Arts Beat: Live Wires

Excitement (and fog) are in the air as Orlando Ballet and orchestra stage weekend performances of “Giselle.”

















The conductor, Eric Jacobsen, was so charged up that at one point during the rehearsal, as he led the orchestra through an especially vigorous passage, his baton flew out of his hand and clattered into the front row.

Robert Hill was just as giddy.

“I love it,” said Jacobsen. “It’s show time!”

“We’re live,” said Hill. “This is not Memorex!”

Hill is the artistic director of Orlando Ballet. Jacobsen is the new music director of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. They are collaborating this week for the first time in a production of Giselle, a classic tale in the broken-hearted-lover vein, which will be performed at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Friday and Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

More often than not, over the past few years, the ballet’s dancers have performed to recorded music. Having a live orchestra to work with has required some adjustments – for both the orchestra and the dancers.

During rehearsal, a special-effects fog rolled across the stage and into the orchestra pit, temporarily enveloping musicians who had to fan the mist away from the sheet music in front of them.  Meanwhile the dancers, who’d been rehearsing to recorded music, missed a step or two as they had to readjust to the richer but less rigid tones of a live orchestra.

But no one’s complaining. There’s an entirely different dynamic in a performance that blends dancers and musicians in real time.

“There’s so much more spontaneity. You’re in the moment. It’s not canned. And there’s more precision, more fine tuning opportunities, with a live orchestra,” said Hill, who spent most of the rehearsal in a front row seat, inches away from Jacobsen, sorting through transitions and tempo changes, checking in with the soloists to see if the tempo suited them.

At one point, a ballerina paused at center stage, clasped her hands, looked at Jacobsen and wondered: “Can we have it a little faster?”

Her new collaborators fanned away the fog and happily obliged.



Categories: Arts Beat