Owing to its considerable beauty and symbolic formations, Mount Timpanogos is surrounded by many legends.
From the southwest, the Timpanogos peaks are said resemble the silhouette of a sleeping woman, and internally resides the Heart of Timpanogos, a magnificent stalactite which has the appearance of a human heart.
A ballet adaptation, “Legend,” was created based on this folklore, a project that began in 1982 and took 10 years to produce. It originated in the mind of Jacqueline Colledge, founding director of Utah Regional Ballet (URB), and was embellished by many additional individuals.
From Colledge’s choreography to the musical artistry of composer Micheal D. Babbitt and the narrative adaptation of June Chipman Bell, the production has met considerable success due to the collaborative brilliance of those involved.
“Over the years ‘Legend’ has burned a special place in my heart and the hearts of the many
dancers who have performed it,” said Colledge in a recent press release. “There is also a spirit surrounding this ballet that makes it appealing to audiences around the world. The dramatic love triangle seems to leave a lasting effect.”
Considered the URB’s signature performance, the ballet has become a Utah Valley tradition, and on Feb. 26 and 27 the company graced fortunate audiences with this performance once again at the Covey Center for the Arts.
Relating the story through dance and body language, the performance captured an essence which cannot be conveyed through mere words. The talented cast did exceptional justice to the tragic tale of Timpanac of the Nez Perce nation and his star-crossed romance with the beautiful Ucanogos of the Fish-Eater tribe which culminates in their love being forever monumentalized in Mount Timpanogos.
Joni Tuttle faithfully captured the spirit of Ucanogos as she acted out each scene with genuine emotion, while the alternate night she was played by Rachelle Jardine. Brian Debes, and alternately Christopher Young, endeared the audience to Timpanac as he humbly conquered his enemies in the pursuit of deep love.
The choreography embodied grace, passion, danger and distress as it was enacted by the performers. Rather than watching an ordinary dance performance, it seemed as though the actual legend was playing out before the audience under the combined influence of the cast, costuming, music and stage scenery, all of which brought the story to life.
The ballet was further enhanced by the authentic contributions of Julius R. Chavez, who has intimately studied Native American traditions under his grandfather, a Navajo medicine man. As chieftain and father of Ucanogos, Chavez brought added legitimacy to the production through his knowledge of Native American sign language and customs.
URB offers a diversity of performances throughout the year, and each is sure to be similarly captivating. To find out more about URB visit UtahRegionalBallet.org. If you are an arts enthusiast, you won’t want to miss their next production.