The photos featured are from the piece Circumstantial Elements and were taken by the talented Jeff Bassinson.
I recently had the pleasure of attending the collaborating performance featuring the Missouri Contemporary Ballet and the Missouri Symphony Orchestra. The show was part of the lineup for the Hot Summer Nights Music Festival. This was the first time that the ballet and orchestra joined forces to create one major program. The partnership was a perfect blend of the arts. A particularly memorable moment that represented the collaboration for me featured a violinist from the orchestra joining the dancers on stage. It created an intimate association between the dancers and the music. The orchestra and ballet truly complimented each other perfectly.
The Missouri Symphony Orchestra is under the direction of Kirk Trevor. Trevor is an internationally known conductor from England. His amazing career led him to the Missouri Symphony Orchestra in 2000. Under his direction, the company has been giving the community a taste of the arts every summer with sensational music festivals. Trevor’s contributions to Missouri’s music scene did not stop there. In 2007, he founded the Missouri Symphony Conservatory. The conservatory helps to educate and train young musicians, which has been a passion of the Maestro. This recent summer performance by the orchestra was nothing short of amazing and showcased Trevor’s talents. He led the musicians effortlessly, filling the Missouri Theater with lovely sounds that blended naturally with the dancers’ movements on stage.
The talented dancers are under the direction of Karen Grundy. Karen started the Missouri Contemporary Ballet back in 2006. She is known in the community for her contributions to the arts, as well as her reputable career. Famous names that Grundy has worked with professionally include; Ronnie Greenblatt, Inez Mourning, Belinda DeBecker, L.J. Ballard, Tiger Martina and Ron Lewis. I recently had the honor of contacting Grundy to ask about her experience while working with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra. She explained that, “It was effortless; Kirk Trevor has worked with dance companies so he is extremely cognizant of our needs. Generally, it comes down to tempos and he was more aware of the dancers needs than I expected, and to work with such accomplished musicians just goes without saying.”
As a member of the audience I watched in astonishment at how effortlessly the performers made everything look. Curious about what it is like to create something so effortless, I asked Grundy to describe being the Executive Director of the MCB in one word.
“Challenging. For me it is a constant challenge to make sure my dancers are being challenged as artists and as dancers/athletes, because that is the reason we are in this profession” she explained.
Visually all of the dances were remarkable and complimented the orchestra well. A number that stood out to me was titled Big Day. This dance told a story of a hysterical wedding party and the ups and downs it faced. The beautifully simplistic costumes emphasized the movement of the dancers on stage and showcased their theatrical skills. Grundy had a favorite piece as well.
“I love Circumstantial Elements!” she explains. “Although, it had no clear concept going in or after it was completed, which is unusual, I just thought it was breathtaking. The dancers took it to a level I never imagined and after the lighting came in, all the pieces of the puzzle just fell into place making it come together beyond my initial expectations.”
From opening to closing curtain the dancers told stories with their bodies that were breathtaking to watch while the orchestra created angelic pieces of music. Overall the collaboration couldn’t have gone any better. It was truly an honor to watch such a monumental combination of the arts showcased in mid-Missouri by two amazing companies.