged traditional ballet as it explored two-dimensional movement, bare feet and a smaller stage.

While “Afternoon of a Faun” is originally set in ancient Greece, UW’s production departs significantly from this to transport the work to Iceland, an inspiration from Kamrath’s trip in 2021. The production includes nymph characters that represent many elements of Iceland’s terrain, a gender-neutral Faun character and costumes that have been created using eco-conscious materials and practices, Kamrath says.

“I am so grateful to have an incredible design team that has made this world come to life with a reimagined set and costume design,” Kamrath says. “The choreography emphasizes contemporary modern practices while maintaining original inspirations, such as moments of two-dimensionality, bare feet and the narrative love story between the Faun and the Golden Nymph.”

Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” is a story about the love and jealousy of three puppets: Petrushka, the Ballerina and the Soldier. The play premiered during the 1911 Paris season of Ballets Russes. When the puppets are brought to life, Petrushka falls in love with the Ballerina. But she rejects him for the Soldier, which leads to a battle for her affections.

“Our production of ‘Petrushka’ steers away from early Russia and provides a fusion incorporating the authentic story with a modernized approach,” Freude says. “The choreography interweaves progressive contemporary modern 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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