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Home arrow Older News Archive arrow Dark Side Of The Moon ballet this weekend
Dark Side Of The Moon ballet this weekend Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Thursday, 10 February 2005

This weekend, there is an unusual event happening in Fresno, California, for any Pink Floyd fans in the area. The Fresno Ballet are staging a special show using the music from Dark Side Of The Moon as the basis of their inspiration.

The Fresno Bee gives full details of the event, which runs until tomorrow evening (Saturday 12th), at 7:30pm at the Severance Fresno Ballet School. In a lengthly article headed: "Fresno Ballet: Against the Wall - dancers push tutus aside as they move in unexpected directions to the music of Pink Floyd", the piece talks of how their music was selected, and how it might save the company from its financial issues:

If you haven't figured it out by now, this isn't your grandfather's ballet. "It's stretching the boundaries as far as movement for the dancers," Doyle says. "It's still really ballet based, the bulk of it, but I would say the style has a lot more modern and jazz influence to it."

Much of the short program -- which will be performed in an informal studio setting in six performances over two weekends -- is choreographed to selections from "Dark Side of the Moon." And for those fans whose Pink Floyd experience wouldn't be complete without a nod to "The Wall," several songs from that album also will be featured.

Those who might be wishing for earplugs can rest assured, however; Pink Floyd's music includes some more contemplative (and softer) moments as well.

"If I had 40 minutes of this," Doyle says, indicating the wailing chords of "Money," "I'm sure I would clear the place out. The good thing about Pink Floyd is there's quite a mix."

If all this sounds like a calculated attempt to broaden the appeal of ballet beyond its classical image -- and draw in a younger crowd that normally would turn up its nose at what they perceive as an art form built on tights and tutus -- you'd be right. Doyle sat down a year ago and contemplated what kind of rock ballet he could choreograph that could appeal to the largest possible demographic.

Pink Floyd, the legendary psychedelic rock band, met the criteria. It's an enduring group with a multigenerational appeal. Dancer Sean Tomerlin remembers that his parents used to play the music when he was a little boy -- and that when he got older, he got hooked on it, too.

Doyle, who emphasizes that he didn't come up with the concept of a rock ballet -- there's a long and storied tradition of performing them among ballet companies trying to drum up new audiences -- says he knew he'd picked the right group by the company's reaction.

"From the youngest person in the company to the oldest person on the board, they were, like, 'Pink Floyd. Great!' "

"From the very first song on 'Dark Side of the Moon' to the last one, I started thinking, 'This is perfect for a rock ballet,' " Doyle says.

For the dancers, it's been a different experience. In classical ballet, your torso is mostly stationary. Sometimes you arch, but mostly you're upright and straight. In modern dance, your spine and torso bends a lot more. Everything is more off balance. For a classically trained dancer, it's a challenging way to work -- especially when the women go up on point.

Then there are the songs themselves. Jill Buettner admits she doesn't listen much to the lyrics. For her, the songs evoke surprisingly strong emotions -- from anger in "Hey You" to contemplative melancholy in "Time." She finds herself in rehearsal caught up in the crashing beat and the wailing score. "It's all about the music," she says.

In the rehearsal studio, "Money" continues to blare. It's an appropriate selection. This season hasn't been an easy one for Fresno Ballet. After scaling down both its fall and winter series concerts -- which have been held in the past at Veterans Memorial Auditorium -- Doyle made a well-publicized appeal at December's "Nutcracker" performances for much-needed funds, citing a $50,000 deficit out of the company's annual $250,000 budget.

In the meantime, however, Doyle is trying to ignore all the money talk for now. He's looking forward to reaching out to new audiences with his rock ballet. It's been an interesting experience for him to expose himself to a different kind of music in the name of art -- and in the name of widening the ballet's audience base.

"I was surprised," he says of Pink Floyd. "I think the music is very good. It's interesting. I guess that's why they've lasted so long."

Tickets are priced at $12 (buy four, get one free), and more details can be obtained from calling (559) 233-2623. Our thanks to George Mendoza for letting us know about this event.

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