Combine the Columbia Orchestra and Towson University Community Dance, and you have an afternoon full of the best of the arts. “The Firebird and Other Heroic Tales” at the Gordon Center is a feast for the eyes and ears. The concert/ballet has beautiful music, great costumes, and some interesting stories to tell.
Greg Jukes narrates the hour-long show. The show starts with the orchestra playing a rousing rendition of the “Prelude to Carmen” by Georges Bizet. Jukes briefly explains the story – how Carmen is in love with Escamillo, a bullfighter (or toreador). From there, the orchestra plays ‘Symphony Number 1’ by Mahler, which was inspired by a children’s woodcut. Jukes encourages the audience to sing ‘Are you Sleeping?’ and then demonstrates how Mahler’s symphony plays the same song in a minor chord. The audience is broken into three parts and sings the ‘Are you Sleeping?’ in rounds. Participation from the audience is a nice touch and makes everyone feel a part of the performance.
…an afternoon full of the best of the arts.
After Mahler, Jukes introduces music from the movies with the orchestra’s rendition of ‘Star Wars.’ Since Jukes has shown that stories can be told through opera, the movies, and the symphony, he moves on to how stories are told through ballet. In this case, the ballet is ‘The Firebird,” which centers on the journey of its hero, Prince Ivan (Drew Baurle). While hunting in the opulent orchard of Kaschei (Sydney Samson), Ivan sees an enchanting light in the forest. It’s the Firebird (Margaret King), and Ivan successfully captures her after pursuing the Firebird through the night. In exchange for the bird’s release, Ivan is given a feather which he can use someday to summon the Firebird.
Ivan then meets princesses (Caroline Bailey, Hailey Dax, Gabriela Pascoe, Alison Sassano, Kaya Thiessen, Tess Moayedi) and falls in love with one of them (Anabel Saba). Kaschei sends his army of goblins, and Ivan and Kaschei are locked in battle until Ivan reveals the red feather. The Firebird appears to help Ivan, and Ivan and the princess are married.
The dancers in ‘The Firebird’ are outstanding. The goblins look menacing with their green faces, black wigs, and green full body leotards. They dance around the stage on all fours, threatening Ivan. The sinister green goblins are juxtaposed with the princesses, who are all beauty and light. With long, flowing white dresses, these dancers seem to glide around the stage. The Firebird is strong and able, with her red leotard and feathers. She’s the one who’s able to save Ivan from Kaschei’s minions.
With outstanding performances from the orchestra and dancers, this is an excellent introduction to the arts for all ages. The variety of the show makes it all the more interesting. To top off the festivities, the Baltimore Dance Education had a giveaway of ‘The Firebird’ book, written by dancer Misty Copeland, so children can continue to appreciate the ballet.
Running Time: 1 hour with no intermission.
“The Firebird and Other Heroic Tales” at the Gordon Center played only on Sunday, April 2, 2017. For more information about the Gordon Center, click here.