San Diego Ballet Presents "Joplin and Firebird"
Showing:November 18 - November 20, 2016
About the Show
Folklore meets Funk! An ancient tale of a magical bird of fire comes to life with an contemporary twist. Javier Velasco’s modern/ballet fusion staging, teaming classical dancers with hip hop artists, lights up the stage with originality and boundless energy. Also on the program, Velasco’s sly and syncopated, JOPLINESQUE.
Firebird was one of the first pieces that I did for the company. I always enjoy revisiting it as it has such a strong energy and direction. The basis for the piece is a Russian folktale, but just like any other folktale the it seems to be easily understandable by all of our audiences. Heroes. Villains. Magical promises. Oh and lots of full out dancing. SDB’s version is a bit different than others, in that in (unapologetically) mixes hip hop dancers into the mix. There is nothing old-fashioned about the music for Firebird. Ancient, yes. Old-fashioned, no. I think that we have been doing the piece for about 20 years now. It has held up pretty well, if I say so myself.
The Joplin piece has a different beginning. Back when I started dancing, the movie The Sting was very popular. With it came a re-examination of Scott Joplin's music and ragtime. This all sort of seeped into popular culture and even as far as… ballet classes. Many a ballet barre in the 80’s featured the sounds of The Entertainer and Maple Leaf Rag, Plotless ballets based around specific composers are a stock and trade with dance companies. Some, like Les Sylphides (Chopin), strive to achieve something more than strict music visualization. With this particular piece, I wanted to give the dancers a piece in which they could just dance as themselves, but within the construction of classical ballet form. So often there are so many layers that audiences have to peel through just to get to the dance. Which is not to say the piece isn’t complex, because sometimes it IS. Just like big puzzle that comes together beautifully.
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