Highlights: College Ensembles Perform Together, on Separate Stages

By David Corriveau

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-24-2018 12:05 AM

In Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka, a diabolical puppetmaster called The Charlatan shows no mercy while pulling the strings of the doomed title protagonist.

To pull off their modern adaptation at the Hopkins Center this weekend, the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble and the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra are relying on tools far more high-tech than marionette wires: While 15 ensemble members perform the ballet in the Hop’s Moore Theater, to live audio of the music that the 65-member orchestra is playing at the other end of the complex in Spaulding Auditorium, the dancers will appear in real time on a wide screen in Spaulding through simulcast technology.

“It’s very involved,” orchestra director Filippo Ciabatti said last week. “I have done recently a Don Giovanni at the Lyric Theater @ Illinois that was quite technological, but nothing like this.”

The collaboration on Petrushka is the culmination of dance ensemble co-directors John Heginbotham and Rebecca Stenn’s effort of almost four years to collaborate with the orchestra.

“We always wanted to work with musicians on our spring show, and had asked Filippo about incorporating some of the orchestra’s violinists,” Stenn recalled this week. “He would always apologize and say, ‘We perform on the same night, year after year.’ ”

Finally, during a conversation over drinks last spring, Stenn asked Ciabatti what work he would most like to tackle together if they could find a way. Ciabatti immediately cited the orchestral dance that the Ballet Russes premiered at Paris’ Theatre du Chate let,  with Michel Fokine as choreographer, in June 1911.

Petrushka is a special work,” Ciabatti said. “It is kind of a hybrid, coming between Stravinsky’s Firebird — which is more of a Western-world piece — and The Rite of Spring, which is the culmination of his Russian style. It’s the first attempt that Stravinsky made to make a Russian ballet.

“It’s also a very movie-like piece. … Every moment, the scene moves in a different direction, and so the music is very fragmented. And the story itself, between a puppet and humans, is a very fascinating story, very modern.”

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Stenn and Ciabatti find the story behind the story equally intriguing. Stravinsky, Fokine, librettist Alexandre Benois, Ballet Russes founder Serge Diaghilev and dancer Vaslav Nijinsky all were living and working in exile in Paris, and for the audience of the day, “it was a brand new, exciting, scary thing,” Stenn said.

While the shock of the new wore off Stravinsky’s ballet decades ago — the ensembles are updating a 1947 version — the technical challenges of the simultaneous performances added an element of novelty. The Hopkins Center lacks a venue big enough to accommodate both the orchestra and the dancers, so creativity was essential. The performers and their leaders needed time to adjust to the challenges of coordinating the production in separate theaters, with 350 feet of fiber-optic cable connecting the control booths of each.

“What we’re seeing so far is very, very promising,” Ciabatti said. “Our big hurdle in the beginning was the synchronization, and the possibility of delays. There have been many tryouts and sessions where they’ve been ironed out. The delay is almost zero.”

The shared performance will take place after the intermissions of the groups’ respective spring shows. Before intermission, the orchestra will play an earlier work by Stravinsky as well as two compositions by his contemporary, Maurice Ravel. Meanwhile, the dance ensemble will take on The Petrushka Papers, which 2017 Dartmouth graduate Elise Wien wrote as a fusion of dance and theater.

Stenn and Ciabatti credited the Hopkins Center’s technical crew with helping the performers clear the hurdles of timing and electronics, and praised Hop Executive Director Mary Lou Aleskie for encouraging them to pursue collaborations between the college’s ensembles.

“This is a way to involve younger generations, who are born with technology as part of their lives, in ‘old’ music,” Ciabatti said. “It seemed natural to us that the music will partner with technology more and more.”

Added Stenn: “Anytime you do something new, you have to sit down and say, ‘Wait a minute: How is this going to unfold?’ But once you’ve worked that out, it makes for an exciting atmosphere.

“If you’re pushing the envelope, it might as well be with this kind of material.”

The Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra and the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble collaborate on Petrushka at the Hopkins Center in Hanover on Friday and Saturday nights. Before the Stravinsky ballet, scheduled to follow intermission, the groups will perform separate programs. Tickets for the full dance program in Moore Theater cost $10 to $15. Admission to the orchestra’s full performance in Spaulding are $10 to $20. To reserve seats and learn more, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Best Bets

New York-based actress Francesca Harper portrays blues diva Billie Holiday in Lanie Robertson’s Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, at two Upper Valley venues over the next two weekends, starting tonight at 7:30 at the Engine Room in White River Junction. Subsequent performances, under the direction of Jarvis Antonio Green, at the Engine Room are scheduled for 7:30 Friday and Saturday nights and for 4 on Sunday afternoon. The production moves to the ArtisTree Community Arts Center’s Grange theater in South Pomfret between next Thursday and June 3. For tickets ($32 to 35), visit jagproductionsvt.com.

How does it feel to know that Bob Dylan’s turning 77 this week? The roots quartet Mud on the Tracks offers some musical answers at The Skinny Pancake in Hanover tonight at 8, as part of the restaurant’s “Tangled Up in Bob” celebration. Aspiring musicians can offer their own interpretations during the open mic that follows at 8:40 and the musical jam at 9:30.

Pianist Sonny Saul unveils his new jazz composition on Friday night at 7:30 at his Pleasant Street Books store in Woodstock, in concert with bassist Glendon Ingalls, clarinetist Quincy Saul and drummer Tim Gilmore. The work is divided into the titles Apologia, Identity, Struggle/Solidarity and Beyond History We Are Nothing. Admission is by donation, with proceeds benefiting a campaign serving refugees from Syria’s Afrin region.

Americana singer-songwriter Jesse Colin Young leads his new band of students and recent graduates of the Berklee College of Music into Woodstock’s Town Hall Theatre on Friday night at 8. For tickets ($45 to $50) and more information, visit pentanglearts.org or call 802-457-3981.

Enfield-native singer-songwriter Brooks Hubbard returns to the Upper Valley from Nashville this weekend, performing the first concert of the new series at Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover on Saturday afternoon at 4. Admission is $5 per person and $10 per carload. To learn more, call 603-643-2134.

Patricia Norton leads the Upper Valley Music Center’s Juneberry Chorus through its spring concert on Monday afternoon at 4, at the First Congregational Church of Thetford. With guest appearances by the Lyme Church Bell Choir and the Pop-Up Juneberry Children’s Chorus, the ensemble will range among jazz, traditional Jewish music, spirituals and the poetry of Dickinson, Rilke and Longfellow. Admission is by donation at the door.

Looking Ahead

The chamber quartet Jubal’s Lyre will play works of Baroque masters Dieterich Buxtehude, Georg Philipp Telemann, Domenico Scarlatti and Francesco Manfredini on June 1, at the Seven Stars Arts Center in Sharon. Admission to the concert, which starts at 7:30 p.m., costs $15 in advance and $20 at the door. To reserve tickets and learn more, visit sevenstarsarts.org.

The Old Church Theater company will open its 2018 season on June 1, with a two-weekend production of Pride @ Prejudice, at the theater’s temporary home at 176 Waits River Road in Bradford, Vt. This affectionate parody of Jane Austen’s novel of manners follows the roller-coaster relationship between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet through blogs and internet chat rooms. To reserve tickets ($6 to $12) and learn more, visit oldchurchtheater.org or call 802-222-3322.


The folk duo of Jimmy Sferes and Jennifer White plays the Sunapee Community CoffeeHouse on Friday night at 7, at the Methodist church in Sunapee Harbor. Admission is by donation.

The JazzPlus trio of pianist Chris Bakriges, bassist Jeff Fuller and guitarist Joe Carter fills the ArtisTree Community Arts Center’s Hayloft, in South Pomfret, with a mix of world music and contemporary jazz on Friday night at 7:30 For tickets ($20) and more information, visit artistreevt.org.

Singer Sabrina Brown and saxophonist/pianist Fred Haas perform at two venues in Woodstock over the coming week.

On Sunday afternoon from 1 to 4 on the village green, they interpret pop classics from the 1970s and music from the Great American Songbook with pianist Bob Merrill and the Woodstock Union High School jazz band.

On Tuesday night at 7 at the North Universalist Chapel, Brown and Haas play jazz with guitarist Billy Rosen and bassist David Westphalen, while recounting a recent winter trip to South America with photos and stories. Admission is by donation to the Interplay Jazz summer camp program.


The Eloise & Co. trio of fiddler Becky Tracy, accordionist Rachel Bell and guitarist Owen Morrison set the rhythm and Adina Gordon calls the steps during Muskeg Music’s contra dance at Tracy Hall in Norwich on Saturday night at 8. Admission is $7 to $12.

Bar and Club Circuit

Bassist Peter Concilio, guitarist Ted Mortimer and saxophonist Michael Parker play jazz at Peyton Place in Orford tonight between 6 and 9.

Bangkok Disco pulls into Windsor Station tonight at 7, to play jazz, funk, boogaloo and avant-garde music. Supply & Demand performs a wide range of roots music on Friday night at 10 and singer-songwriters Erik Boedtker and Tristan Bellerive play next Thursday night at 7.

Royalton singer-songwriter Alison “AliT” Turner appears at the Inn at Weathersfield in Perkinsville on Friday night at 7.

Soulfix plays the Taverne on the Square in Claremont on Friday night at 8.

The Stockwell Brothers fill Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners with bluegrass on Friday night at 9.

The weekend line-up at Salt hill Pub in Hanover features singer-songwriter Ryan Alvanos on Friday night at 9 and the John Lackard Blues Trio on Saturday night at 9.

Singer-guitarist Chris Powers leads his Off the List rock trio into Salt hill Pub in downtown Lebanon on Friday night at 9, and bluesman Arthur James plays on Saturday night at 9.

Shrimp Tunes kicks off the weekend at Salt hill Pub in West Lebanon on Friday night at 9. And on Saturday night at 9, Better Days plays rock hits of the 1960s and 1970s.

Singer-songwriter Chris Parlon plays Newport’s Salt hill Pub on Friday night at 9, and About Gladys rocks out on Saturday night at 9.

Pianist Sonny Saul plays jazz at the On the River Inn in Woodstock on Saturday and Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 9.

The Americana ensemble of keyboardist Doc Winslow, bassist Tom Lord, guitarist Kit Creeger and drummer Bryant Harris serenades the weekly brunch at Poor Thom’s Tavern in Meriden on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saxophonist Michael Parker collaborates with singer Alison “AliT” Turner at the SILO Distillery in Windsor on Sunday afternoon between 1 and 3.

Open Mics

Woodstock’s Jim Yeager hosts open mics on the following nights over the coming week: tonight at 7 at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret; at Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock on Monday at 7:30; at the Public House in Quechee on Tuesday at 6; and on Wednesday from 8 to midnight at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic at 7:30 on Thursday nights. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

Joe Stallsmith leads his weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass on Monday night at 6 at Salt hill Pub in Hanover.

Fiddler Jakob Breitbach leads a weekly acoustic jam session of bluegrass, Americana and old-timey music on Tuesday nights at 7 at The Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River Junction.

Tom Masterson hosts the weekly open mic at Bradford’s Colatina Exit on Tuesday nights at 8.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Entertainment news also can be sent to highlights@vnews.com.