Ashland Youth Ballet to premier new work

Apr. 1—ASHLAND — A performance by Ashland Youth Ballet and the Huntington Symphony, set for April 23 at the Paramount Arts Center, will include the local premiere of "The Tale of the Mandarin Duck."

Written by Maesto Kimo Furumoto of the Huntington Symphony, the story is a Japanese folk tale about human relationships with creation.

Seventy dancers, including guest dancer Eric Biggs, will perform. Biggs of Lexington is the Dance Masters of America Teen Mr. Dance and will dance the lead male role.

"'The Tale of the Mandarin Duck' is certainly a highlighted piece," AYB Director Maria Whaley said. "The honor of dancing an original score is celebrated and is an exciting venture for us."

But first in the show "Symphonic Tales" will be "Peter and The Wolf," written by Sergei Prokofiev, conducted by Furumoto and narrated by WSAZ's Tim Irr.

"The vibrant costuming and humorous choreography enhance the recognizable musical themes within the score," Whaley said of what is typically an orchestral piece.

"There are a few companies who have brought the music to life through dance, but it is not a 'standard' dance work like other classics like 'Swan Lake,' 'Giselle' or 'Coppelia,'" Whaley said, noting the dance contains a good bit of humor from the hunters and the grandfather. "If these hunters had to actually hunt for their dinner, they most definitely would be going hungry!"

The third piece is Haydn's "Toy Symphony."

"'Toy Symphony' has no plot. It is dancing for the sole purpose of dancing and dancing for fun," Whaley said. "The toy instruments that the orchestra will break out will certainly lighten the spirits of all. The work gets its name from the use of the instruments that many of us used during music class in grade school."

The orchestra consists of about 40 musicians.

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