Richmond Ballet’s Carmina Burana to be a distinct and stunning marvel
The Richmond Ballet is honored to announce the performance one of their most prevailing and prestigious works, Carmina Burana.
Richmond Ballet’s rendition was choreographed by John Butler in 1959, and compliments the monumental musical score by Carl Orff. Both works are fundamentally based on “contraband” texts written by monks during the thirteenth century.
With my exclusive interview with Company dancers, Lauren Fagone and Phillip Skaggs, I got to experience the evolution of this complex and intense ballet. With its rich history, dense emotion, and intense movement, I now understand why Butler’s Carmina Burana is not only remarkable to the ballet world, but profoundly significant for the members of the Richmond Ballet.
Fagone plays a key role in Carmina Burana and describes Butler’s choreography as “innovative, and beautifully haunting.” His passionate and notable choreography will be accompanied by the Richmond Symphony and Richmond Symphony Chorus at the Carpenter Theater Halloween weekend.
Because of the personal and professional affiliations with Butler, Carmina Burana holds a very special place for the company.
Skaggs, equally key in the Carmina Burana production, and said he faces a “huge responsibility” to carry on the purity of Butler’s work.
This is particularly singular for Ballet Master Malcom Burn, and Artistic Director for the Richmond Ballet Stoner Winslett. Winslett is also the President of the John Butler foundation, which strives to preserve and maintain his extraordinary artistry.
Burn has been with the Richmond ballet for twenty six years, and has personally worked with John Butler and his choreography in the past.
I also got the privilege of observing Burn’s rehearsal and he not only revealed his fun and enrapturing character, but proved his expertise with Butler’s choreography; making small but significant alternations, but concentrating on the clear-cut angles and distinct shapes which signify Butler’s work.
From the start of this rehearsal, I quickly grasped how unique and sensational this ballet truly is. Orff’s prominent musical score is overpowering and undeniably distinguishable. Rehearsal was also enveloped by the powerfully evocative voices of soloists Bethany Baxter, David Artz, and Kevin Wetzel.
Their voices soared through the air and completely consumed the studio, making rehearsal a truly surreal, captivating, and emotional experience. Their presence along with the full Chorus and live symphony will surely amaze and awake all emotion.
Orff’s classically fanatical music coupled with Butler’s impassioned choreography will faithfully provoke the soul, and overwhelm the senses.
Both Fagone and Skaggs have danced Carmina Burana numerous times, but explained their anticipation, response, and experience are never dulled, but rather sharpened. Fagone said she has evolved her interpretation by weaving herself into Butler’s work, enhancing her performance with her personal revelations and connections to the work.
Skaggs hopes his audience “goes along with the ride,” stressing that Carmina Burana is unforgiving, and every emotion and every touch must be real. Carmina Burana is beautifully powerful, purely unique, and will undeniably exceed all expectations.
Nicole has been dancing since early childhood and can't get enough. You can find her salsa dancing at Havana 59 or tango dancing at the Vmfa. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from VCU and strives to keep the arts alive! She loves all things lavender, pugs, and crisp weather.
As far and as deep as Le Sacre du Printemps goes, the company’s visual elements were stellar.April 14, 2016
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