Dance Archives - Michigan Opera Theatre

The Story of Swan Lake in Black and White

  Swan Lake is perhaps the most well-known ballet, next to The Nutcracker. Petipa choreographed this famous ballet, danced to a glorious score by Tchaikovsky, in 1877. Swan Lake is the love story of Prince Siegfried, who on a hunting trip encounters a flock of swans, falls in love with the Swan Queen, Odette, and …

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Dance Dialogues

Welcome to MOT’s Dance Dialogues. Similar to a book club, this is a monthly virtual gathering to view and discuss dance together. MOT will share digital dance works of certain themes to view on your own. Then we will all meet via ZOOM on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 3:00 PM (ET). Each …

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Ballet Blanc: Shades, Shadows and Spirits

The term ballet blanc – literally translated as “white ballet” – refers to a genre of classical ballets in which the ballerina and the female corps de ballet are costumed in white tutus. These ballets represent the Romantic style of 19th-century ballet, and the ballet blanc ballerinas usually represented fairies, ghosts, or other supernatural creatures.  The earliest example of ballet blanc dates back to 1832, with Marie Taglioni (the first ballerina to wear pointe shoes). She danced the title role in La Sylphide, a full-length …

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Standby: A new film-exclusive performance celebrates the 60th anniversary of Nederlands Dans Theatre

In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Nederlands Dans Theatre (NDT), house choreographer Paul Lightfoot created a new work, captured and released exclusively on film to accommodate socially-distanced guidelines. The project, Standby, includes dancers from NDT1 (the first company) and NDT2 (originally formed as a training company for young talent, now an independent company that tours internationally). Created in tandem with Sol León’s She Remembers, both works were choreographed and filmed over the …

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The Royal Ballet: Making Waves with Woolf Works

Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novels, letters, essays and diaries, Wayne McGregor, the resident choreographer of The Royal Ballet, conceived a full evening work called Woolf Works. The Royal Ballet commissioned the German-born British composer Max Richter to create a new score for the ballet. McGregor engaged Italian prima ballerina assoluta Alessandra Ferri to dance the …

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Four Minutes a Dying Swan: Anna Pavlova and Becoming the Symbol of the New Russian Ballet

In 1905, legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova asked choreographer Michel Fokine (of Sergei Diaghilev‘s Ballets Russes ballet company) to create a solo dance piece for her to perform at a gala concert by artists from the Imperial Mariinsky Opera. It was Fokine who suggested “The Swan” from Camille Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals musical suite. Pavlova was quick to agree, as she was inspired by swans she had seen in the public parks, …

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Music as Inspiration: The Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony #5

Choreographers often commission composers to create scores for a new ballet or dance work. Because the music is specifically created to realize the choreographer’s vision, the result can be extraordinary. The creation comes from a much more organic process, as the music and the dance are so intertwined from conception. A perfect example of this is Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring, set to Aaron Copland’s commissioned score. Another example is The Four Temperaments, a ballet made …

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Greenwood: Donald Byrd, Alvin Ailey and the Telling of a Tragedy

Alvin Ailey is streaming its performance of Donald Byrd’s Greenwood until Friday, June 26 as part of “Ailey All Access.” Learn about this performance and watch below. It is not unique for a work of art to be inspired by injustice or born as a response to tragedy. But when Donald Byrd was commissioned by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to choreograph a new work and chose The Tulsa Race Massacre as his …

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A Controversial Masterpiece: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn

Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the famous Ballets Russes, was one of the 20th century’s most influential and important purveyors of art. A distinguished Russian impresario, he became a central figure in the artistic worlds of Paris, London, Rome, Berlin and Madrid in the late 1800s/early 1900s.     Diaghilev’s most famous dancer was Vaslav Nijinsky, who was eager to explore his own hand at choreography. Claude Debussy’s composition, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, was based on a poem by poet Stéphane Mallarmé. Debussy …

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Alvin Ailey and “A Song for You”: A Dedication to the Memory of George Floyd

This past week has been filled with grief, anxiety, sadness, fear and violence as a result of the arrest and murder of Mr. George Floyd. His death represents an injustice that for many is unfathomable. It is never easy to have something so horrific and ugly shoved in your face, forcing you to acknowledge its very existence. Mr. Floyd’s brother has called for an end to …

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