When BalletMet first brought F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" to the stage in 2009, it was a resounding success, making its run from Feb. 6-14 - the first performance since 2009 - a welcome return. Veteran BalletMet company member Jimmy Orrante choreographed the original, and reworked the composition for this version, maintaining the overall appeal while making some tweaks here and there.
When BalletMet first brought F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” to the stage in 2009, it was a resounding success, making its run from Feb. 6-14 — the first performance since 2009 — a welcome return. Veteran BalletMet company member Jimmy Orrante choreographed the original, and reworked the composition for this version, maintaining the overall appeal while making some tweaks here and there.
“I saw a video of ‘The Great Gatsby’ [from 2009] and it was fun, intense and heartfelt. Jimmy captured the energy and essence of this huge novel,” said BalletMet artistic director Edwaard Liang. “It’s unusual that choreographers have the opportunity to come back to a work. I’m really happy to say that the fine-tuning he did was really fantastic.”
One of the key components to telling the story of Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan and the atmosphere of the Roaring ‘20s is making sure the complex relationships between the characters and the emotional collisions remain intact. Not to mention the opulent parties and lifestyles depicted in the novel.
It’s very difficult to adapt a novelistic story, constructed mainly out of words and conversations, into a performance that only contains movement and still maintains the same emotional impact — but not impossible.
“There is so much we can convey through action. Acting and communication is more than just words. That’s the beauty of dance — we’re able to communicate things words cannot, and I’m really happy how Jimmy tapped into that way of thinking,” Liang said.
The final hurdle BalletMet and Orrante had to manage was finding the right balance between the novel’s themes, while also creating a spirited ambiance to the performance.
“Jimmy was also able to capture the fun aspect and what you think the Roaring ‘20s would be like. What I love not only about the novel, but BalletMet’s take on ‘The Great Gatsby,’ is there’s a gray juxtaposition of heartbreak, sorrow and tenderness, but such a fun, lively, bubbly atmosphere,” Liang said.
[photo credit: Jennifer Zmuda]