The Romance Series

The Dayton Ballet Gets Ready for Valentine’s Day

By Jordan Pleasant

Dayton Ballet’s 2011-2012 sequence of performances continues February 9 -12, 2012, with The Romance Series.  Filled with all things love, just in time for Cupid’s holiday, each of the three pieces on the bill displays a different dialect of dance — all based in the classical ballet language.  Several Dayton Ballet dancers shared their reflections on the ballets in which they will perform.

The revival of Red Roses, a ballet by Austin Ballet’s Artistic Director, Stephen Mills, will begin the show.  Set to the enchanting music of French chanteuse Edith Piaf, the ballet showcases four couples performing to six songs.  Always witty and technically challenging, Mills’ choreography is expressive of the many voices of love.  First performed in 1989, Mills refined some of the steps since it was last performed in Dayton.  Ballet Master Justin Koertgen, who danced in the piece at that time, relearned the ballet in order to teach it to the company of dancers.

Case Bodamer, a four-year veteran of Dayton Ballet writes that Between Heaven and Earth, a world-premiere ballet choreographed by Dayton-native Gina Gardner-Walther, “is a truly unique piece showcasing a side of Dayton Ballet you most likely have not seen before.  While incorporating our classical ballet technique, the movement is contemporary.  Gina asks the dancers to push their boundaries to the limit and somewhat abandon technical precision in order to push the movement to the edge.  The piece is in four movements, to beautiful yet haunting piano compositions.”

Dancer Katie Keith relays that “working with Gina to create something brand new has been a real treat.  Between Heaven and Earth is a stylistically — and emotionally — fresh piece that audiences can easily relate to.  It provides a rather rare opportunity for the dancers to literally let our hair down, lose the pointe shoes and delve into a different type of movement.  Gina’s inspiration for this piece was the varied and often complicated facets of love, something very personal.  She reminds us that, although we strive for perfection in classical ballet, love is anything but perfect.  So, we are attempting to do away with perfection and embrace our mistakes.  I think these dynamics will make this a great piece to watch!”

Also on the bill is The Butterfly Suite, a one-act ballet loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, conceived and choreographed by Dayton Ballet Artistic Director, Karen Russo Burke.

Erica Lehman-Downey, who will dance the role of Suzuki, Butterfly’s maid and companion, says that audiences can expect to be taken through a story of innocent love, heartbreaking loss and the tragedies driven by the heart.  The importance of the clarity of the story and development of the characters led Karen to choreograph the ballet in a linear style, working from point A to point B.  Piecing the tragic love story together scene by scene immensely helped the company members to begin grasping the story and characters within the ballet’s entirety.

Once the work was complete, Karen added the Dayton Ballet School children into the cast as one of the final steps in the process.  A new addition to Dayton Ballet’s repertoire, this is a piece you won’t want to miss as the athleticism and artistry of your Dayton Ballet Company dancers take you on a journey of love this Valentine’s Day.

Erika Cole, who will dance the role of Butterfly, is looking forward to dancing in the brand new, authentic costumes designed and created by Dayton Ballet costumer and resident costume designer, Lowell Mathwich.  Lowell traveled to New York City twice to purchase fabric for the 20 costumes in the ballet.  The fabric is china silk and was chosen because it is lightweight and moves well, as well as being beautiful.  The kimonos will include traditional obis that are made of brocade material that complements the designs in the silk.  Lowell is an award-winning costume designer who has performed and designed costumes for Dayton Ballet for almost 30 years.

Dayton Ballet will perform The Romance Series in five performances.  Performance dates and times are February 9 – 12, 2012.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 8:00p.m.  Saturday and Sunday matinees begin at 3:00p.m.  Tickets may be purchased through Ticket Center Stage at 937-228-3630 or online at

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Jordan Pleasant
Jordan Pleasant has aspirations to dye his hair.

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