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Great Falls Symphony opens 57th season with ‘Sleeping Beauty’ featuring Eugene Ballet Company

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Pure beauty in motion. That’s what you’ll see this weekend at the Mansfield Theater in Great Falls.

The Great Falls Symphony Orchestra, together with the Eugene Ballet Company, performs Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s massive “Sleeping Beauty” ballet. It will feature a complex set of moves mixing the past with the present in a way that might not ever be seen again. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., on Saturday.

Toni Pimble, creative director with the Eugene Ballet Company, said in an exclusive interview with Big Sky State Buzz that they’re thrilled to get the chance to perform this piece with the Great Falls symphony and provide their talents to our local audience.

“It’s always wonderful to have an orchestra around the stage,” she said. “It makes a big difference for the dancers, it’s very energizing.”

Pimble also said there will be several local student-dancers participating in the show on Saturday, joining the experienced company dancers from across the globe.

The 25 professional dancers will be joined by students from Miss Linda’s Studio Center for this performance.  As has become the custom, local dance students will have the thrill of a lifetime as they perform on stage with the Orchestra and Eugene Ballet Company under the direction of Linda Fuller and her staff.

“I think it’s wonderful for those young students to get that opportunity to perform on stage with our company dancers. I’m sure for many of those young dancers it’s very inspiring and it’s a great chance to learn from true professionals,” Pimble said.

She added this show will be the first one featuring several of the new costumes designed specifically for this tour. She said due to wear and tear, they’ve got 40 new costumes they’ll be breaking in here in the Electric City.

“The costumes do have a shelf life because they get a lot of use,” she said. “We’ve replaced about 40 costumes in all and the time periods they’re set in are widely diverse. Between the prologue and act one you move 100 years. You go from the late Renaissance and move into the 18th century.”

The Eugene Ballet Company gears up for the trip to Great Falls.
The Eugene Ballet Company gears up for the trip to Great Falls.

One of the costumes from that era should be particularly stunning to see, she added.

“In the third act, the “Celebration” act, you’ll see a brand new costume. So, if you saw the movie ‘The Dutchess,’ and you remember the costume Georgiana wears — it’s very ornate and sprawling. Well, that’s exactly the kind of dress that you’ll get to see for the very first time there in Great Falls.”

The choreography, put together by Pimble, includes techniques that originated in the early 1800s when the show first debuted, as well, she said.

“When Tchaikovsky wrote ‘Sleeping Beauty’ he was working with Marius Petipa at the time so all of the variations and themes he wrote were designed specifically for ballet,” she said. “So while I choreographed all of the stages, much of the ballet is intact with original choreography. We work with the original choreography and then add to that, so from a historical standpoint, it’s an interesting ballet to see in that respect because you’re getting to see how it was done back in 1819.”

She said perhaps more than nearly any other art form, ballet is pure beauty in motion and that anyone, no matter your age or taste in music, can find something to enjoy while watching it.

“It’s classical ballet technique so in that respect it’s very beautiful to watch, especially when it’s done well,” Pimble said.

One of the largest companies in the west, the Eugene Ballet Company is, in the words of the National Endowment for the Arts, “one of the premier touring ballet companies in the United States”.

Over its 30 year plus existence, the company has performed 32 states and 7 countries.  Eugene Ballet Company features a cast full of nationally and internationally acclaimed dancers. Dancers in the company have performed with such companies as Ballet Nacional de Caracas, Tulsa Ballet Theatre, American Repertory Ballet, Hartford Ballet, Ballet Internationale, Lexington Ballet, Nevada Ballet, The Ukrainian National Opera and Ballet Theater, in Kiev and at The Chelyabinsk Academic Opera and Ballet Theater in Russia along with the Stars of the Bolshoi, and Moscow City Ballet.

Admission to Saturday’s show is $34.50 or $44.50 for adults, $15 for students. You can get tickets online at ticketing.greatfallsmt.net or by calling 455-8514 before 6 p.m., on Friday.

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