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Highlights of recent Austrian tour to be presented by OU School of Dance for Dance Partners

BY BRITTANY RAY, OU School of Dance Modified: September 24, 2012 at 10:32 am •  Published: September 24, 2012

NORMAN -- The University of Oklahoma School of Dance (SOD) will present highlights from the Oklahoma Festival Ballet’s (OFB) recent appearances in Austria at an upcoming Dance Partners event.

Participants will also be updated about new developments and acquisitions of the Ballets Russes Archive at the meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in Room 3002 of the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center.

Dance Partners was organized in 2003 to provide support for SOD endeavors, especially scholarships. Charles Oppenheim is the current president.

Oklahoma Festival Ballet toured Austria Aug. 2 through 12 as participants in the Classical Music Festival, hosted this year in the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt.. Dancers and 30 singers from Oklahoma presented Joseph Haydn’s Creation (Die Schöpfung) on Aug. 8-9 with the Festival Chorus and Orchestra, a group assembled from worldwide applicants.

The Austrian premiere with original choreography occurred at Esterházy Palace. Dances were created by Mary Margaret Holt, director of SOD, and faculty member Steve Brule. Performances were conducted by Richard Zielinski, director of choral activities and chair of graduate choral studies at OU.

OFB gave the American premiere of The Creation with the OU Symphony Orchestra and singers from several OU and local choirs on April 14, 2012. Walter Reicher, president of the Classical Music Festival, attended the performance and consequently invited OFB to join the program at the festival in Eisenstadt.

Holt said: “The tour to Austria surpassed even our very high expectations. Eisenstadt is a lovely, historic city and it was an amazing experience to visit sites where Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart worked and conducted their music. The gala performance on August 9 was sold out and a balcony area that's opened only rarely was used to help accommodate the capacity-plus audience.

"This was the first time ballet was included as part of the Classical Music Festival and the first time The Creation was presented as a ballet with orchestra and chorus. We were uncertain as to how it would be received but the 10-minute ovation following the performance was clear proof of the audience's approval and appreciation for the performance.

"During the reception that followed, our dancers were surrounded by audience members praising their professionalism and artistry. The tour was an enormous success and we were delighted to be invited to perform at the Haydn Festspiele in 2014.”

Besides the choreographers, others who accompanied the production were stage manager Christopher Sadler, lighting designer Kirk Fitzgerald, fourteen dancers and patrons Jim and Molly Crawley, as well as June and Andy Morfoupolos.

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