Rochester City Ballet is growing, and artistic director and choreographer Jamey Leverett wants to ensure that audiences comprehend the scope of the company's dancing. That's the part of the impetus behind "Raw, Real and Revealed," a combination lecture/performance this weekend at NazarethArtsCenter.
"Some people have a very distinct idea of what ballet is," Leverett says. "This will be an opportunity to show them how diverse it can be. As much as I love pointe shoes and tutus and tiaras, there is so much more to ballet."
Leverett's contemporary pieces will be showcased in RCB's new program. The company danced "The Nutcracker" over the holidays; it will perform "Cinderella" in the spring. This is the chance for audiences and dancers alike to experience less classical work, ballet without storylines and elaborate costumes. Contemporary ballet retains the bare bones of classical, but plays around with movement outside of that codified dance vocabulary, freeing both the choreographer and the dancers to new modes of expression.
And Leverett believes that it is important to offer her dancers a variety of dance opportunities.
"I wanted to make sure that my dancers are feeling rewarded and fulfilled in all their avenues of dance. I want them to be challenged artistically. With the growth of the company, I want to keep everyone happy," Leverett says.
Last year, RCB had six salaried dancers. This year it will have seven and the contracts will be four weeks longer.
Leverett will preface each piece in "Raw, Real and Revealed" with comments on its content and insight into its creation. By including one of her earliest choreographed dances, "Overtones," along with her most recent, "LumaVoce," Leverett provides the necessary juxtaposition to illuminate her development as an award-winning choreographer. She hopes that offering audiences this foray into the creation and execution of ballet will enhance their appreciation of her chosen art form, as well as help to build RCB's audience.
"People are more willing to come out and see a performance if they have a better understanding of what's happening on the stage," she says.
Leverett has won numerous awards for her choreography. Last year she was named Most Outstanding Choreographer at a prestigious competition that involved more than 40 ballet schools from the United States and Japan.
From a chorographical viewpoint, the most interesting piece to be performed this weekend is "LumaVoce." Leverett deviated from the usual manner of creation with this dance by creating it in silence. Only after she had set down all of the movements did she turn a videotape of the piece over to her collaborator, composer Stephen Kennedy, a professor of sacred music at the Eastman School of Music and music director at ChristChurch. Thus the music became the overlay to the piece rather than its foundation. Juxtapose "LumaVoce" with "Overtones," which remains one of Leverett's most recognized early works, and the evolution of Leverett's choreography into more experimental forms is clear.
Leverett also promises to use audience suggestions to help her put together a few dance phrases on the spot.
"Raw, Real and Revealed"
NazarethCollegeArtsCenter, 4245 East Ave.
Friday, February 1, 7 p.m.; Saturday, February 2, 3 p.m.
$15 | 389-2525 | rochestercityballet.org