News Column

City orchestra, dancers join up for concert

June 22, 2014

By Jocelyn Syrstad, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.

June 22--The Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra was looking to do something slightly different for its final show of the season.

A small seed of an idea was planted when someone suggested to the orchestra that it do a concert featuring live dancers. The idea was quickly set into motion and it was decided that "TrÈs Brillant: An Evening of Ballet and Chamber Music" would be the perfect way to end the orchestra's 2013-14 season.

The show, which features about 25 youth dancers from the Chippewa Valley, will be held Thursday at Florian Gardens. The event will feature a plated dinner and a silent auction. The proceeds from the event will go toward the chamber orchestra's annual free family concert, which is typically held each January.

"The idea came up back in the fall and it started as just a tiny seed of an idea," said Liz Hart, general manager of the chamber orchestra. "The more involved we got with the idea, the more excited we got. It is a great idea as we have so many great dance studios and so many talented dancers right here in Eau Claire."

The concert will feature music arranged by the orchestra's conductor Ivar Lunde Jr. The pieces are based in part on Mozart's "12 Variations on the Theme from Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

The orchestra sent a CD of all of the music to the dance instructors and from there the instructors choreographed ballet pieces for the youth dancers -- all of the dancers are between 6 and 17.

"We were given a list of songs to create dances to and, because we just started rehearsing earlier this month, we had a quick turnaround," said Ashlyn Cianciolo, one of the dance instructors and choreographers. "I created two dances. One consists of nine older dancers and has more of a circus theme. The other is a trio that has two girls and one boy -- my brother -- dancing. It's kind of two duets that blend together into one piece. The male dancer is on stage the entire piece, lucky him, while the girls transition in and out."

The collaborative event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an hour-long dinner. From there, guests will transition from the dining room to the dance floor to view the concert.

Hart said Florian Gardens was chosen as the best spot for the concert because it offered a space for both dining and dancing. She said the orchestra chose Florian Gardens over a traditional theater because the venue was better suited for a fundraising event, yet still had the space to put on a collaborative performance.

But, in the end, the venue isn't what guests will remember. According to Hart, "TrÈs Brillant" is one of the first original ballets to be performed in Eau Claire. And it's certainly not often that guests have the opportunity to hear live music and see live dancing all in one moment.

"This was a really great idea," Cianciolo said. "This is an opportunity for multiple area groups to get together and work together on something. It's great for the chamber orchestra and it's a great experience for the dancers to perform with people they might not have otherwise. I think we're all nervous to perform live together, but I think at the same time everyone is really excited."

Syrstad can be reached at 715-833-9206, 800-236-7077 or


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Source: Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, WI)

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