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Dance Arts Unlimited's advanced ballet students performed in OperaBend's film

MADRAS PIONEER - Ballet dancers from Dance Arts Unlimited in Madras were filmed at the Performing Arts Center in front of a green screen. Pictured are Kylie Borchert and Landen Graves.

Madras ballet dancers are part of a recently released YouTube virtual opera film.

Members of Dance Arts Unlimited's advanced ballet class performed in "Cavalleria Rusticana," an opera by Pietro Mascagni presented by OperaBend. The "virtual" opera was filmed using green screen technology where backgrounds were set in place post-performance.

The brainchild of Jason Stein, the director and a lead tenor of OperaBend, the production allowed the opera group's singers to perform when they otherwise would not have been able to because of the pandemic. The opera included 11 singers plus a conductor and post-production staff.

The singers were filmed with green screen backing, by themselves, but when the editing was done, the singers were sharing the stage in beautiful Italy, brought to life by the renown Sisters artist Paul Bennett.

"It was strange," said Stein. "I would have to tell the singers, 'You're singing to a person on your left ... no, more to the left' when they were singing, when there was actually no one in the room with them."

But when all was put together, the opera was seamless.

The opera runs for approximately 85 minutes. The Madras ballet dancers have the stage for roughly seven minutes.

Stein has performed at the Madras Performing Arts Center several times, with the opera group and by himself as a soloist. He has worked with Dance Arts Unlimited, a Madras-based dance studio, a handful of times before. When it was suggested a ballet segment be part of his production, he reached out to the Madras studio.

Sunmiet Maben, the owner of Dance Arts Unlimited, arranged for her advanced ballet class, primarily made up of high school-aged dancers that have been in the ballet program for several years, to perform.

A dance was choregraphed to fit the classical music used in the piece, and in the spring, the class gathered at the PAC and performed in front of a green screen. When it reached post-production, the background became the interior of a spectacular Italian home.

Stein praised the Madras dancers for their part in the film.

"I've always been impressed working with the Madras kids. They're wonderful, very supportive of each other, very mature. They did a wonderful job."

Maben, who is also the lead ballet instructor at Dance Arts Unlimited, was very appreciative of the chance to contribute to the project.

"I was very excited for our dancers to have this unique opportunity and I was very proud of them. Filming is not always easy, and they handled themselves really well," said Maben.

OperaBend's "Cavalleria Rusticana"

A virtual opera movie.

How to watch:

YouTube.com and search OperaBend

Or via OperaBend's Facebook page.


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