Winter Arts Preview: BalletMet world premieres

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Two familiar faces will offer unfamiliar steps during the coming months as BalletMet unveils two world-premiere short works before marquee performances.

The first piece will be by Ma Cong, a rising choreography star who twice has come from the Tulsa Ballet to perform for Columbus audiences. His work will appear before A Midsummer Night's Dream, running Feb. 5-14.

Blown away by the sound and backstory of Dhafer Youssef, a Tunisian musician who plays a string instrument known as the oud, Cong aimed to evoke the look, feel and culture of the Middle East.

"There's not very much of a storyline," said Cong, who danced with the National Ballet of China before landing in Tulsa in 1999. "I just wanted to bring up the energy. There will be a total of four movements with five tracks."

Even the impression of moving through sand will play a part in his piece, he said.

"Every single movement has its own rhythm and a different feeling, mood and motion," Cong added. "Some movement is very intense."

Later this season, BalletMet veteran Jimmy Orrante returns to the choreographer's role after his interpretation of The Great Gatsby met with rave reviews last year. His latest short work will stage before Carmina Burana, coming March 5-13.

"It's a different animal because every part of it is you," Orrante said of choreography, which he's undertaken since 2004. "With dancing, you do your little roles. With choreography you're in charge of every little detail."

Though in the beginning stages, his piece will include music by Rene Aubry, chosen by Orrante for its smooth rhythms and interesting beats.

"If I hear it and I can see movement to it, I like it," he added.