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All levels of ballet go on display

BY JOSIE JONES | DECEMBER 17, 2009 7:30 AM

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In 2004, Jason Schadt performed a dance to music from Charles Gounod while studying in Tokyo.

This semester, he has attempted to bring the piece to the UI as a reconstruction.

“It’s completely unidentifiable. It’s the same music, but I put it on different bodies and a different size cast,” he said. “Almost every instant of it is different now.”

Schadt choreographed the piece for the fourth level of ballet — the most advanced level — offered through the UI’s Youth Ballet program, which features dancers from age 7 to early high school.

Level-four dancers will perform his choreography at the annual UI Youth Ballet Winter Concert.

The other three levels will also perform, dancing in different pieces. The show will grace the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday in North Hall’s Space/Place. The show will continue at 3 p.m. Dec. 20. Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for seniors and youth, and free to UI students with valid IDs.

The performance is set to Gounod’s Faust, incorporating six of the opera’s seven movements. In total, dancers will perform eight pieces.

The winter concert has four choreographers. Schadt, a graduate of the UI M.F.A. program, choreographed four of the six Faust pieces, and UI senior Lydia Phillips choreographed the other two. Kathryn Smith, the UI Dance Forum director, created a winter-solstice piece. Mareva Minerbi, who completed her undergraduate degree at the UI, choreographed a pointe piece.

Even though most pieces have fewer than 10 dancers, Schadt said, it has been difficult for the choreographers to create pieces that show off the students’ ability while still challenging them.

Schadt said the “short and sweet” 45-minute performance has required the choreographers to excite the students.

“When you’re young, I think you look forward to the dress-up aspect of a ballet. This piece isn’t about that aspect much at all,” the 29-year old said. “We’re trying to show the students it can really be about the movement, and the costume is a tool for showing it off in its best light.”

The stage on which the winter concert will be performed is quite simple, and no props will be used. It is a fairly straightforward performance, Schadt said.

It has also been difficult for the students to grasp that the concert is not a story ballet similar to Sleeping Beauty or The Nutcracker, he said. Because there is not a cast of characters, he has had to help the students use their imagination to become motivated in a different way. For example, he suggested using a theme of nature, such as a forest creature or a fairy, to help them decide what it is they’re doing on stage.

“I’ve given them moves or images to sort of inspire them,” Schadt said. “But the piece is fundamentally coming down to the students to create what the piece is about.”


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