Don't even try to pronounce it. "Scheherazade," has almost as many consonants as core dancers (24 to be exact—performers that is). And the ballet retelling of the prologue of 1001 Arabian Nights is equally elaborate with a score by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, a haram of some fourteen rhinestone-adorned dancers, a golden slave and a murderous vengeful Sultan filling the stage.
"Twenty-four dancers. That's what it takes for 'Scheherazade,'" says Riley Grannan, managing director of the Eugene Ballet Company who will perform the classic ballet at Bend High School on Thursday, Feb. 6. "Korsakov is pretty powerful. You have to have a powerful group of people to match the music. A small anemic group doesn't do it justice."
Choreographed by Dennis Spaight for the Oregon Ballet Theater in 1990, the Eugene Ballet Company performs a Pacific Northwest-grown version of "Scheherazade." Until his death in 1993 at the age 38 from AIDS, Spaight was OBT's founding associate artistic director and resident choreographer; his work lives on, performed by the Eugene Ballet Company and others. There is a distinct style to Spaight's work: "Scheherazade" is densely feminine, and enhances the already exotic and physicality of the original groundbreaking 1910 production from Russian choreographer Michel Fokine.
The ten men and fourteen women gracefully float across the stage in flowing gowns and glittering unitards and during the intense battle scenes, the dancers slice and execute sharp, precise pirouette sequences. Eugene Ballet Company uses the full strength and numbers of its company in "Sheherazade."
As well, Thursday's performance will follow "Scheherazade" with contemporary choreography from EBC's artistic director Toni Pimble—"Two's Company" and "Bolero."
"There's some variety," assured Grannan. "People may be coming for the spectacle of 'Shararazade,' but they'll also get a free-flowing, contemporary fix for 'Bolero.'" He added, "and some poignancy with 'Two's Company.' It's just gorgeous dancing."
Eugene Ballet Presents Scheherazade and More
Thursday, Feb. 6
Bend High School, 230 NE 6th St.