Chattanooga Now Introduction helps Ballet Tennessee dancers spread their wings

Chattanooga Now Introduction helps Ballet Tennessee dancers spread their wings

May 20th, 2011 by Holly Leber in Chattanooga Now - Art

Pyotr Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" is one of the most iconic ballets of all time. And so it makes sense that a company would take its time diving in.

In preparation for staging a full production next year, in honor of the company's 25th anniversary, Ballet Tennessee has created The Swan Lake Project, which will introduce the community to Tchaikovsky's classic, said associate director Laurel Shastri.

Ballet Tennessee is working in collaboration with the VanCura Ballet Conservatory, the affiliated school, to present Acts 2 and 3 of the ballet, this Saturday at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Fine Arts Center. The Swan Lake Project is part of the Spring Festival of Dance.

"This is a great way to introduce the dancers to the music, the story, the repertoire involved, the technical aspects, because it is a very technically and artistically challenging ballet," said Shastri.

The Project will include some of the Conservatory's young students and members of the professional training program.

"The dancers first worked with the style and emotional content of their roles, along with the technical elements," said artistic director Anna VanCura in a news release. "It is very exciting to see that they are embodying their roles and through that transformation, surpassing artistic and technical goals that we initially set for The Swan Lake Project."

For The Swan Lake Project, Ballet Tennessee alumnus and Montgomery Ballet trainee Joseph Lynch will return to dance the role of Prince Siegfried. Breanna Houston will dance the role of the white swan, Odette, and Jenison Owens will dance Odile, the black swan.

The program also will include contemporary choreography by two faculty members, Brittany Johnson-Mills and Jennia Shanley. Johnson-Mills, also a company alumna, has created a work, "Wind Dancers," set to the music of White Stones. Shanley's piece, "Voyage," is danced to the music of Philip Glass and was inspired by early 20th-century immigrants at Ellis Island, said Shastri.