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Skidmore College

Collaboration leads to spectacular production

April 7, 2015

The Skidmore College Orchestra and Dance Department team up to stage Tchaikovsky’s renowned Sleeping Beauty Friday through Sunday, April 10–12, in the college’s Arthur Zankel Music Center. It is Skidmore’s most ambitious orchestra and dance collaboration yet.

Performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. Friday, April 10, and Saturday, April 11; and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 12, at the Zankel Music Center. Admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors and Skidmore community, free for students and children. For tickets, please visit

Premiered in St. Petersburg in 1890, Sleeping Beauty is considered the ultimate grand classical ballet. Set in Baroque style, it celebrates the triumph of good over evil and features a large cast of storybook characters. This production marks the third collaborative project for professors Denise Warner Limoli, who teaches “Classical Ballet Workshop,” and Anthony Holland, who conducts the Skidmore Orchestra. They earlier collaborated on productions of Swan Lake in 2011 and An Evening with the Ballets Russes in 2013. and

“I counted my cast the other day and the total came to 79—without understudies,” says Limoli. ”We have never done anything this grand.”

It was to enable such cross-departmental works that the college included an orchestra pit in the Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall when it built the Arthur Zankel Music Center. For Limoli, “There’s no comparing dancing to recorded music vs. dancing to a live orchestra. Dancing is a right-now-in-the-moment experience. When the orchestra is playing and the dancers are dancing, it’s a thrilling, symbiotic relationship.”

It’s especially exciting when the score is one of Tchaikovsky’s great works. In Sleeping Beauty, Limoli says, “we find Tchaikovsky at his grandest and most melodic, and the orchestra has done spectacular work on it.”

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Since the full ballet lasts four hours, Limoli and Holland spent much of last summer developing what Limoli calls a “very condensed but very legitimate” 90-minute version. Limoli is confident that “no one is going to say, ‘Where was this dance or that dance?’ People are going to hear all the beautiful music with which they’re familiar and see all the beautiful dances. All we’ve cut is nonessential story-telling.”

The entire two-hour program will open with a performance by Filene Scholar Joseph Eisele ’17 of Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major.

Conducting auditions last November and holding rehearsals at the rate of two to five per week since January, Limoli has assembled an outstanding cast with sophomore Merritt Rosen in the lead role of Princess Aurora. As with the two previous ballet productions in Zankel, Kim Vanyo is designing the costumes, Garrett Wilson the scenery, and Shawn Dubois the lighting.

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