A Shakespeare-inspired program by Oakland Ballet Company celebrates the full-time Artistic Director, Graham Lustig, with a pair of works he’s choreographed. The West Coast premiere of his Midsummer Night’s Dream reimagines the classic play with a score by Mendelssohn, and the world premiere of Consort features several selections performed live with lute and countertenor. The performances are Thursday night through Saturday night at Laney College.
There’s more information at the Oakland Ballet Company website.
When last year the board appointed him full-time Artistic Director, Lustig says, they wanted to celebrate the occasion with a full performance of his works. “So I thought Midsummer Night’s Dream would be a really great piece – I had done that before in New Jersey, to the Mendelssohn score. But I couldn’t find an existing ballet that I felt was a good accompaniment. So I became very inspired by Elizabethan arts, by poetry, by prose, and by music and songs. And Consort came into my head, and it’s been growing ever since.” It would also bring Shakespeare’s words to life in dance, with some of his sonnets, in addition to songs and other works by his contemporaries. “I did a lot of research, and looked at a lot of English composers of that period, and basically sort of assimilated a playlist which was probably eight hours long. And from that I had to pull down into what I thought were the critical pieces that would tell the story of a courtly love, and the expression of love at that time, and how it was celebrated in all its different dimensions… There’s playfulness, and there’s pathos too, being a slave. So yes, it takes us through a landscape of how love is perceived both as an ethereal ideal and also the reality at the end that we come to.” Some of the period music isn’t practical to be played live, but songs for lute and voice will be performed by Dominic Schaner and Dan Cromeenes.