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  • Writer's pictureSpotlight News Hampton Roads

Todd Rosenlieb Dance - Summer Ensemble Concert 2021

TRDance and Virginia Ballet Theatre, Let's Dance Again Summer Ensemble Concert, Aug 14, 8pm, August 15, 3pm, Tickets $12 at, box office opens 1 hour before concert. Location: Benjack Studio Theatre, TRDance Center, 325 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23510. Masks required to enter. Fully vaccinated patrons may remove their mask at their seat.

Words by Jaime Simpson. Images courtesy of TRD and VBT Ensembles.

One year ago, the Todd Rosenlieb Dance Ensemble and the Virginia Ballet Theatre Ensemble were preparing for their very first virtual concert.

It was a new adventure for us, and there was much to figure out: where to place the camera; how to plan the lighting so the colors showed correctly on video; how to space the dancers so they didn’t go off camera while they danced. But figure it out we did, and everyone involved was thankful for the chance to perform.

4 dancers with their hands in the air rehearse for a piece.

The Ensemble groups went on to present virtual performances as part of 2020’s Arts for Life last December, and the Spring Ensemble Concert this past April. Lynette Hauser (the Associate Director of the TRD Ensemble) and I (the Associate Director of the VBT Ensemble) are grateful for the technology that enabled us to move forward, and not have to cancel. The virtual concerts also gave the opportunity for audience members anywhere to see them; we had viewers from around the country join us for these shows, and we are so grateful for the support.

We are happy to say, though, that for this summer’s Ensemble Concert, we will be back in person.

“It really feels like we've come full circle … it's so exciting a year later to return to our first full, in person audience,” Lynette expressed to me. “Virtual concerts were different - not clapping at the end of the piece as the dancers bowed to ensure no noise on the recording was odd. I'm so thrilled for the dancers to have the live audience and immediate feedback to their dancing.”

I wholeheartedly agree. There is, of course, a joy in dancing just for the sake of it, and it is wonderful to learn a new piece of choreography. Dance is a way of communicating without words, through a blend of movement, musicality, and expression. Our recent virtual concerts gave the Ensemble dancers this opportunity, and they embraced it. Even though their performance was to a camera and not a live audience, the dancers were still able to share their artistry and talent, knowing that their performance would be seen.

Two dancers in rehearsal doing a handstand with a full split.

That being said, performing in front of a live audience greatly amplifies the magic of dance for everyone. The feeling in the air is unique as the dancers and audience members magnify each other’s energy. The dancers’ performance and the audience’s response become a cyclical exchange of feeling as the tones and textures of each piece shift - it becomes a shared experience.

a ballet dancer gracefully picks up some fabric off of the floor.

And this summer’s concert will have a definite variety of textures. There are four newly choreographed works for the TRD Ensemble dancers (with a modern/contemporary dance focus). The VBT Ensemble dancers will present a newly choreographed contemporary pointe piece, along with three solo variations from classical ballets. All the new dance works have been created by local artists, including one who is making her TRD Ensemble choreographic debut.

The TRD and VBT Ensemble dancers and choreographers have put in amazing work preparing for this show; Lynette and I are extremely proud of their efforts and growth during this Ensemble season.

“The audience will not be disappointed,” Lynette said. “Our Ensemble pieces represent strength and fun, fierceness, even a bit of sass. I'm excited to see the concert come together.”

It has a been a joy for me to see a little extra sparkle around everyone in rehearsals and when chatting about the show; the excitement of performing for an audience is one of a kind, and oh so special.

The TRD and VBT Summer Ensemble Concert will be Saturday August 14th at 8pm and Sunday August 15th at 3pm. The show is taking place at the Benjack Studio Theatre inside the TRDance Center at 325 Granby Street, Norfolk. Tickets are available here. If unable to attend in person, a recording of the performance will be available for streaming on the TRDance website after the concert weekend.

a ballerina in a more traditional en pointe pose wearing a rehearsal tutu.

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