Danse Macabre: New Jersey Ballet Summons "Ghosts"
Ghostly appearances, scary shadows, eerie creaks and unexplained noises: It’s that bone-chilling time of year. Many of us are inspired by Halloween to conjure fear-provoking settings or tell disquieting ghost stories. Similarly, choreographers have created frightening or supernatural pieces over the years, from “Giselle” to “Thriller.” New Jersey Ballet has assembled several of these spirited works for “Ghosts of the Ballet,” presented by Centenary Stage Company at the David and Carol Lackland Center's Sitnik Theatre in Hackettstown on Saturday, October 27 at 8 p.m. For more than half a century, New Jersey Ballet has thrilled audiences from Bergen to Cape May counties with top-quality professional ballet. The program includes five works, each of which lends a ghoulish feel to the evening: “Death and the Maiden,” choreographed by Robert North to the music of Franz Schubert, tells of the struggle between Death and the girl he has chosen for his victim. The dance explores the panic, desperation and peace of dying. The maiden beats uselessly against Death’s muscular frame, yet the audience knows what will happen in the end. This is a hauntingly beautiful work. “Masquerade” takes a case of mistaken identity to a masked ball. As Robert Johnson, dance critic for The Star-Ledger, described one of New Jersey Ballet’s performances of the work, “(“Masquerade”) … may make you shiver. Even the corps women have a terrific attack, seeming eager to throw themselves into the circling figures of the waltz.” Choreographed by Bettijane Sills, the piece is danced to the haunting music of Khachaturian. “The Raven.” Nothing says Halloween as well as a work inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. Choreographed by David Fernández, “The Raven” follows the story of the poem, with the unwelcome midnight creature reminding the narrator of the sorrow he feels over his love’s death and that he will see her “nevermore.”
“The Kingdom of the Shades” from “La Bayadère.” The full-length “La Bayadère” (The Temple Dancer) includes much to shriek about: love, jealousy, betrayal, death and ghosts. New Jersey Ballet will perform the most celebrated passage of the ballet, the grand vision known as “The Kingdom of the Shades.” In the scene, the heartsick warrior Solor dreams or imagines being reunited with his recently murdered love.
Black Swan Pas de Deux from “Swan Lake.” Thanks to the 2010 Academy Award-winning movie “Black Swan,” no one should be surprised that the Black Swan (Odile) easily would be voted the most evil ballet character. Her wickedness certainly earns this pas de deux a place among the doomed.
“Ghosts of the Ballet” is an excellent way to celebrate the season and rouse your Halloween spirit. New Jersey Ballet, voted the state's favorite dance company in 2009 and 2010 in polls conducted by Jersey Arts Marketers, knows how to give an audience thrills and chills — even without the ghostly theme. Considering the company’s technique and tricks, this performance is sure to be a treat. Centenary Stage Company is at 400 Jefferson St., Hackettstown. Tickets are $27.50 in advance ($32.50 on day of performance). Tickets for seniors and students are $25 in advance ($30 on day of performance). Children under 12 are admitted for $17.50 ($22.50 day of performance). Tickets may be purchased online or by calling (908) 979-0900.