On Friday evening, The Met will be the cosmic arena for the dance of original creation. The introduction of the four natural elements -- earth, water, air and fire--will be represented in Rebel's baroque ballet, The Elements, a piece that seeks to imitate nature through the fusion of music and dance.
The "Dance Baroque IV " concert opens the new season for Allegro: Baroque and Beyond series. The evening will feature Allegro's baroque ensemble of strings, winds and harpsichord. In the second portion of the program, the ensemble will be joined by a group of guest dancers from Theatre Ballet of Spokane.
Beverly Biggs acts along with David Dutton as artistic director of Allegro: "What could be more delightful than baroque music, based in dance? " asks Biggs, who decided to open with this particular concert because of its popularity. "Your toes tap in your shoes when you hear it even without dancers, and to add to that mix the dancers from Theatre Ballet--it makes for a magic evening. "
The Elements was written by the French composer Jean-F & eacute;ry Rebel in 1737 during a time when the imitation of nature was considered the fount of artistic truth. In composing the ballet, Rebel -- who composed for the French king during his lifetime (1661-1747) -- sought to depict the creation of the world, its chaotic beginning and its movement into an imposed pattern. Biggs says the piece is based in this question: "What would chaos have been like in a musical representation? "
The introduction of The Elements depicts fundamental chaos. Gradually, this disorder and fiery momentum lose force as the four elements are introduced, order is imposed, and harmony claims the end of the overture.
Dancers will illustrate the movement of the various elements as they come into being throughout Rebel's composition.
While baroque music is by nature subtler than modern music, "the movement for the ballet is very contemporary, " says Peggy Goodner-Tan, who directs Theatre Ballet of Spokane and choreographed the dance portion of the concert. This is her fourth collaboration with Allegro. "The choreography is very classically balletic, but it's also based on modern dance, with very rounded shapes and flowing movements. "
Goodner-Tan, who has directed Theatre Ballet for 13 years, designed the costumes for the performance with a contemporary style. The dancers representing the element of water, for example, will wear long, flowing chiffon dresses in various blues and aquas.
"Their particular dance is very lyrical, " says Goodner-Tan, "while fire looks dramatically different -- sharper -- with a series of leaps and turns. I have them moving in and out of each others' patterns and spaces. "
Before the evening performance begins, David Dolata of Eastern Washington University will lead a talk to provide a historical context for the music to come. Dolata, who teaches music history and holds a doctorate in historical performance practice, hopes the lecture will "enrich the musical experience of those attending the concert. "
The talk will focus on baroque dance -- how dance notation gets from the page down to the feet -- the societal role and relationship of music and dance during the 1700s, as well as the performance and interpretation of baroque music itself. Though the performance can be readily appreciated for the beauty of the dance and the drama of the music, understanding a little about the historical background adds a different dimension to the experience.
"The more they know, " says Dolata of the audience, "the more they'll appreciate what goes into the performance. "
Besides Rebel's The Elements, the program will feature Tomaso Albinoni's D major Oboe Concerto and a serenade for winds by J. F. Fasch.
"With these concerts -- both in The Met and in historic homes in the area -- we want to create the type of experience that audience members would have had during the baroque and classical period, " says Biggs. "Our goal is to make the concerts as fun as going to the neighbor's living room for a terrific, intimate experience with music. "
& & & lt;i & The concert begins at 8 pm, Friday, Oct. 13, with a pre-concert talk at 7:15 pm, at The Met, 901 W. Sprague Ave. Tickets: $8-$18. Call: 325-SEAT. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &