Central Ballet Theatre of Greeneville will present its newest ballet, “Exodus: The Story of Moses,” on Jan. 22– 24 at Tusculum College.
The local ballet company that brought “Esther” and “Prince Caspian” to East Tennessee now presents its seventh production with 93 local and professional dancers in an exciting, original ballet for all ages.
“Exodus” will be presented at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 24. All performances will be in the auditorium of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building on the Tusculum College campus.
The production is a spinoff of “Deliver Us!” the first original story ballet Central Ballet Theatre performed, with more complex plots and a deeper story-line. Except for five original scenes, there is all new choreography, new music (both classical and contemporary), new and old costumes and scenes enhancing the depth of new characters and the richness of a new storyline. The ballet presents the Biblical story of Moses found in Exodus chapters 1–15 in detail along with the presentation of the Egyptian historical side of the story.
“This ballet brings the story of Moses alive, allowing the audience and the dancers to live a part of history in such a way that one will not soon forget it,” said Lori Ann Sparks, artistic director of Central Ballet Theatre. She envisioned this version of the old ballet this past spring “where the new parts just fell into place, creating such a depth of the characters that the audience will see their hearts and feel their passion, their peace, their despair and their hope.”
Sparks, also the company’s resident choreographer and a professional dancer, will portray the role of Pharaoh’s daughter, the princess. Previously, she danced the role of Dr. Cornelius as well as the head tree in last year’s production of “Prince Caspian.”
Returning to perform with Central Ballet for his fourth season is Jeffrey Diehl who will portray Moses. Now a freelance dancer from Louisville, Ky., Diehl has 12 years professional experience dancing various roles with Orlando Ballet, Louisville Ballet and BalletMet. He played the part of Caspian in Central Ballet’s last production.
A native of Iowa, Diehl received his early training at the Houston Ballet Academy. He attended Northern Illinois University where he earned a degree in dance performance. Diehl has performed an array of works by great choreographers such as Sir Fredrick Ashton, George Balanchine, Choo-San Goh, Paul Taylor and Antony Tudor. He had the privilege of performing at the Kennedy Center in 1998 for the American College Dance Festival Association’s 25th Anniversary Gala Concert.
Dante Adela, returning to Central Ballet for his third season, comes to dance the role of Pharaoh’s Son, the new Pharaoh. Adela played the role of Trumpkin in “Prince Caspian.” He studied at Lou Conti Studios in Chicago (Hubbard Street Dance Co.), then went to New York City to study at Steps on Broadway, then to Alvin Ailey Dance Center, then finally to North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, N.C. — all on full scholarships. He has also danced professionally with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Cedar Lake Dance, Ballet NY, Orlando Ballet and Kansas City Ballet, just to name a few.
Now Adela teaches contemporary dance, as well as rock climbing, in three major sport centers in New York City. He remembers his nervousness and desire the first time dancing in public in the Philippines and is “happy and fortunate I am that I’m still dancing, and thankful that I get to share it with you guys (Central Ballet Theatre). I started as a break-dancer, went backward, from street to classical ballet, the foundation of dance, of movement. Now I dance vertically, on a rock wall.”
Jacobed, Moses’s mother, will be danced by Tanya Rathbun, who performed the role of Nik-a-Brik in “Prince Caspian” and is returning to Central Ballet for her third season. Rathbun has more than 20 years of professional experience, teaching and performing with respected companies in the U.S. and abroad. She has trained under some of the best dancers and choreographers in the business, including The Chicago City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Rotara Ballet of Atlanta, Joel Hall Dancers, Danceworks Conservatory and The Störling Dance Theatre.
Her performance experience ranges from classic roles in traditional ballets such as “The Nutcracker,” to fast paced flapper and swing choreography set to the big band music of the 1920s. Her broad range includes expressive lyrical performances, as part of her own original ballets – “God With Us, Remember Me” and “Genesis.” Rathbun currently serves as the artistic director and owner of Trinity Arts Center of Johnson City, a multi-disciplinary arts school founded in 2006, where she continues to teach and direct a variety of classes and productions each year.
As with Central Ballet tradition, a large group of volunteer parents brings costumes, props, performance coordination and master sets to the ballet. Brian Sparks, master builder of sets, also assists with the acting in the performance. Marilyn duBrisk, artist-in-residence at Tusculum College, is providing advice for scenes in addition to her help at the ballet’s auditions last fall. Well known local actor Wess duBrisk will make a guest appearance in the ballet as Jethro, the Midian priest. Beth Stone and Dell Hughes, other Greeneville artists, are creating poster art and Egyptian gods for the ballet. Sam Lane and Barbara Badenhope have painted the scenery. The production will be reusing masks from “Deliver Us!,” which were made under the direction of local artist, James-Ben Stockton.
“Exodus will be the best ballet CBT as produced yet,” said Parke Brumit, president of Central Ballet Theatre’s board of directors. “It will be exciting, beautiful, and heart-moving. Thank you to all the community for the encouragement and financial gifts that help make this ballet happen.”
General admission is $12, and tickets are $6 for students and senior citizens. To reserve tickets or for more information, call 423-330-3098 or 423-798-1620. Tickets may also be purchased at Three Blind Mice, James-Ben Studio, The General Morgan Inn, or at the box office the day of the performance (reservations are suggested).
Central Ballet Theatre is funded in part by Arts Build Communities, a program funded by the Tennessee General Assembly and administered in cooperation with the Tennessee Arts Commission; the Johnson City Area Arts Council, and Tusculum College’s Acts, Arts, Academia.
For more information, visit www.centralballet.com.
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