George Birkadze is a freelance dancer and choreographer, currently living in Boston.
George Birkadze is no stranger to Up Close on Hope. But he has never choreographed two works for the same program before. Both of these works – each powerful in their own right – highlight George’s range as a choreographer.
Rhapsody for Two
Set to the music of George Gershwin, “Rhapsody for Two” is a play on the classic and timeless music to which the piece is set: “Rhapsody in Blue.” The pas de deux evokes a bygone era of dance and romance; “Rhapsody” is reminiscent of Balanchine’s Who Cares? which was also set to Gershwin. The style and music may be borrowed from mid-twentieth century, but the story line is all George’s own. Much like his “The Taming of the Shrew” – which he set for FBP in the season-opening gala Together We Dance 2 – “Rhapsody for Two” follows a vibrant and eccentric plot-line between the two dancers.
Cleopatra’s aria from Handel’s epic opera Giulio Cesare provides an emotional and somber backdrop for George’s second piece on the program, “Pieta.” The piece features an ensemble of two women and three men with lyrical and dramatic choreography intended to capture the emotion and despair of Cleopatra’s aria.
The spring program of FBP’s Up Close on Hope will feature the world-premiere of Birkadze’s “Rhapsody for Two” and “Pieta” along with eight other pieces. For more information on Up Close on Hope, visit our website.
Madeleine Issa, Apprentice
Madeleine Issa was born and raised in Providence, RI. She began her training with the school of The State Ballet of Rhode Island, until her final year of training, where she continued study at the Festival Ballet Providence School as a Junior Company member. In addition to this training, she also attended summer programs at Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Miami City Ballet, and Orlando Ballet. In 2010, Ms. Issa competed with her peers from Festival Ballet Providence in the Youth American Grand Prix. In the same year, she completed the summer intensive at Festival Ballet, and was invited to join the company as a trainee. She studies part-time at the University of Rhode Island. This is Ms. Issa’s third season with the company.
John Drake is a freelance dancer and choreographer, currently living in New York City
“The First Thirty Years” is really a brief two minute look at a young lady I have know all my life and her first 30 years starting from about the age of 5. The style is more broadway styled and requires the emphasis be put on the acting more than the technical dancing. The piece never relaxes really, just like life. We only get glimpses of the story but in the end you watch the fast forwarded version of playing, dating, sex, marriage, kids, and even abuse and divorce. I hope this will be a ever-evolving dance and I hope you will enjoy and even relate to this character. Enjoy!
The spring program of FBP’s Up Close on Hope will feature Drake’s “The First Thirty Years” along with nine other pieces. For more information on Up Close on Hope, visit our website.
Alex Lantz is a first-year company dancer with Festival Ballet Providence
For me this dance was a journey through the variety of emotions you go through when you leave someone or someplace that was dear to you. I tried to go through what I felt when I left my most recent home to come here and I narrowed it down to four distinct feelings:
The spring program of FBP’s Up Close on Hope will feature the world-premiere of Lantz’s “Sides of Farewell” along with nine other pieces. For more information on Up Close on Hope, visit our website.
Vilia Putrius is an FBP company dancer and a frequent choreographer for Up Close on Hope
I called my piece of choreography “Musica.” I was very inspired by this beautiful tango composed by Astor Piazzolla and for a long while wanted to choreograph, but always felt, that it wasn’t the right time. It grew inside of me and I feel ready now.
In the choreography three dancers represent three different musical instruments: violin, piano and bass.
Also the sounds of these instruments represent three people, living their lives, facing the reality and fighting for their happiness.
It’s not a traditional Argentinian Tango, I use a contemporary dance language to express my emotions in the movement. The piece starts with a sound effect of a heartbeat, which to me symbolizes, that before man creates anything beautiful, it has to do with man being alive, feeling the inspiration and passion in his heart. I am so fortunate to be able to work with 6 amazing FBP dancers Jennifer Ricci, Ruth Bronwen Whitney, Alan Alberto, Alex Lantz, Ian Matysiak and Harunaga Yamakawa. There’s two casts dancing “Musica” and it makes me so happy to see how different each dancer interprets my choreography. Both casts are wonderful and bring their own colors to the piece.
Also I would like to thank audio engineer Bill Whitney for creating a sound effects and editing the music for my choreography.
The spring program of FBP’s Up Close on Hope will feature the world-premiere of Putrius’ “Musica” along with nine other pieces. For more information on Up Close on Hope, visit our website.
Dylan Giles, Apprentice
Dylan began his training at the age of 6 at the Raleigh School of Ballet in Raleigh, North Carolina. At the pre-professional company Raleigh Dance Theatre he performed in Les Sylphides, Sleeping Beauty and new works by Artistic Director Mary LeGere. He also performed with Carolina Ballet in various productions between 2002 and 2008. He continued his training at summer programs at North Carolina Dance Theatre, Boston Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. In 2008 he joined Indiana University Ballet Theater where he performed in Balanchine’s Rubies, Allegro Brillante, and Who Cares? He also performed the roles of Arabian and Cavalier in The Nutcracker. He graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance and an Outside Field in Journalism. This is his second season with Festival Ballet.
Tom Vacanti is an assistant professor of ballet at UMass Amherst.
“Enroulement” has been a ballet that has lived in my head for a number of years, and I have found a perfect opportunity here at Festival Ballet Providence to bring it to life. The literal translation of “enroulement” is “curl”, “spiral”, “winding”, and I have choreographed a ballet that embellishes the ballet technique with these qualities. The music I chose for Enroulement is by Kevin Volans. Though he now lives in Ireland, Kevin Volans was born in South Africa, and first established himself internationally with a series of works – most famously the string quartet “White Man Sleeps”, which I am using for this ballet – that made use of the indigenous music of his homeland.
As with much of Volans’s music, ideas don’t so much develop as explode into action. Choreographically, I am following his lead. The dancers’ steps and musicality, full of intricately worked rhythmic patterns, create engaging “scenes” and motifs within the ballet that come together as a cohesive whole at the end. Out of this emerges an intricate conversation of overlapping ideas, within which individual moments seem an echo of music and dance we already knew while others seemed startlingly fresh.
The spring program of FBP’s Up Close on Hope will feature the world-premiere of Vacanti’s “Enroulement” along with nine other pieces. For more information on Up Close on Hope, visit our website.