Saddle up for a great live-art event: the Fort Wayne Ballet and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic will perform selections from Aaron Copland's ballet “Rodeo” at 2 p.m. Sunday in Auer Performance Hall on the IPFW campus.
“Rodeo” (pronounced roe-DAY-oh) is a ballet composed by Copland and choreographed by Agnes De Mille. Created in 1942, this music and dance collaboration has a distinctly American flavor.
Cowboy songs provided the inspiration for the music. De Mille created a new style of choreography, which was different from what classical ballet audiences were accustomed to seeing.
“The sound of 'Rodeo' – it's a distinct American sound,” noted Fort Wayne Philharmonic Assistant Conductor Sameer Patel. “It's a little bit different from what you would expect.”
Fort Wayne Ballet Choreographer David Ingram agreed.
“You feel that classic American sound — I always think of westerns,” he said. “It definitely feels grand, like you're on a stagecoach. There's not those standard, even tempos.”
The unique rhythms of “Rodeo” encouraged Ingram to include some humor in the Fort Wayne Ballet's presentation of the dance.
“We have horses, cowboys, saloon girls — it might be kind of funny,” he hinted. “I really hope to have the kids (in the audience) laughing.”
No live animals will be on stage for the show.
“We asked if we could have real horses and cows — but they said no,” said Ingram.
Because this is a Fort Wayne Philharmonic Family Concert, only selections of the ballet will be presented for the audience.
“What we're performing is called 'Four Dance Episodes,'” Patel said. Each episode will be 20 minutes long and will feature Christopher Murphy as the narrator. Western illustrations will also be projected before the audience during the concert.
About 16 ballet dancers — both professional and students from the Fort Wayne Ballet — will perform the dance numbers.
As Ingram put it, “The narrator comes in, and we (the ballet dancers) help the story in parts. We use pantomime — using body language to tell the story — and the narrator talks over the pantomime.”
Although the original ballet included modern choreography, Ingram stated that this performance will contain “more classical ballet in a comic sense.”
“It's really fun for the whole family,” said Patel, explaining the Family Concert concept. “Kids love the musical experience, and they respond enthusiastically to singing and dancing. … They really love what we do.”
Leaders of the ballet and the orchestra are excited about the opportunity to collaborate.
“What's great about this is, we're working with dancers …” said Patel. “You have all these different artists on stage. Everybody brings their strengths to the rehearsal period. That's what makes it exciting.”
“Our absolute favorite (experience) in the world is performing with the Philharmonic — having live music is very special for the audience and dancers,” added Ingram.
A special children's activity time will begin at 1 p.m., one hour before the performance. Children and their families will be able to see costumed ballet dancers, experience a musical instruments playground, make cowboy vests and puppets at a craft table and watch a lasso demonstration.