UNCSA hosts online premiere of “Polovtsian Dances” by Susan Jaffe on June 4

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) announces the online premiere of “Polovtsian Dances” by departing Dean of Dance Susan Jaffe in her 2013 UNCSA choreographic debut, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 4, on “UNCSA at Home,” the new performance portal that launched May 4, and on the UNCSA Facebook page.

Jaffe choreographed the contemporary ballet for Carolina Performing Arts’ retrospective of “The Rite of Spring at One Hundred,” performed at Memorial Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013, with UNCSA dancers and the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra, led by renowned conductor and then-UNCSA Chancellor John Mauceri. Filmed at UNCSA’s Stevens Center in 2014, “Polovtsian Dances” was part of a UNCSA-produced film “Reimagining and Reawakening: An Evening of Dance,” that aired on UNC-TV in 2016.

"Polovtsian Dances" by Susan Jaffe / Photo: Rosalie O'Conor

Jaffe’s “Polovtsian Dances” reimagined the exotic dances that occur in Act II of Alexander Borodin's opera “Prince Igor,” and features scene design by UNCSA School of Design and Production faculty member Joseph P. Tilford. The performance is approximately 14 minutes long.

“Polovtsian Dances” was the final work on the program when Ballet Russes premiered the controversial “The Rite of Spring” in Paris in 1913.

Jaffe has described her creative process saying: “There are choreographers out there that first create the choreography and then find the music. I am not one of those. I have to be inspired by the music and the music then informs me what the steps should look like.”

For “Polovtsian Dances,” Jaffe said she listened to Borodin’s music for a month-and-a-half before the first steps came to her. “And then I said, ‘Now I can do this.’ It’s really about seeing the steps in your head when you’re listening to the music,” she said.

While at UNCSA, Jaffe has also choreographed “Metallurgy” for Winter Dance 2015 and “Carmina Terra” for Spring Dance 2018, and staged “Raymonda” for Spring Dance 2019 and Act III of “The Sleeping Beauty” for Winter Dance 2020.

“UNCSA at Home” showcases student and faculty performances past and present while stages remain dark due to the coronavirus pandemic. It offers video, audio and images from each of UNCSA’s five conservatories: Dance, Design & Production (including Visual Arts), Drama, FilmmakingMusic and community programs.

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May 18, 2020