Raison D’être Dance Project presents Rachmaninov + Plutonia

Else Trygstad-Burke  |   Wednesday Jun. 1st, 2022

Raison D’être Dance Project returns to the stage in Bozeman on Friday, June 10th and Saturday, June 11th with two contemporary works. The production Rachmaninov + Plutonia evolved over the course of the past three years and is a testament to the resilience and creativity of artists and performers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The company, known for its collaborations between visual artists, musicians, dancers, choreographers, and designers, will present an immersive audience experience with a “stage-in-the-round” performance format.

The first work, Rachmaninov, will feature original choreography set to some of composer Sergei Rachmaninov’s most interesting and virtuosic works. “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini” will be performed by a live orchestra with guest pianist Alexei Ulitin and conductor Michael Sakir. Rachmaninov’s composition was inspired by virtuoso violinist Niccoló Paganini’s Caprice No. 24 for solo violin, and translates the original theme into an expansive and dramatic work for orchestra and solo piano. This musical work is often considered one of the greatest musical showstoppers of the 20th century, and features everything from hints of dance music to the vast Dies Irae found in traditional requiem masses. The company’s choreography and costume design reflects the sense of spectacle and power found in Rachmaninov’s work. The same dynamic fusion of music and choreography is also found in the shorter works being featured by the company, including the first movement of Rachmaninov’s renowned Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, a movement of the composer’s Cello Sonata in G Minor, and two Preludes. Pianist Alexei Ulitin, a native of Kyiv, Ukraine, won prizes in the 2014 Wonderlic Piano Competition and 2013 Liszt-Garrison International Piano Competition (among many other awards), and has served on the faculty of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as well, as the Aspen and Meadowmount music festivals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    photo by Blair Speed

The second work, Plutonia, is a space ballet featuring a high-powered electronic score written by local composer Nina Tucciarelli. Plutonia explores themes of loneliness, exile, and inner madness through a theme of space travel. The company has been working with a professional aerialist “to take our movement into a new plane.” One of the pieces in Plutonia has a live neurofeedback element. Consisting of eight dancers wearing brain-wave sensing headsets, the piece begins with each dancer doing their own improvised movement. Slowly, two by two, the dancers join their movements to those of the “leader” and begin a contemporary dance technique called “flocking,” where all the dancers follow the leader in movement improvised on the spot. Towards the end of the piece, the dancers come together in choreographed movement, dancing in total synchronicity. With the data from the headsets projected onto screens during the piece, this live-action experiment will reveal whether the brain waves become coherent as the dancers start to move together. This could have huge implications for further research on dance as a healing mechanism — how moving together can help heal divided groups and communities through shared experience.

Performances take place on June 10th at 7:30 pm, and on June 11th at 6:00 pm at The Commons at Baxter and Love (1794 Baxter Lane E) in Bozeman. Abundant parking is available onsite. Audience members are requested to have their e-ticket to show for entry, or to provide their printed ticket. Tickets are available at https://www.raisondetredance.org.

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