In Anne Arundel, company strives for gourmet ballet

Dance: Three short performances round out troupe's spring season.

Howard Live


April 03, 2003|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Ballet Theatre of Maryland plans an exciting program of dance for April 12 and 13 at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Live music will accompany each ballet segment, "Bagatelles," "The Rite of Spring" and "Postcard from Vienna."

Choreographer Alex Ossadnik, 34, calls his program "a menu of ballets with a Bagatelle appetizer to tease, a substantial Stravinsky entree, and a rich creamy Viennese dessert to end the dinner."

Voicing his preference for live music, Ossadnik said, "Dancing to live music instead of a recording is like having a fresh-cooked meal over one that is microwaved, where art simply doesn't happen." As for seasonings, Ossadnik promises "nothing obvious, we will twist things around and make each dance into something unexpected."

Introduced in February when Ballet Theatre of Maryland participated in Baltimore's Vivatcelebration, Ossadnik proved popular with his provocative Nijinsky ballet. He returns to the company as the spring program's choreographer.

Life-long pursuit

A native of the East German town of Erfurt, where he began to study dance at age 8, Ossadnik recalls wanting to choreograph early on and leaving home soon after the Berlin Wall came down.

He became a principal dancer with the Ballet Theater of Bordeaux in France and with the National Theater in Germany, where he choreographed a number of ballets.

After dancing as a guest artist with several touring companies in the United States, Ossadnik was appointed director of the Santa Fe Festival Ballet in 1996, where he also choreographed a number of dances. A resident of Charleston, S.C., Ossadnik collaborates with friends and teaches dance in New Mexico and Texas.

Dancers as `paint'

For the past month, he has worked in Annapolis choreographing the ballets and rehearsing the dancers.

"About two weeks before opening night when my work is finished, I lose it and it belongs to the dancers. There will be the instant gratification as it is twisted around as the dancers become the paint on the canvas," Ossadnik said of this period.

In the creative process, he said, "I'm the vehicle. It's not me - the ideas come from above. With the `Bagatelles,' I didn't know what I would do, and then I saw dancers moving backward, and it came to me."

The first act will feature abstract classical dances, with music by Antonin Dvorak played by a string trio and danced by Christi Bleakly, Sarah Cincotta, Kelly Hoenig, Jaime Lawton, Robert Michalski and Anmarie Touloumis.

"The Rite of Spring," featuring the original two-piano version of Igor Stravinsky's music, will be played by pianists Stef Scaggiari and Jacquelyn Helin. Dancers will include Touloumis, Lawton, Bleakly and Cincotta, with principal dancer Bat-Erdene Udval.

"The idea springs from the harsh, percussive music in a set of pagan dances that are all about domination and the individual over the group," Ossadnik said. He likens Udval to "an animal trainer dominating a stable of women until the second part, where the roles are reversed with the animals discovering their own strength."

Ossadnik promises "tons of schmaltz, but not a single waltz step" for the third segment, "Postcard from Vienna," featuring the whole company dancing to works by Johann Strauss with Scaggiari on the piano, Helin on the harmonium and a string quartet of Baltimore Chamber Orchestra musicians.

Information: 410-263-2909

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