RIC alumnae, students bring “Tour de Ballet” to campus, May 11, 12

From left, choreographer Mia Nocera Godbout '01 and composer Christy Isles '10 have created "Tour de Ballet." (Photo: The State Ballet of Rhode Island)
RIC alums Mia Nocera Godbout ’01 and Christy Isles ’10 have come together to compose and choreograph “SAFARI,” one act in the contemporary six-movement “Tour de Ballet” written specially for The State Ballet of Rhode Island (SBRI).

The world premiere of “Tour de Ballet” will debut at RIC on Friday, May 11, at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., and Saturday, May 12, at 2:30 p.m. in the Auditorium in Roberts Hall. The performance will feature several RIC grads and current students.

Godbout is a resident choreographer and Isles is a composer for SBRI, the longest standing semi-professional ballet company in the state, and one of the oldest in the country that seeks to create, present and extend classical dancing repertoire to the widest possible audience.

Watch the Warwick Beacon’s video on Isles and Godbout’s collaboration for SBRI here.

“Tour de Ballet” is made of smaller ballets from composers around the world, and 21-minute long “SAFARI” is the first act of that show. Peggy Chobanian ’09 is one of the leading dancers in the performance, and current RIC student Kimberly Najjar is a soloist.

Ana Marsden Fox, executive director of SBRI, approached Nocera Godbout last summer with music composed by Isles and suggested they collaborate for the spring show.

“I jumped at the chance after hearing a few samples,” said Nocera Godbout. “The music was beautiful and I could already envision dancing to it.”

Most recently, Nocera Godbout has collaborated with David Ira Rottenberg, author of “Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig,” to create a ballet that compliments his live reading of the book.

Nocera Godbout and Rottenberg will give a performance of “Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig” in the lobby of Roberts Hall at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, with a backstage tour to follow for children, all free with a paid ticket to “Tour de Ballet.”

Though Nocera Godbout has choreographed several shorter pieces for SBRI, “SAFARI” represents her biggest and largest one-act ballet to date.

Dancer Emily Heir will be performing in "Tour de Ballet." (Photo: The State Ballet of Rhode Island)
An 11-piece orchestra – which will include Isles on cello or piano – will play live music, making “Tour de Ballet” the first concert where SBRI dancers perform with a live ensemble since the late 1960s, said Godbout.

“There is a strong sense of community between the dancers and musicians – we have all learned to work together,” said Nocera Godbout. “The dancers have really had a unique opportunity, have learned to connect to the music and have been flexible. They now see how anything can happen in live performance, and understand how important it is to follow the music.”

SBRI has called “Tour de Ballet” “an around-the-world-performance” because it will utilize different styles of song and dance from across the globe, including the “Tarantella” from Italy, the “Can-Can” from France, the “Don Quixote Pas de Deux” from Spain and East Slavic epic Polovtsian dances from Alexander Borodin’s “Prince Igor,” which Godbout describes as “a colorful setting with marvelous moments of drama and characterization.”

A Celtic ballet from Ireland and romantic waltzes from Vienna will also be performed.

The concert will also serve as the debut performance for the first members and musicians of the Rhode Island Modern Music Project, a non-profit organization founded by Isles that strives to build and nourish a community of music appreciation and provide high quality performances and educational programming.

SBRI is sponsored in part by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the Rhode Island Public Broadcasting Service.

Tickets for “Tour de Ballet” are $30, with discounts available for students with school identification ($20) and children under the age of 12 ($16). For your convenience, tickets can be purchased as follows: in advance via Visa, MasterCard or Discover by calling (401) 456-8144 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays; or in person at the Nazarian Center Box Office in Roberts Hall. The Box Office is also open for sales two hours prior to performance start time in the appropriate show venue.

A limited number of discounted tickets ($20) are available through The State Ballet of Rhode Island at (401) 334-2560 or info@stateballet.com.

For more information, contact Mia Nocera Godbout at mianocera@yahoo.com.