Springfield Ballet Company’s ‘Rockballet’ Climbs ‘Stairway’
September 10, 2015
For the last 15 years, Hernan Justo has returned to Springfield as a guest choreographer for the Springfield Ballet Company’s annual production of “Rockballet.”
The artistic director of the Carolina Ballet Theatre in Greenville, S.C., since 2000 after a long career as a professional dancer in his native Argentina and in Chile, Venezuela and in the U.S., the charismatic Justo said he cherishes his yearly visits to Springfield — he’s in love with the Muni Opera — and his relationship with the SBC and its artistic director, Julie Ratz.
“It’s so valuable, the local arts there,” said Justo, in a recent phone interview. “I love the company and I love Julie and I know how much they mean to the community.
An upcoming dance performance will count on much more than applause from the audience. Spectators will also be asked to share their impressions face-to-face.
“Traces” will take place 7:30 Thursday night at the Younts Center for Performing Arts in Fountain Inn.
Madeline Jazz Harvey, the professional dancer and choreographer with the Carolina Ballet Theatre who is behind the performance, said she named the show after what she hopes to achieve with help from the audience.
“I hope to share ‘traces’ of their impressions as I continue to work on these dance pieces and present them again later,” Harvey told WYFF. “I’m trying to shed light on the role that the audience plays in the creative process.”
Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council raised a record of $2 million in 2014, MAC executive director Alan Ethridge announced this week.
Most of that money helps support dozens of Greenville arts groups and artists.
“This allows us to provide record high grants to individuals, arts organizations and arts education programs,” Ethridge said. “It’s groundbreaking.”
Thanks to increases in fundraising, MAC is providing more financial support to local arts organization than ever before, Ethridge said.
Nine local arts organizations will receive $25,000 each in operating support. Those organizations are Artisphere, Carolina Ballet Theatre, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Little Theatre, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Peace Center, the South Carolina Children’s Theatre and the Warehouse Theatre.
If the fanciful world of Carolina Ballet Theatre’s “Nutcracker” seems very familiar, that’s intentional.
CBT’s production of the classic ballet is set right here in Greenville, with backdrops of recognizable landmarks such as the Liberty Bridge in Falls Park.
“The Nutcracker: Once Upon a Time in Greenville” opens tonight with four performances though Sunday at the Peace Center.
“The scenery is downtown Greenville,” said CBT’s artistic director Hernan Justo. “We know the Liberty Bridge was not built in 1890 (when the ballet premiered), but we think the audience will forgive us for that.”
Justo’s production of the ballet, first unveiled last year, includes the familiar music by Tchaikovsky and the traditional “Nutcracker” storyline — about a young girl, Clara, who travels to an enchanted land.
“I’m not changing the traditional choreography by Marius Petipa,” Justo said. “He was a genius.”
But the story is danced against a scenic design that features not only Falls Park but an idealized downtown Greenville Main Street punctuated by a Shoeless Joe Jackson statue.
The production features about 180 dancers in all, with two casts of 90 dancers each, many from CBT’s academy.