You could call Stevie Dunham a foxy lady. When she’s dancing the role of a mischievous fox in the spring dance showcase of the Robinson Ballet, she definitely is.
The choreographer of the dance, which is titled “Tally-Ho,” is company co-founder Keith Robinson, one of five choreographers whose pieces will be performed this Friday and Saturday at the Bangor Opera House, and then the next weekend at The Grand theater in Ellsworth.
Robinson’s piece was inspired by his experiences growing up in Colorado, where he participated in fox hunts with the Arapahoe Hunt Club — except the foxes in his case were replaced by coyotes.
“I never really thought about it for years and years,” said Robinson. “My mother just turned 83, and she still participates in hunts. I started to think about it again, and then all the memories came back really quickly.”
Dunham is the fox in question, pursued by horses, hounds and hunters during the 25-minute dance, one of the longer pieces in the showcase. Other choreographers include Dunham herself, with her piece “Oneiric Memories,” inspired by Salvador Dali; Belfast dancer Courtney Porter; longtime Robinson Ballet dancer and in-structor Terry Lacy, and special guest Aszure Barton.
Make that very special guest Aszure Barton, who is an artist-in-residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City. Barton has choreographed for the National Ballet of China, the Ballet Jazz du Montreal, the Sydney Dance Company in Australia, the Martha Graham Dance Company and for the recent Broadway production of “The Threepenny Opera,” among many others.
While she’s not exactly a household name, Barton is one of the most acclaimed dancers of recent decades, handpicked by Mikhail Baryshnikov to work with him and his various companies. So it’s also no small matter that Barton asked Keith and Maureen Robinson’s son Ian to work with her through her own company, Aszure & Artists Foundation.
Barton and Ian Robinson will travel to Bangor later this week to participate in both weekends of performances. Barton will conduct a master class for Robinson Ballet students and other local dancers at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, at the Robinson Ballet studios on Main Street in Bangor.
“It was very last-minute that she decided to come up with Ian,” said Maureen Robinson. “It was a wonderful and very welcome surprise. It’s an incredible opportunity for our students to work with someone of her caliber.”
The focus of most of the pieces to be performed at the showcase is, of course, ballet. But this year, the Robinsons invited Courtney Porter of the Belfast Dance Studio to choreograph a few ballroom dance-inspired pieces for the show.
“I’m doing a swing piece, a tango piece and a samba piece,” said Porter. “It’s interesting to work with ballet dancers, because while they start out tighter and using traditional ballet movements, they loosen up very quickly and switch into swing. It’s a lot of fun.”
Lacy has set the epic, sensual music from Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” to dance, working with his collaborator Molly Schenck. Basing the story on the play and film “The Lion in Winter,” Lacy places his “Carmina” in the world of a corporate boardroom.
“It’s based on the characters of King Henry and Queen Eleanor, among others,” said Lacy, an accomplished dancer who by day runs Central Street Yoga Studio in Bangor. “I didn’t want to play it period, though, so I thought placing it in the dynamic of a corporation would make it contemporary. It’s also very striking imagery. And the music is just so exciting and dramatic.”
Rounding out the show will be several pieces choreographed by Barton, performed by her and Ian Robinson. Naturally, Maureen and Keith Robinson are pleased that their son is coming home to Bangor to participate in the showcase. The fact that he’s bringing Barton with him is gravy.
“It’s really nice that for all your world experience, and how busy your life is, that you still come back home,” said Maureen Robinson.
The Robinson Ballet’s spring dance showcase will performed at 7 p.m. April 3 and 4 at the Bangor Opera House, and at 7 p.m. April 10 and 11 at The Grand in Ellsworth. Tickets are $14 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for students and children. Tickets are available at the box offices of both theaters. For more information, visit www.robinsonballet.org.