Genres intertwine at Civic Ballet

First Posted: 4/11/2012

At the upcoming Scranton Civic Ballet spring “In Concert” performance eventgoers and ballet lovers can expect to find a diversified mix of two genres: classical ballet and live music, as the Scranton Civic Ballet children’s, apprentice and senior companies take the stage at the Mellow Theatre at Lackawanna College.

Scranton Civic Ballet artistic director, Helen Gaus, who founded Scranton Civic Ballet in 1978, described the April 15 spring performance “In Concert” as diversified.

She said, “This spring ballet performance is special because it is diversified…The senior company is performing to live music. We have a classical guitarist, Jay Stevesky and a flutist, Ed Wargo, who will be playing for the Spanish dances, and the second piece, will be performed musically by Doug Smith and his band (The Doug Smith Orchestra).”

Doug Smith, of the Doug Smith Orchestra, who plays bass, has been working in the music industry full time for most of his life. Band members are R.J. Kennedy, drummer; Jim Selingo, musical arrangements and piano; Gary Rixner, trombone; Dave Jumper, trumpet; and Tom Hamilton, saxophone.

Smith said, “This is the fourth or so time we’ve worked with Helen (Gaus) and it’s a great experience and we appreciate it. Hardly any dance ensembles use live music around here. For her (Gaus) to go to the trouble to get the grants to be able to do that is a pretty cool thing. The biggest thing I like about this type of performance is interacting with dancers. We rarely get to play live music for choreographed dance, so it’s nice to be able to perform the music. It’s the interaction of the two art forms: live music and live dancing. Putting those two together is fun and artistically rewarding. It’s something that doesn’t occur a lot anymore except maybe in New York or large cities.”

The members of the apprentice group will perform “Les Patineurs,” a series of dances reflecting incidents that occurred at a skating pond a long time ago. The children’s ballet, “Alice Meets the Queen,” is a segment taken from the full production of Alice, “so that we get a little snippet of Alice and her sister reading,” said Gaus. “She falls asleep and in comes the White Rabbit. They take that into the queen’s garden, which is really a lot of minuets… It’s funny,” said Gaus. The White Rabbit will be performed by Tamane Takehara, Clarks Summit.

Twelve-year-old Cara Mia Manasek, 12, of Clarks Summit, began her dance lessons at age five, and is one of the dancers to simulate ice skating in the performance. She said, “I like the turns. They are fun and exciting to watch and do.”

Jackie Dende, also an ice skater, will appear on stage in a bright blue costume with a “really pretty” sash to go with it. “What I like about this particular performance is that it gets you ready for the spring season. It’s really what everyone pictures ballet to be – pink and flowing. I love how we have the bright costumes. It’s really exciting.”

Costumes for “In Concert,” are handmade by Helen Kasarda with alterations by seamstress, Nancy Hudanich. “We have beautiful Spanish costumes in antique gold for the Spanish dances, and naturally, for “Stars and Stripes,” we have red, white and blue (colors). For Les Patineurs, we have costumes trimmed with fur. Absolutely beautiful…,” said Gaus.

Tickets are $14 and are available at Scranton Civic Ballet Company and at the door. Performances begin at 2 p.m. For more information, call 570.343.0115.

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