Alabama Ballet lets its hair down in ‘Ovation’
by Erin Williams
Special to The Star
Sep 15, 2013 | 3440 views |  0 comments | 82 82 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Olivia Powell performs in the run of George Balanchine’s ‘Tarantella’ in the Alabama Ballet’s ‘Ovation’ Sept. 22 in Gadsden. Submitted photo
Olivia Powell performs in the run of George Balanchine’s ‘Tarantella’ in the Alabama Ballet’s ‘Ovation’ Sept. 22 in Gadsden. Submitted photo
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This season, the Alabama Ballet will bring emotion, strength and gravitas to classic performances like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” “Romeo and Juliet” and the ever-present holiday classic, “The Nutcracker.”

But first, they’ll throw caution to the wind Sept. 22 at the Wallace Hall Fine Arts Center, when they perform “Ovation,” a mixed repertory performance that brings fun, frenzy and spontaneity to the floor.

“None of it has a real storyline, but just the energy of the whole production … is much more upbeat,” says principal dancer Olivia Powell, adding that lack of narrative allows the audience to focus on the art. “You can just appreciate dance for the aesthetic that it has and appreciate the hard work that the dancers put into it.”

Powell will perform in two runs of Sunday’s performance — George Balanchine’s “Tarantella,” which she describes as “very stamina-oriented,” and Jirí Kylián’s “Sechs Tänze,” more contemporary piece that translated from German means “Six Dances.”

“It’s still classically-based, but we’re not wearing soft-shoes, we have really extravagant makeup, the costumes and the lighting are very intricate,” said Powell. “I’d say it’s a lot more of a theatrical piece.”

The Massachusetts native, who made the journey from Boston to Birmingham to join the Alabama Ballet more than a year ago, says she never gave much thought to where her career might take her.

“I don’t think I ever thought of where I would end up,” says Powell. “I think as dancers ... we don’t really know where we’re going to go from one year to the next. I don’t think I really anticipated coming here, but I’m really happy that I did.”

Exploring new territory is something Powell has relished since transferring from New York University to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts — “When I found out I got in I said ‘why not?’ and I ended up staying.”

The experience allowed her to return to her ballet roots and expand her modern-dance technique — and understand Cantonese.

For Powell, who transitions between her two runs in a matter of minutes, the mix of works requires a lot of internal and external focus.

“I’m going from a classic ballet bun and pointe shoes and pink tights and traditional stage makeup, and then I have to completely tease my hair out, paint my face white and change my entire wardrobe,” she says. “It’s high energy on and off stage.”
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Alabama Ballet lets its hair down in ‘Ovation’ by Erin Williams
Special to The Star

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