The Week of January 18 - Belteshazzar Premiere in Five Weeks Last week, the Ballet 5:8 company spent a good amount of time in Act I of Belteshazzar. The beginning of the ballet, this section introduces Daniel and a few other main characters.
If you have ever watched a story ballet, you know that many of them begin with a "village" or "town" scene, a typically happy section of the ballet with many of the cast members on stage, featuring a series of larger dances interspersed with solos, duets, and other dances. If you are a ballet aficionado, you may not have thought about this before, but if you are not a frequent ballet-goer, you may have wondered, why so much dancing? The story doesn't necessarily move forward here, so what is the purpose? Isn't this supposed to be a story ballet?
If you have ever read a good story or novel, the introduction to a narrative ballet may begin to make a little more sense. In a novel, the author will likely spend the first few chapters introducing you, the reader, to the context of the story. The author will use a combination of dialogue and description to begin to let you in on the answers to the most important questions about a story: who, what, where, and when. Without this, there is a big chance of you getting to the main conflict or climax in the story and either being very confused, or at the very least, indifferent toward these characters that you know nothing about!
Similarly, the introduction of a ballet allows the dancers and the audience a little time to, in a sense, "get to know each other." Even though the story may not be moving forward at this point, by watching the dancing and observing the costumes, you should be able to identify who the main characters are, what relationships they have toward one another, and a little about each of their personalities. It is here that we, as the audience, can begin to develop something of a relationship with the characters. Then, when the story begins to unfold, we have an interest in what is happening and have a better chance of understanding what is going on.
We had a great time creating the introduction for Belteshazzar last week - here are some snippets.