On Scene at OU: Oklahoma Festival Ballet, from early Balanchine to Yanowsky’s ‘Train of Thought,’ a tribute to Hope — Stellar musicians and vocals featured on program

By Glenda Rice Collins

Norman, Okla., USA — A uniquely fulfilling opportunity to compare the early works of both New York City Ballet choreographic icons George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins continues on stage at the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center this weekend at the University of Oklahoma, with final Oklahoma Festival Ballet performances at 8 P.M. April 7, and 3 p.m., Saturday, April 8. Performances will be held in the Elsie C. Brackett Theatre, 563 Elm Ave., on the OU Norman campus.

This production, like a breath of springtime, is suitable for all audiences.

The program opens with an excerpt from Balanchine’s Serenade, the first ballet he created in America, followed by Jerome Robbins’ lyrical masterwork, Antique Epigraphs, which will be performed to a four-hand piano score played by world-renowned concert pianists Igor Lipinski and Stephanie Leon Shames. The exquisite flute solos are played by Valerie Watts and Jessica Piso.

Performances include inspiring works by choreographers Yury Yanowsky, and Penny Saunders. “Both have created works for professional companies such as the Kansas City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Hubbard Street, Cincinnati Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, BalletX, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet, to name a few,” says OU School of Dance professor Boyko Dossev, artistic director of Oklahoma Festival Ballet.

In professor Dossev’s new ballet Orphée, created for Oklahoma Festival Ballet, this dance
adaptation of the legendary lovers — the ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice — tells the fateful
love story of Orpheus of Thrace for the beautiful Eurydice. The currently featured dancers, singer, and musicians explore
the meaning of love, faith, and sacrifice

Dossev added, “I am delighted that we (are) joined by the astounding soprano Lorraine Ernest, whose exceptional voice has captivated audiences and opera houses worldwide. She will be accompanied by the esteemed cellist Jonathan Ruck, as well as OU School of Music musicians: Valerie Watts (flute), Dylan Madoux (harpsichord), and Eugenio Alfaro III (violin). Together with the dancers, they…perform Louis-Nicolas Clérambault’s’ charming score, Orphée. I hope our audience will join us
for this dance and music festival to celebrate the human spirit!

Yury Yanowsky’s Train of Thought is an ode to what each of us has gone through over the last two
years, personally, and as a society. Like the light at the end of the tunnel, Train of Thought is the
hope that remains, that human interaction and togetherness will guide us through troubled times.

To complete the program, Penny Saunders’ Deux Amours playfully takes inspiration from the idea that
actions give way to reactions––amplifying the original thought into a myriad of rippling and
beautiful consequences.

Oklahoma Festival Ballet is embodied by the following gifted students from the OU School of Dance:

JessicaAnderson, Carolvn Ansinn, Ava Aubé, Hanna Beaudreau, Gabrielle Brown, Ellie Bush, Damerah
Coleman, Aiko Harada-Collier, Jodie Cone, Vitoria Correia, Julian Cottrell, Blaise Dagnen, Lina Davis,
Caylee Farni, Christian Garcia, Delaney Gondo, Abigail Gorham, Eliza Harden, Emma Hallin, Harry
James Hefner, Ava Kabealo, Joelle Kimbrough, Cheyenne Lok Suet Yeng, Darcey Lynn, Jessie Lynn,
Susannah Major, Kel Martin, Oscar Miller, Bethany Montalvo, Benjamin Nemmers, Kendell
Oelschlaeger, Kiley Price, Sofia Redford, Kira Robinson, Sophia Smith, Adin Spaulding, Brooke
Strachan, Ana Vega and Alayna Wong.


The creative staff consists of Stephanie Orr, costume designer; and Kellen Sapp and Kait Stapp, lighting
designers. Additional costume designers are Karinska and Florence Klotz.
Rehearsal directors for this production are OU School of Dance faculty Michael Bearden, Glenn Edgerton,
Jan Clark Jan Fugit, and Mary Margaret Holt.

The production staff consists of Melody Rutherford and Christopher Sadler, stage managers; Ashley
Hungerford, technical director; Michael Bearden, OU School of Dance director; Kasey Allee-Foreman,
associate producer; and Mary Margaret Holt, producer.

Advance purchase tickets for Oklahoma Festival Ballet are $30 adults; $25 senior adults, OU employees and military;

and $12 students, plus processing fee. Tickets at the door are $40 for adults and $15 for students with student ID.

Tickets may be purchased online at theatre.ou.edu, by calling (405) 325-4101 or by visiting the OU Fine
Arts Box Office in the Catlett Music Center, 500 W. Boyd St. For accommodations, please call the box
office at (405) 325-4101.

University of Oklahoma School of Dance

OU’s dance program was founded in 1963 by Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov, former principal
dancers with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The department became the OU School of Dance in 1998 with Mary Margaret Holt as director. Holt currently serves as dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts. Undergraduate and graduate dance majors, along with general education students, total approximately 1000 students in dance classes per semester. The School of Dance’s state-of-the-art facility in the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center was completed in 2005.

CREDITS: Photos by Glenda Rice Collins.



April 28 – 29, 2023


The powerful, dramatic themes and pulsing rhythms of Carl Orff’s 1936 Carmina Burana will be staged at the University of Oklahoma as a collaboration of OU Schools of Music and Dance and features a 160-voice chorus, Contemporary Dance Oklahoma, a chamber orchestra, and OU School of Music faculty soloists Lori Ernest, soprano, Joel Burcham, tenor and Leslie Flanagan, bass-baritone. The production is under the baton of Richard Zielinski, director of choral activities and professor of music (choral) at OU School of Music. OU School of Dance professors Austin Hartel, Leslie Kraus and Roxanne Lyst serve as choreographers for the production. 

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 28, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29 in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall of the Catlett Music Center, 500 W. Boyd St., Norman, OK. 

“Our presentation of Carmina Burana, by Carl Orff will bring together over 200 performers,” Zielinski said. “Singers from area elementary schools, high schools, and OU students, staff, faculty, dancers, soloists, and instrumentalists collaborate with the Norman community, uniting their diverse and collective spirits in a celebration of life.”  

The work translates from Latin as Songs Of Beuren and refers to a collection of early 13th-century songs and poems discovered in Beuren, Germany. The collection of songs was written in a mix of Latin, German and medieval French by the Goliards, a band of poet-musicians comprised of scholars and clerical students who celebrated with earthy humor the joys of the tavern, nature, love, and lust.  

Tickets for Carmina Burana may be purchased by phone at (405) 325-4101, in person at the OU Fine Arts Box Office, located in the Catlett Music Center, or online at www.ou.edu/finearts/music/performances-events. Ticket prices are $10 at the door. Discounts are available to students, seniors, employees, and military for advance purchases. For accommodation on the basis of disability call (405) 325-4101. 

#######glenda rice collins 4-7-23

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