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Old And New: Two Who Focus On The Old

two dancers

The IU Ballet Theater's Spring offering is "Ballet Old and New" with works by two great masters, Bournonville and Balanchine"

The Balanchine pieces are The Four Temperments with music by Paul Hindemith and The Western Symphony to arrangements by Hershey Kay.

The Bournonville pieces staged by guest Kerina Elvar are presented as a suite with music of Helsted and Gade.

Elvar's first ballet was by Bournonville. "I came to the Royal Danish Ballet when I was nine years old. In Les Sylphides I danced the little girl," recalls Elvar. After a long career, that included ballets by Bournonville and George Balanchine, she's now teaching the Bournonville style and staging his pieces. "Bournonville has been close to my heart since I was accepted as an apprentice into the Royal Danish Ballet," she says.

Elvar is very complimentary about IU sophomore Melissa Meng who's one of the featured dancers.  "She is a fantastic inspiring dancer for me. Her part is a mirror dance in La Ventana.  The senorita is thinking about her love, the romantic feelings inside her. She has to be deep. She has to go so much into herself. She has to act and at the same time do very difficult Bournonville technique on the stage. I picked Melissa because she has a very deep kind of expression, the fire inside of the warm woman."

Like Elvar, IU's Meng has danced in the Balanchine style. Last summer she attended a program at Chautauqua that focused on Balanchine.  "I'm finding that the Bournonville is much more about expression, about emotion and acting, whereas with the Ballanchine it was more just about showing the style. I think the biggest challenge for me in this piece is trying to find a Spanish girl inside me," Meng says with a laugh. "I want to show her off and show her life and how much she's enjoying it and how she's in love and how much fun she's having all at the same time!"

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