by Leah Sottile
Spokane's finest actors, a troupe of professional dancers and a small baroque ensemble have learned how to play nice this year. After years of performing separately, this fall Theatre Ballet of Spokane, Allegro Baroque and a handful of thespians will put on a collaborative production of Henry Purcell's King Arthur on Oct. 15 at the Met.
"Actors, dancers and musicians onstage should be quite exciting," says Dodie Askegard, Theatre Ballet's artistic director.
The semi-operatic production of King Arthur was originally written in 1684 by Purcell, and then combined with compositions by John Dryden. On the 300th anniversary of the play, David Dutton and Beverly Biggs produced King Arthur on a Spokane stage -- and they're doing it again this year.
Dutton and Biggs plan to open both the Allegro and Theatre Ballet seasons with a reproduction of King Arthur befitting Purcell and Dryden's standards, with Sara Donally planning original choreography to the classic score.
The King Arthur collaboration is the first of many new projects taken on by Askegard, Theatre Ballet's new artistic director. The former Spokane Ballet, Aponte & amp; Company and Minneapolis Dance Theater dancer brings years of modern dance experience to the stage. And after having danced in Spokane previously, she says she's no stranger to the area's arts scene.
She's planned shows accordingly. Theatre Ballet will host its first independent event of the season on Oct. 30. Dancers in scary costumes will invade the Met's stage for the first annual Halloween Extravaganza. The event will conjure up all "monsters of ballet" and is suitable for audiences of all ages. Proceeds from the performance will help fund Theatre Ballet's first-ever trip to New York City in early 2005. Askegard says that going to the Big Apple is one of the company's first steps in bringing up their dancers' skill levels.
"We want to give [the dancers] an opportunity to test their wings, and see if we have done our job," she says.
But before they leave, Theatre Ballet plans to present the always popular champagne, chocolate and ballet gala,
Ballet and Bubbly, on New Year's Eve. This year's show will feature new works by Donally and Askegard, as well as an adaptation of Les Patineurs.
"It's a classic, and I'm going to be remounting that work based on what I did as a dancer," Askegard says.
Always trying to bring the finest dancers to Spokane audiences, this year's Ballet and Bubbly will feature the talent of Phaedre Jarrett of the Oakland Ballet, as well as the resident dancers.
With a new artistic director, a collaborative artistic effort and a fresh troupe of apprentice, student and professional dancers, Theatre Ballet is raising the bar this season not only on the local dance scene, but on the ever-growing arts scene as a whole.
Publication date: 09/16/04