By MIKE CHAIKEN
Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory has been here before.
But Victoria Mazzarelli, the school’s artistic director, is more than happy to revisit Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”—especially considering the upcoming opportunity it presents her young dancers.
From Feb. 11 to 14, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra will present, “Love Notes,” a celebration of love. And as part of the evening, the symphony will be bringing in several guests to join them on stage. Maria Rud will paint live as the orchestra performs. The UConn Puppet Arts Program will perform as the symphony plays Debussy’s “Claire de Lune.” And dancers from the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory will perform the pas de deux from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” as played by HSO.
Mazzarelli said the ballet company, which is based in Torrington, has performed the piece, “Romeo and Juliet,” previously. In fact, she danced in it in the 1980s.
But, given the chance to perform with the HSO, she said Nutmeg Ballet was more than willing to revisit the piece again. Mazzarelli said in the weeks leading up to the performances Feb. 11 to 14, the choreography has been reworked to make it fresh.
“It’s a nice opportunity (for the dancers),” said Mazzarelli.
Mazzarelli said the works of Shakespeare are a natural fit for a transformation into a ballet. The works offer great opportunities for pantomime and for the dancers to convey the story solely through movement.
This particular piece portrays the balcony scene for the two young lovers, said Mazzarelli. It occurs just after the two teens—16, 17-years-old—have met for the first time at the ball, said Mazzarelli. And they both know because of the rivalry between their two families that their feelings are forbidden.
What’s attractive, said Mazzarelli, is the dancers for the HSO performance are the same ages as their characters. The emotions the characters perform on stage are quite near to what the dancers are feeling.
“And to kiss at the end (of the scene),” said Mazzarelli. “It’s a big deal.”
The music by Prokofiev goes a long way to conveying the story as well, said Mazzarelli. “You hear the tragedy in (the story), and the foreboding,” said Mazzarelli. But you also hear the romance. “It’s love. It’s true love.”
There are two sets of dancers from Nutmeg set to perform with the symphony. They will alternate nights. Alma Evertz and Alexsander Keeperman will perform Thursday, Feb. 11 and Sunday, Feb. 14 and Demeri Sutula and Matanya Solomon will perform Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13. They were selected from a larger pool of dancers before they were tapped for the opportunity, said Mazzarelli.
The dancers were chosen not only for their technical skill, said Mazzarelli, but for their ability to make the movements look effortless.
The pairings were also determined by how well the dancers “fit” with each other, said Mazzarelli. “It just makes sense (the pairings).”
Performing with the symphony will pose a couple of challenges for the dancers, said Mazarelli. First of all, since they will be sharing the stage with the musicians, their performance area will be more confined. They have been preparing for that by taping off a smaller space in their rehearsal studio.
In addition, Mazzarelli said the dancers will have the challenge of performing with a live orchestra rather than just a CD.
With a CD, Mazzarelli said the dancers can anticipate what will happen next because the recording never waivers. But a live performance is different because it may change.
“They have to be musical and listen,” said Mazzarelli “That makes (the performance) that much more exciting.”
The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory will be performing with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra Feb. 11 to 14 at the Belding Theater at The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. Performances are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets start at $35; $10 for students with ID. For tickets, call (860)987-5900 or visit www.hartfordsymphony.org
By MIKE CHAIKEN