For the graduating seniors in the U’s Department of Ballet, the past four years have been full of a lot of things. Hundreds of nights have been spent massaging sore muscles. Thousands of pairs of pointe shoes have been broken in, danced on and discarded. Innumerable bobby pins have disappeared into whatever abyss it is those little pieces of metal go. But perhaps most important of all, the dancers have experienced four years of ballet training, with all the memories — happy, sad, frustrating — that go along with it.
This weekend, this group of 14 seniors will take the stage one last time to share with audiences all they have learned and to offer a glimpse into what their college lives have been like. These dancers have come through four years of classes, rehearsals and performances. They have danced in the works of their fellow students, in Balanchine’s “Serenade,” in productions of “Coppelia,” “Cinderella” and other famous ballets, and in a variety of world premieres by faculty and guest choreographers alike. All of this experience and skill comes to bear in Ballet Senior Showcase.
In years past in the department, the senior ballet students have used their final show of the year to dance a variation (a solo piece usually taken from a classical ballet) to show off their abilities. While this year’s group continued this pattern, they did mix it up a little for the first three women who performed. Taking their cue from shows like “The Bachelor,” the three dancers fought for the affections of Max (a fellow senior) as the characters featured in their variations — Kitri from “Don Quixote,” Aurora from “The Sleeping Beauty” and Aspicia from “The Pharaoh’s Daughter.” The result was entertaining to say the least and the dancing that interspersed the acting was beautiful. While the other dancers who did variations did not get the chance to be in this kind of skit, they were acting all the same, as each solo allowed a different persona to take the stage.
In addition to the variations scattered throughout the program, dancers presented a number of student-choreographed works. A haunting pas de deux by Sydney Duncan was followed by a gorgeous contemporary work courtesy of Kristina Caul. In the second half of the show, Olivia Mason’s bright, fast-paced piece and a dynamic number by Chloe Holzman continued the pattern of excellence. One final small group performance, titled “Unconquerable,” featured four dancers in a pulse-pounding display of power and fortitude.
While the dancing was impeccable and thoroughly enjoyable throughout, it was clear from beginning to end that this show was about the seniors themselves. A slideshow opened the night with baby pictures and photos from the past four years highlighting the accomplishments of the group. The final number came back to this theme in a big way. The dancers appeared in caps and gowns in a celebration of graduation before addressing the “big question”: What does one do with a BFA in Ballet?
As someone who has loved watching the students of the ballet department for the past four years, I must congratulate them on a spectacular performance, and I wish them luck with their personal and professional lives after graduation.
Ballet Senior Showcase runs today at 5:30 p.m., Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. All performances will be held in the Marriott Center for Dance and are free with a UCard.