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Grand Valley brings modern dance to Stravinsky classic

Posted on October 06, 2009

 A new modern dance adaptation of Stravinsky's neoclassical "Pulcinella" will be presented as the final Grand Valley State University Fall Arts Celebration 2009 event.


The performance, on Monday, October 19, begins at 8 p.m. in the Louis Armstrong Theatre, Performing Arts Center, Allendale Campus. The performance is open to the public with free admission.


Shawn T Bible, Grand Valley assistant professor of dance, reinvents the classical characteristics in the traditional ballet. He believes that Stravinsky would probably be amused, since his own version of the ballet was a masterful reworking of the music of Pergolesi, an early classical composer of comic operas in Naples during the mid 1700s. 


"The music was written by Stravinsky with the narrative in mind," said Bible. "The ballet will maintain its structure, characters and plot, while presenting the audience with a refreshing perspective on a classic and stronger gestural movement vocabulary that lends itself to modern dance."


Pulcinella is a character originating from commedia dell'arte. Scored for a modern chamber orchestra with soprano, tenor, and baritone soloists, the ballet was first commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev and premiered in Paris in 1920 under the baton of Ernest Ansermet. The dancer Leonid Myasin (Léonide Massine) created both the libretto and choreography, and Pablo Picasso designed the original costumes and sets.


The ballet unfolds in one single act and features Pulcinella, his girlfriend Pimpinella, and a cast of interesting characters involved in the pursuits of love. It also recognized WWI in a heavy way, though the story is funny with many high-jinks, and is intended as an escapist experience.


'Pulcinella' was most often performed as orchestral suites and not danced. This performance will be a collaboration between faculty and students, conducted by Henry Duitman, choreographed by Shawn T Bible, and danced by a splendid cast of Grand Valley dance faculty, the student Dance Ensemble, and guest dancers.


For more information, contact Shawn T Bible, assistant professor of dance in Grand Valley's Department of Music, at or (616) 331-3487.

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