Verb had planned on performing Pas da Dix as part of our Lakeside Chautauqua program the summer of 2020 with the Lakeside Symphony but was canceled due to the pandemic. Once the company resumed the work restaged and live stream on the Classical Variations program in 2021. VThe ballet opens with the ensemble in beautiful radiant tutus, full of spirited czardas rhythms. Both directors Dr. Margaret Carlson and Richard Dickinson, MFA have danced this challenging ballet and are pleased to bring this classic to the company repertory. Read about the memories this piece brings back for them.
Dr. Margaret Carlson, Producing Artistic Director
What did you like about the role?
I have always wanted to add Raymonda’s Wedding to Verb’s vast repertory because it was one of my most beloved roles in my dance career. I performed the lead role of Raymonda, that you will see on Friday night, with the original Cleveland Ballet in the 1970s. I began as one of the corps couples and later went into a principal role where I partnered with Cleveland Ballet co-founder, Dennis Nahat. My favorite section that I performed was the solo variation that was created by Dennis. I felt that his version really captured the feeling of a young princess on her wedding night with the fears, anticipation, and passion.
What is your fondest memory of the piece?
Our first performance was at the old Cleveland Playhouse church theater. The stage did not have a cross over space for the dancers to walk behind. To get to the other side we had to crawl through a small dirty space under the stage. The wardrobe person would meet us at our exit, throw a big sheet over us, then we both would have to crawl on our hands and knees to cross under the stage. All the while making sure the sheet stayed on us so the costumes weren’t ruined!
Then and now, it seems the dancers will be performing this work with the orchestra this summer and the beauty of this classic will shine on.
Richard Dickinson, MFA, Associate Artistic Director
When did you first perform Raymonda?
It was my first season with Chicago Ballet in 1977, under the directorship of Ruth Page and Frederick Franklin, icons of the dance world. I wanted to impress them, as much as possible! They had brought in the choreographer Eugene Tanner from New York City Ballet to stage the ballet, “Raymonda Pas de Dix” on us. It was a great experience, working on such a high level of intensity and artistry, with these major artists that knew how to coax more technique and “joie de vivre” out of us. I learned so much from that experience. I was too star struck and focused to make any memories.
What did you enjoy most about the role?
The men are asked to perform some tricky partnering and demanding technical feats, while looking like it’s a piece of cake, a “no problem, I can do this.” attitude.
As a dancer what was the biggest challenge in this role?
There is a dance for the 4 corps men- it requires you to do consecutive double tours (a jump into the air and two turns around before you land) while all the way downstage (towards the audience). You are front and center and cannot make any technical errors, otherwise the audience will notice. Terrifying….
What are you looking forward to with this piece with a live orchestra?
Live music is where it is at. It makes the dance spontaneous, energetic, alive and sparkle with nuances.
Photo: Kolman Rosenberg
Inside the Studio
Verb had planned on performing Pas da Dix as part of our Lakeside Chautauqua program the summer of 2020 with the Lakeside Symphony but was canceled due to the pandemic. Once the company resumed the work it was restaged and live streamed on the Classical Variations program in 2021. The company interviews capture the challenges of staging this work during the time of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Raymonda Ballet
The tale of Raymonda is a Russian ballet performed in three acts originally choreographed by Marius Petipa in 1898 to music by Alexander Glazunov. Today, the Raymonda Ballet is still performed by many ballet companies throughout the world. The story is based on Count Jean de Brienne (a knight), betrothed to Raymonda (a young Hungarian noblewoman), who abandons her to join the Crusades against the Saracens. The ballet is famous for its Grand Pas Classique known as the Grand Pas Classique Hongrois or Raymonda Pas de Dix from the third Act, which is often extracted from the full-length work to be performed independently. The third act is the wedding of the two happy lovers as the castle celebrates their marriage in an explosion of merriment. Together, this all creates the image of a heroine who embodies the many facets of womanhood. The piece will feature the virtuosity of the dancers with technique, grace, beauty of line and absolute skill.