Rebellious Russians bring Orchestra Iowa and Ballet Quad Cities joint show to Coralville

Orchestra Iowa and Ballet Quad Cities are teaming up tonight at the Coralville Center for Performing Arts to put on their show Rebellious Russians.


Samantha Murray, Arts Reporter

The main performance hall of The Coralville Center for Performing Arts will soon fill with the deep rumble of intense compositions sharing the stage with pale flashes of dancing ballerinas. Orchestra Iowa and Ballet Quad Cities will present their show Rebellious Russians tonight at 7:30 p.m.

The Rebellious Russian program is formed from the music of three different Russian composers and their major compositions: Dmitri Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony, Igor Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks Concerto, and Alexander Borodin’s Polovtsian Dance.

Each of these men performed subverted many parts of traditional Russian music. Shostakovich’s life was threatened by Stalin because of his rebellious nature, and Stravinsky fled Russia after the October Revolution. Borodin, although he was of Georgian ancestry, represented the Golden Age of Tsarist Russian music.

Shostakovich was required to add Russian folk music to part of his 5th symphony — which he puts into the music of the second movement — writing it in an ironic style to poke fun at apparatchiks (members of the Soviet communist party).

“Musically, I love Stravinsky because it requires great precision, and musicians really like to sink their teeth into that,” orchestra director Timothy Hankewich said. “In terms of just absolute power though, it’s Shostakovich for me that I’m really looking forward to. It really allows the brass to let their hair down.”

Ballet Quad Cities artistic director Courtney Lyon created an intense piece of choreography for the performance, using nine dancers to complement the music of Stavinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks Concerto.

Despite the many collaborations between Orchestra Iowa and Ballet Quad Cities, they have never before brought their joint show to Iowa City or Coralville. In an email to the DI, Lyon wrote she was excited to take her the show to the Iowa City-Coralville area.

“I have a personal connection to the community, as I received my B.F.A. in dance from the University of Iowa in 1999,” Lyon wrote. “I have such fond memories of my time living in the Iowa City community and at [the UI]. It is such a unique, rich environment.”

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Jeffrey Collier is responsible for organizing, advertising, and fundraising for Orchestra Iowa. In an interview with the DI, he emphasised how the show is for any audience but would especially make a good show for a first timer to one of their shows.

“The program is really very fast with winds playing and then strings and then heavy pounding percussion and brass,” Collier said. “It should actually be a really fun program for audiences of all ages. The sheer volume of the orchestra will really resonate with the audience.”

Orchestra Iowa has been around since 1921, although it originally started as the Cedar Rapids Symphony. When many local performance venues were destroyed during the flood of 2008, the orchestra was forced to play more outside of the Cedar Rapid metropolitan area and decided to change their name to Orchestra Iowa.

In addition to performing around Iowa, Orchestra Iowa has partnered with unique organizations to help promote positive change, according to Hankewich.

“Last year we covered issues around mental health, and we partnered with various organizations and hotline and help lines to raise awareness for that particular issue,” Hankewich said.

The Cedar Rapids-based orchestra puts on a variety of different styles of shows ranging from opera, ballet, musical theater and solo performances. Orchestra Iowa and Ballet Quad Cities in particular have a long-standing collaborative relationship.

“We’ve done the three great ballets Rite of Spring, Firebird, and Petrushka with them [Ballet Quad Cities],” Hankewich said. “We’ve also done less well-known works for dance such as Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, so we’ve been partnering with them for quite some time, and it’s an interesting dynamic.”

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