A Very Special Production From Southold Dance Theater
As a very young girl, I dipped my toes into the waters of ballet and, fickle like most children, quit a couple of years later to try whatever else my fleeting interests took me. However, I’ve always retained a great appreciation for the dance, instilled in me by my mother, and still enjoy watching a great art such as this on the stage. Such an appreciation puts me in awe of people like Erica Fischbach.
Erica is the artistic director at Southold Dance Theater, a regional training company and the resident dance company of the Morris Performing Arts Center. This month, they are putting on a production of “Giselle” that promises to be captivating and inspiring to audiences of all ages. Says Fischbach, “Preparing for a production like “Giselle” takes about a full year. I started putting scenes together in my mind and on paper, editing music and working with our production staff one year before the first performance. This year I was able to start about six months ahead of time. Even though it is a repeat production this year, the dances are changed slightly to accommodate our kids who keep growing and improving! Giselle has around 130 costumes, over 60 props, a backdrop and two different sets. It is a collaboration of myself, the production team, our instructors, and our many generous volunteers who make our productions possible.”
“Giselle” is, in Erica’s words, “joyful, intriguing, beautiful, heart wrenching and heart-warming all at once. It is the ultimate story of love, deception and forgiveness.”
A recent press release touts the story as, “A favorite of classical ballet fans across the globe, the story of Giselle is a timeless blend of romance, mystery and intrigue. The ballet stars a young peasant girl, Giselle, and turns into a whirlwind story of torn lovers, broken hearts, vengeful spirits and love from beyond the grave. The role of Giselle is considered to be one of the most technically demanding roles in ballet.”
The story is set in a peasant village during the festive time of the grape harvest, where Giselle, who loves to dance, joins her friends in the celebration though she has a weak heart. She falls in love with a newcomer who turns out to be someone else in disguise – the intrigue will not fail to excite! The roles of Giselle and Albrecht will be danced by guest artists Luciana Paris and Roddy Doble from the American Ballet Theatre, and more than 100 young Southold dancers ranging in age from 6 to 19 years old.
Even after working in so many capacities with Southold, Fischbach retains her awe of the dance. When asked about this ballet, she mentions in particular the second act: “Act II of ‘Giselle’ is one of the most physically challenging ballets for the corps de ballet. The role of Myrtha is like running a marathon while holding onto free weights. The jumps and the pure classical lines that the body is required to perfect are quite challenging to say the least!” And she knows a great deal about this ballet. Erica choreographed most of the first act, set true versions of choreography for the second act, rehearsed the 10- to 18-year-olds during the week, and then the younger students from other instructors joined her for a full-cast rehearsal on Saturdays.
Southold is an incredible company. I’ve seen performances of “The Nutcracker Ballet” in the past and have never been disappointed. Fresh beauty graces the stage each night, and their production of “Giselle” will be no different, I assure you. Fischbach says, “I would encourage anyone to come and see our performances, come to our studios, and see what we do. It is amazing and rewarding to teach these children and see the good that dance brings them. They are using their minds and their bodies to improve themselves as people as they learn many skills they will use for life. They are focused and eager to learn more. The atmosphere is happy and positive, and I watch the dancers deal with their daily drama with hugs and their accomplishments with cheers for each other. Dancers have come to me begging for slumber parties at the studio so they don't have to leave!”
Over 200 students, ages three through adult, attend Southold Dance Theater for classes such as ballet, creative movement, combo classes, jazz, modern, tap, hip hop, Pilates, body conditioning and adult ballet.
“Giselle” performs on the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center stage at Notre Dame University Friday, March 16, at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 17 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children. For more information or to order tickets, please call the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center office at 574.631.2800. Be sure, also, to check out Southold Dance Theater online at southolddance.org.