Must-see moves

Flying feet and acrobatic hijinks
By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  September 16, 2009


TAKING FLIGHT Karla Kovatch in Festival Ballet's The Widow's Broom.

Two of this fall's dance performances will tell Halloween-style stories — a reprise of Viktor Plotnikov's THE WIDOW'S BROOM, by Festival Ballet Providence, and a premiere of Miki Ohlsen's DRACULA, by Island Moving Co. The latter company has made a name for itself in doing site-specific performances, especially with their NUTCRACKER at Rosecliff (this year November 27-December 4), in which the scenes of the story are shifted, along with the audience, from room to room in the Newport mansion.

Envisioning a ballet set in another Newport mansion, artistic director Miki Ohlsen thought of Belcourt Castle and readily got permission from owner Harley Tinney, who "loves doing adventurous things and doesn't treat her castle as a museum," according to Ohlsen. Brainstorming with her son, Ohlsen came up with a ballet of Dracula that will move among the rooms and furnishings of the historic house, which will add its own sense of eeriness and mystery to the tale.

Along with the choreography, Ohlsen has been working with composer Felix Ventouras on original music for the ballet, as well as figuring out such special effects as film projections and two of the dancers "working in the silks" — i.e., "flying."

"For every person, the essence of this story is different," Ohlsen pointed out, "and although the opening scene is a masked ball with 16 to 18 people — and we're encouraging audience members to come in masks — I've distilled the story down to my nine dancers. Through them, I think we can create a full and intimate experience."

For more information about Dracula or The Nutcracker at Rosecliff, go to island

Festival Ballet Providence has had such success with the UP CLOSE, ON HOPE series at their Black Box Theater that they're introducing another two-part fall-winter program, chatter-BOXtheater, designed especially for children. The first will be Valerie Cookson-Botto's PETER AND THE WOLF (October 3-4 and 10-11). The Up Close, on Hope fall program (November 7, 14-15, and 21-22) will feature world and Rhode Island premieres from guest and resident choreographers, but the program will also highlight pieces by George Balanchine. Main-stage productions will be THE WIDOW'S BROOM (October 30-November 1) at the VMA Arts & Cultural Center, based on the tale of a broom brought to life in Chris Van Allsburg's story; and the holiday favorite THE NUTCRACKER, (at PPAC December 11-13,

FUSIONWORKS DANCE COMPANY will present its annual fall concert on November 20 and 21 at Rhode Island College. The second performance is an "unwrapped" version, meaning that there are short explanations of each dance before it is performed. They are also presenting the Downcity Fusion Fest on October 17 and Firehouse Friday on November 6 (

Everett Dance Theatre and the Carriage House continue to present improv theatre and dance on a weekly basis with its FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE extravaganza. See

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