Eugene Ballet to perform 'Scheherazade' on Feb. 4 in Richland

Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 29, 2014 

Eugene Ballet dancers portraying ladies from the harem in Scheherazade are, from left, Victoria Harvey, Heather Wallace and Avalon Demetri.


RICHLAND -- The Eugene Ballet will bring the classic ballet Scheherazade to the Tri-Cities on Feb. 4 as part of the Community Concerts Tri-Cities series.

Though the program also includes short dance scenes from Idyll for Eight, Two's Company and Ravel's Bolero, Scheherazade is the main event of the evening.

Scheherazade was a legendary storyteller who became a Persian queen. Her tale is as romantic as it is violent.

As the story goes, King Shahryar was an angry man after he discovered his wife had been unfaithful. His grief turned bitter and he swore to marry a different virgin every night, only to then have her killed the next morning.

When Scheherazade was chosen as the next virgin, she bewitched the king by telling him a story that stopped short of the ending because dawn approached.

Intrigued, the king spared her life with the promise that she will return the following night and continue the story. This went on for 1,001 nights until the king forgot his bitterness and fell in love with Scheherazade.

And so, 1,001 Tales of the Arabian Nights was born.

Composed by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1888, the Eugene Ballet's version of Scheherazade is equally romantic, but with a slightly different storyline.

Choreographed by Dennis Spaight, it takes the audience on the same exotic trip to Persia where an evil Sultan, along with his Golden Slave, rules with a cruel hand. But instead of the Sultan falling in love with the slave girl Scheherazade, it is the Golden Slave who is bewitched.

The Sultan finds out, arrests the Golden Slave and decides Scheherazade will be his next unlucky bride. But the Golden Slave escapes his captors, rescues Scheherazade and whisks her away to a magical garden in the palace. They are found, and a battle ensues. When Scheherazade steps in to fight, she dies.

But then again, is she really dead? Only a trip to the Richland auditorium will answer that question.

The Register Guard in Eugene called the ballet, "Smooth and romantic ... innocent and cheeky ... enchanting ... haunting ... delightful."

Bolero is another interpretation of the original, which was composed by Maurice Ravel.

"This will be my first interpretation of Bolero, and will be danced in a contemporary ballet style," said artistic director Toni Pimble in an email to the Herald. "It begins with a single female dancer alone on stage (then) builds into a riot of color and movement as the stage fills with passionate dancers and reaches a stunning climax charged with electricity as the full company flings themselves into the final raucous notes of Bolero."

Showtime is 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Richland High School. Admission is by season ticket to Community Concerts or individual tickets cost $25 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets are available by calling 547-6242 or 946-1162.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;; Twitter: @dorioneal

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