Dancing into the future

Local dancer Gwen Kelley works with Ballet Evolution. (Photo by Adam Chandler)

Sometimes three is company.

The recently formed Ballet Evolution, a stand-alone organization, is really the result of a fruitful collaboration between the Charleston Dance Institute in Mount Pleasant, Chamber Music Charleston and musician Laura Ball, working under the auspices of her UNED!TED initiative.

The collaborators already have twice presented a successful original ballet, “The Little Match Girl,” and now they are preparing another, the first official Ballet Evolution show.

“ ‘Ancient Tales’ is kind of like an unveiling of the company, a soft opening, if you will,” said Charleston Dance Institute’s Jonathan Tabbert, who is choreographing the production. “We’re still integrating all the dancers, professional and amateur.”

The new work relies on three pieces of music: Prokofiev’s rhythmic Overture on Hebrew Themes, three of Schumann’s four “Marchenerzahlungen” (“Fairy Tales”) and an original Debussy-inspired work by Ball called “Creation.”

“The bassoon is Adam, the clarinet is the snake, the viola is Eve and the piano is God,” Ball said.

“Ancient Tales” is a balletic voyage into the realm of myth and the biblical origin story.

The new ballet, to be presented at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28 at the Sottile Theatre, features two professional dancers: Ezlimar Dortolina of Oklahoma City Ballet will dance the title role of Eve, and Andres Neira, a Colombian native and freelance dancer and teacher in the New York City area, is Adam in Ball’s “Creation.”

The company, about 35 in all, will include other professional artists as well as members of the Charleston Youth Ballet who are students at the Charleston Dance Institute, Tabbert said.

Most of the pieces are choreographed for small ensembles.

Tabbert said the ballet will begin with the music of Prokofiev and movement inspired by Moses’ Song of Deliverance from the Egyptians during which “Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, ‘Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.’ ”

Schumann’s music comes next, with movement inspired by Greek mythology, especially Pan and his woodland nymphs, and the birth of Aphrodite, Tabbert said.

Ball’s chamber piece concludes Ballet Evolution’s trifecta.

Buchanan Arts provides the sets and scenery and Claire Ahlin the lighting design. Musicians involved are violinists Frances Hseh and Jenny Weiss, violist Ben Weiss, cellist Timothy O’Malley, clarinetist Charlie Messersmith and bassoonist Sandra Nikolajevs. Ball will play piano.

“I wanted to draw on the creation story” and other elemental tales, Ball said. The work is meant to express how man relates to the elements and to convey “a sense of spirituality and search for origin.”

Ball and her collaborators conceived the idea for the ballet about a year ago, she said. She started to write music, and the team created a storyboard, then developed the concept further over the summer.

By Christmas, they were working in the dance studio with lead dancers.

“It was really a treat,” Ball said. “It’s nice to be working with living artists.”

“Ancient Tales,” which presents original work in context, relies on Chamber Music Charleston’s professional musicians and employs a mix of professional and student dancers, serves as a kind of blueprint for Ballet Evolution.

“This is the trajectory for the company,” Ball said. “We’re excited to open the door to that for the community.”

A child-friendly version of the program will be presented at 11 a.m. Feb. 28 at the Sottile Theatre. It will feature excerpts from the ballet, interactive segments and some teaching.

Tabbert said the success of “Little Match Girl” inspired the team to do more.

“It was a collaboration that just needed to grow and thrive and continue to create new work,” he said. “The collaboration won’t end there. We have a vision to have new composers and choreographers come in and collaborate. It’s really going to grow to become a hub of creation in the South.”

Reach Adam Parker at 937-5902. Follow him at www.facebook.com/aparkerwriter.