Providentially, as it sometimes happens, I recently stumbled upon the intriguing world of Festival Ballet Providence. Efficiently housed under one roof in an aesthetically unassuming building with a parking lot on one side and a ZipCar depot and bike shop on t’other, it’s directly across from the magnanimous Seven Stars Bakery. Convenience is a marvelous thing. The internationally acclaimed ballet company of choreographers, dancers, teachers, students, artisans, and technicians was preparing for their 37th(!)season. We spoke with Artistic Director Mihailo “Misha” Djuric, about the art of dance, making it and making it all work and making it all happen right here on Hope Street. Where have I been.
40 odd years of living in Providence has sharpened my appreciation of divine intervention, my flair for wide-eyed wonder. I wonder how people arrive on this far-flung speck from some other far-flung speck, cobble together a tribe of like minded achievers, and find the time, talent, discipline, energy and space required to pursue their art, achieve excellence and professional satisfaction. All this, while still managing to live full domestic lives with babies and couches, groceries and utilities, through sickness and health within their supportive community.
Indulge my enthusiasm. Check out the Festival Ballet Providence website. Read their mission statement, the bios, the kudos. Impressed? Stunning really, and Local. How fortuitous. Just in the St. Knick of time.
Novemmmber. Decemmmber. Glooomy, grimmm, drrrizzly, drrrabnesss, and drrreadd. House guests and gifting, teeth all agrit. Grogs and gluttony and guilt, greenbacks aplenty. ‘Tis time to celebrate the Season. Dazzle! Delight! Must entertain them, must make them smile. Do they not call you Auntie. So many hearts to gladden with gladsome gifts galore. Be of what cheer and good will toward folk. As if.
Whence the merry and glitter and brites, the holiday sparkle, the sugar plums (whatever they be)? Stress and anxiety are your aerobics. Angst and ennui your motivation. Try pleasing everybody. Make a list, lose it twice. Go lay thee down.
Sometimes it is better to get than waiting around to receive. Sometimes the best present is the gift one gives oneself. Get on the list. Lift the spirits, drag out the tinsel and “don ye now some gay apparel.” Something festive you thought you might never get the chance to flash. If not now, when? Do something with your hair, or not. Order FBP tickets soon (so convenient) for a performance of Up Close on Hope. Treat your own congenial self to an exhilarating November evening. Cocooned all cozy in a comfy seat in the intimate Black Box Theatre, where every seat really is the best in the house. Fully engaged in the moment, immersed in the transcendent beauty of music and motion. Breathe deep. Imagine the body you could be in if you practiced rigorously 2 hours a day for the past/next 30 years. During intermission share the experience with other wildly interesting citizens in the audience. Chat, mingle, revivify. Think about getting a subscription or signing up for lessons. Outside, out of sight and mind the little drummer bangs de drums, bangs de drums.
Let the festivities commence. Plan ahead. Fair heirs duty in November? Bring your little pouters to the ChatterBoxTheatre for an enchanting sunday afternoon performance of Peter and the Wolf. The interactive score cleverly incorporates different styles of dance, providing a delightfully accessible introduction to this “most human art.” Kindle an interest. Enrichment is your role, your duty. Keep FBP ‘s schedule at hand just in case you should be called upon to show unwowable house guests a good time. Show off. Show them Hope and all the trimmings. Show them a fluke of fates which defines Providence. Make them wish they were lucky enuff to live here.
Not to appear Scrooge McDuckish, but for the price of a badly screened Tshirt, and a hastily wrapped box of cheap thrills, you can gift your footbrawler, gymnast, hip hopper, skater (roller, ice, board), and channel surfer with a fabulous evening of pure awesome entertainment. Give them something to talk about, marvel even, and later thank you for. Give them tickets to “The Nutcracker,” a beloved holiday tradition which has delighted audiences since 1892. Nobody doesn’t enjoy a good nutcracker, especially one so grand and glorious. Brilliantly performed by Festival Ballet Providence and presented in the restored gilt and splendor of the Providence Performing Arts Center. Go ahead invite some real hard-to-pleasers, some real cool catties. Folk so cool that if they happened to pass the Statue of Liberty herself, they wouldn’t deign to look up and take a selfie. Now that I’m thinking about it, bring on the elders. No cleverly complicated dialogue or long winded soliloquies to befuddle or further aggravate the hard of hearing. Purely an opportunity to witness perfection of the physical body, the disciplined serendipity of skill, will and rhythm. Gifts so easy to order, to bow and bestow. Yes. Give tickets to all and to all a jolly good night.
Some gifters prefer to give after they’ve received and as we veer towards 2015 let’s try to stay high on that hope. When agonizing over various tax deductible charitable organizations while itemizing deductions on schedule C tax returns, consider sending a donation to the Festival Ballet Providence scholarship fund. Nurture the Arts. If you can afford to be generous, Do. Give the gift of dance and help a devoted young dancer pursue their passion for the good of it all.
FESTIVAL BALLET PROVIDENCE PERFORMANCES:
• The thirty-seventh season runs Nov. 1, 2014 through April 25, 2015. Subscriptions and individual tickets are now on sale. Visit festivalballetprovidence.org for more information.
• The popular Up Close on Hope series, taking place in FBP’s Black Box Theater, offers three different programs to be presented in November, February and April. In describing Up Close on Hope, Mr. Djuric said, “We’re really trying to highlight the fact that everything we do here is ŒMade on Hope Street, which has been our home for 14 years.” The eclectic neighborhood provides a fitting backdrop for the mix of contemporary and classical pieces that each program showcases. Mr. Djuric said, “The entire process, from casting to rehearsal to performance occurs right here; it’s really the ultimate local experience. As an added convenience, FBP now offers online ticketing for Black Box Theatre events.
• FBP’s children’s series chatterBOXtheatre returns with Peter and the Wolf, back by popular demand. This lively staging of Prokofiev’s endearing, interactive score incorporates different styles of dance into the choreography for each character.
• A highlight of the season is JuxtaPOSE, a double-bill featuring two masterworks (one classical, one contemporary), in breathtaking opposition one another. “The Rhode Island premiere of Études, a tour de force of classicism and technical prowess, will be a treat for Rhode Island audiences,” Mr. Djuric said. I am very pleased that my countryman, dear friend and colleague Radenko Pavlovich, former Soloist with American Ballet Theatre and current Artistic Director of Colombia Classical Ballet, will come to stage this exciting ballet for our dancers. The evening will also feature the long-awaited return of Viktor Plotnikov’s Coma, which FBP’s company performed most recently to critical acclaim at the Belgrade International Dance Festival in 2011.
PROVIDENCE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
220 Weybosset St., Providence, RI 02903
Tickets: 401-421-ARTS; ppacri.org
THE NUTCRACKER ~ A timeless holiday tradition
Friday, December 19, 2014 at 8PM
Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 2PM
Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 7PM
Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 1:30PM
All three Up Close on Hope programs: $132
Add chatterBOXtheatre, JuxtaPOSE at 14%-15% discount.
Add Nutcracker for access to the best seating areas.
Subscriptions are on sale now; Contact Dylan Giles at 401.654.6662 to order subscriptions.