Friday, June 8, through Sunday, June 10, 8 p.m.
Lincoln Park, 11th Avenue & 38th Street, Rock Island IL
Performing June 8 through 10, company members of Ballet Quad Cities bring their annual, eagerly awaited presentations of Ballet Under the Stars vignettes back to Rock Island's Lincoln Park. But this year, as Artistic Director Courtney Lyon explains, the outdoor stage will also be filled with many additional area talents sharing the spotlight with her company's professional dancers.
Last summer, says Lyon, “We were thinking about what a cool place Lincoln Park was to perform in, and how great it is to have a no-admission-charge performance, and what a neat experience Ballet Under the Stars is for community members of all ages, and we thought, 'We should try to get more artists involved next year.'
“So this year,” she continues, “we'll of course have some of the professional dancers from Ballet Quad Cities, and some of our really talented, high-level students from Ballet Quad Cities School of Dance. One of the things they're doing is an excerpt from La Bayadêre, which is a full-length ballet with very formal, classical music.
“But in addition to that, we have elementary students from our DREAMS outreach program performing on Friday night. On Saturday and Sunday, we have dancers from Ballet Folklorico performing with us. And then on Sunday we have the Imani Dancers. Dorian Byrd, the leader of Imani, actually set an African piece on our students this spring. So her dancers will be performing on Sunday, but the African piece that she choreographed on her students will be performed every night.
“We're getting new, different flavors of dance on stage,” says Lyon, “and we're hoping to get some hip-hop and tap and jazz on-stage, too. It's a lot of different groups represented – with a huge range of ages, dance styles, and ethnic styles – and it's going to be really, really cool.”
Ballet Quad Cities itself, meanwhile, will present three pieces of its own. One of them, Lyon says, “is the only piece in this Ballet Under the Stars that's been performed before, called On the Run. It was performed in Defining Dance in April, and it has choreography by Emily Kate Long, and it's Johann Strauss music – a waltz, the Pizzicato Polka, and the Radetzky March that a lot of people are familiar with. We have company members and students performing, and the dancers are in tennis shoes, and they dance with hula hoops, skateboards, scooters … . It's all about athletics and it's really, really fun – it's not a spoof, but it's really humorous. Audiences loved it.”
And Lyon herself is choreographing two original works for the 75-minute Ballet Under the Stars, both of them inspired by the forthcoming French Moderns exhibition on display at the Figge Art Museum this fall. “A lot of people and groups in the area are really plugging into that exhibit,” says Lyon, “because it's a really great way to bring the community together – a common focus that lets us use all of our skill sets.”
In one of her two pieces, says Lyon, “I'm using Debussy's 'Clair de Lune,' which is French for 'moonlight,' and it's inspired by the mystery of the moonlight with [company members] Lauren Carmen, Aubrey Clayton, and Mika Ward dressed in white like moonbeams. It's really impressionistic and beautiful, and I was just really wanting to do this piece in the park at night.
“And the other piece,” Lyon continues, “is also by Dubussy. It's called 'Cake Walk,' and it's also performed by Lauren, Aubrey, and Mika, and it's got great energy to it. So I'm using it to represent the energy of Paris' Moulin Rouge at the turn of the century. That feeling of fun, flirtiness, how the Moulin Rouge was a hub for the arts in Paris, how that inspired poets and performers … .
“I mean, I'm not really getting that much done in three minutes,” says Lyon with a laugh, “but the spirit of all that inspired the piece.”
Admission to the 8 p.m. Ballet Under the Stars performances June 8 through 10 are free, though donations are encouraged, and more information is available by calling (309)786-3779 or visiting BalletQuadCities.com.