Stage & Dance

Lexington Ballet shuns hokey retreads with challenging ‘Soldier’s Tale’

Jake Lowenstein, left, and Casey Myrick rehearsed a move for the Lexington Ballet’s production of “The Soldier’s Tale.”
Jake Lowenstein, left, and Casey Myrick rehearsed a move for the Lexington Ballet’s production of “The Soldier’s Tale.” cbertram@herald-leader.com

If there is one thing dancers know, it’s music from the inside out.

Luis Dominguez, artistic director of the Lexington Ballet, has listened to Igor Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale” for six months, until it has become so much a part of him, he can bring the tale to life with sound, lights, costumes and of course, the body.

Music takes center stage in the company’s season opener in more ways than one. Not only will the show revive a promising partnership with the Lexington Chamber Players, but music itself is a plot point in the story, a Russian folktale about a soldier who traded his violin (and his soul) to the devil for wealth.

Another intimate show at the Downtown Arts Center, on the heels of the successful “Dance Out Loud” show at the DAC last year, “The Soldier’s Tale” features the Lexington Chamber Players, including Daniel Mason, concertmaster for the Lexington Philharmonic, who will bring to life the soldier’s fight for his soul in Stravinsky’s complex work.

It’s a good community to do these kinds of things, to get away from Disney, to get away from the commercial, hokey stories. These are things that have substance, that have withstood the test of time.

Luis Dominguez, Lexington Ballet director

Dominguez saysthe production is around an hour long, less than a full ballet, but it’s a complicated, ambitiously theatrical show that involves actors, musicians, and dancers.

“It’s complicated because not only do I have to work with the dancers, but also I have to direct the actors and coordinate it all with the musicians,” Dominguez says.

“At times, dancing takes place to dialogue, to music, to sound effects,” says Dominguez. “It’s a very theatrical piece.”

It’s also a difficult piece.

Stravinsky’s work is peppered with shifting time signatures.

“Toward the end, there are three dances: a tango, a waltz, and a ragtime. They play back to back, and the tango and the ragtime are one of the most strange time signatures that you can encounter, so how do you solve that?” Dominguez said.

“That’s why I’ve been listening to the music for six months now. It gets intense because once you learn it, then you’re really not trying to count a time signature, but you’re beginning to discover a melody hidden under a melody, or you’re waiting for a string, or you’re waiting for an oboe or waiting for a drum. It’s quite challenging.”

The dancers are up to the challenge.

Dominguez said the dancers spent hours upon hours repeating the same movements in the studio to master the music’s demands.

“Many teach class at 10 and work until 4 or 4:30, just repeating the movement, just staying in the same eight counts or four counts,” Dominguez says. “The next day when they’ve finally got it, it’s great.”

Dominguez hopes that the intimate setting combined with the collaborative nature of the show — not to mention the show’s story itself — will satisfy those in the audience who are open to new experiences.

Lexington is a welcoming place for collaborations like “The Soldier’s Tale,” Dominguez says, and he’d like to see more of them.

“It’s a good community to do these kinds of things, to get away from Disney, to get away from the commercial, hokey stories,” he says. “These are things that have substance, that have withstood the test of time.”

Candace Chaney is a Lexington-based writer and critic.

If you go

‘The Soldier’s Tale’

What: Production of Igor Stravinsky’s work in collaboration with the Lexington Chamber Players

When: 8 p.m. Fri., Sat.

Where: Downtown Arts Center, 141 E. Main St.

Tickets: $39, $30 senior adults, $19 students and children

Online: Lexingtonballet.org

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