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Symphony and Ballet Share the Stage

by Dr. Thomas Heuser, Music Director, Idaho Falls Symphony

Published online: Mar 11, 2024 Arts & Culture
Viewed 874 time(s)

Photos Courtesy: Idaho Falls School of Ballet and Idaho Falls Symphony

Over the past 75 years at the Idaho Falls Symphony, collaborations with other non-profits and arts organizations in our community have built lasting relationships. Recent productions with the Idaho Falls Youth Arts Centre and Camerata Singers of Pocatello come to mind, but we can also remember concerts featuring the IF Firefighters Fife and Drum Corps, Medicine Thunder from Fort Hal, and a double orchestra performance with the Idaho State Civic Symphony.

On March 16, the Symphony is proud to present A Night at the Ballet, an impactful performance of Russian ballet music that features a unique collaboration with the Idaho Falls School of Ballet. We have worked with Deborah Bean and her wonderful students for more than two decades over countless productions, including Tchaikovsky’s triumvirate of masterful ballets: Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and many seasons of The Nutcracker

Those productions featured the touring professionals of the Eugene Ballet, with the orchestra buried in the “orchestra pit” below the stage and local students cast in supporting roles. Now, things are very different: The dancers taking center stage in the leading roles are both students and faculty of the Idaho Falls School of Ballet, and the choreography has been tailored for the event. The orchestra will be upstage in all its glory, nestled in the orchestra shell, with the conductor looking over his shoulder as the dancers come downstage towards the audience.

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Ballet will be the main attraction, notably the 9-movement Suite for Orchestra. Passion oozes from this music, and showcases the full orchestra with abundant, colorful solos. Faculty dancers Arynne Kunsaitis and Nic Gili will perform alongside a company of nearly 30 students from the IF School of Ballet, with choreography by Bean and colleague Mariko Downs. Several students are cast in solo roles for their Symphony debut, including Abigail Balsmeier, Grace Hague, Lilly Drysdale, Elias Smith, Lauren Seedall, and others. 

Paired with the majestic Swan Lake is another mysterious Russian tale: The Firebird, with music by Igor Stravinsky. The orchestra will perform the  striking Firebird Suite from 1919 as a prelude, reminding audiences the sheer power of musical gesture. Stravinsky wrote his own triumvirate of ballets: The Firebird, Petrushka, and the shocking Rite of Spring. Ballet music clearly brings out the best in both Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, and their shared Russian musical heritage is a reminder of the power of cultural influences and musical traditions to produce great art.

The March 16 performance of A Night at the Ballet  begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Frontier Center for the Performing Arts in Idaho Falls. Tickets and complete program information are available at www.ifsymphony.org. Come early for prologues starting at 6:30 p.m., and experience an informal discussion of the concert, free for all audiences. For more information about the Idaho Falls School of Ballet, visit www.ifballet.com. 

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