Ivey Ballet presents Spring Dance Concert

Myers Varn and Michael Rodriguez of the Robert Ivey Ballet.

The recently deceased, venerable playwright Lanford Wilson once expressed admiration for "the human urge to persist, to go wild, to keep dancing, even when the music has stopped."

Robert Ivey, a dance teacher for 34 years, aptly illustrates this quote.

Even though the music has briefly stopped for Ivey, as he is recovering from severe injuries sustained in an accident, the annual Robert Ivey Ballet Spring Dance Concert will open as scheduled Friday for three weekend performances.

Describing the numerous dancers and choreographers he has trained through the years, Ivey says, "They are a treasure of resources now lending their talents to produce this performance."

The ballet mistress of the Ivey Ballet is Russian-born Olga Wise, a graduate of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy who will direct the multithemed spring concert.

In a telephone interview, Wise recalls meeting her future husband, Michael Wise, when both were dancing at the Moscow Classical Ballet.

"We got married and moved to Charleston, his hometown, where I have danced and choreographed with the Ivey Ballet for 16 years."

For this concert, Wise has choreographed an original work, "Quintessent," danced to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." She also will direct Tchaikovsky's "Serenade" using Ivey's original choreography.

Legendary choreographer Bob Fosse's saucy style will grace the stage with a jazzy piece, "Cellblock Tango," set by Lori Hull, a former Ivey student.

"I set this piece after seeing the Broadway show 'Chicago' three times," says Hull. "It showcases six women who have murdered their husbands, and are incarcerated in Chicago's Cook County Jail, so the tone is decidedly tongue-in-cheek."

Brooke McMurray, who teaches at Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School, has choreographed a modern work, "Les Visages De Moi," which she says "represents the many facets of solitude, including sadness, anger and habit."

Another contemporary work, "Mathematics," has been created by former Ivey student Amanda Nelson, a dance education major at the University of South Carolina, who notes, "It was such an honor to be invited by Mr. Ivey to choreograph a piece. And so, in this dance, my goal is to honor him for all the guidance and help he has given me."

Emily Poff and Michael Rodriguez will perform a pas de deux in "Flower Festival," danced to the music of August Bourneville. Also, a pas de trios from "Swan Lake" will feature Walter Imko, Katie Badgett and Myers Varn.

A former dancer with the Ballet Eddy Toussaint, Douglas Smoak has choreographed a humorous piece for the Ivey Youth Ballet to "The William Tell Overture."

The Ivey Ballet's signature piece, "The Grand Tarantella," which Ivey choreographed in 1981, will be restaged by Hull, with tambourines keeping the beat to Louis Moreau Gottschalk's music.

The concert will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. April 17 at the Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St.

Tickets are $18 general admission and $15 for students and senior citizens and may be purchased by calling 556-1343 or at the door.

'Original Peter Pan'

When professional actor Jordan Ellis learned the original version of "Peter Pan," based on J.M. Barrie's 1904 play, was to be performed by Charleston Stage, he immediately auditioned for the lead role at the United Professional Theatre Auditions in New York.

"Although I love to sing, when I learned this was a straight play and not a musical, my interest was sparked even more because I find this script to be more rich and complex than that of the musical," explains Ellis, a musical theater major at Catawba (N.C.) College who has performed at Carnegie Hall and in numerous regional productions. "This play should touch both children and adults with its heartbreaking and heartwarming story."

Julian Wiles, founder of Charleston Stage, shares Ellis' admiration. "I saw the original version of 'Peter Pan' at the Shaw Festival in Canada and realized there was much more to the story than I had ever imagined."

Wiles notes that "The Original Peter Pan," directed by Marybeth Clark, stars a young male in the role of Peter, which was Barrie's original intent. However, because British laws in 1904 prevented youngsters on stage after 9 p.m., an actress was substituted, starting the tradition of casting females such as Mary Martin.

Flying by Foy of New York will handle the aerial sequences accompanied by incidental music and songs composed by Christopher Donison and Amanda Wansa.

The roles of Wendy, John and Michael Darling will be played by Prentice Clark, Sam Chase and Luke Shaw, respectively.

Performances will be 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 20-23 and April 28-30 with 3 p.m. matinees April 17 and 24 and May 1 at the Dock Street Theatre.

Tickets are $38-$52 for adults, $36-$52 for seniors and $22-$52 for students. Call 577-7183, visit www.charlestonstage.com, or buy tickets at the door.

Reach Dottie Ashley at dottieashley@gmail.com.