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Emily of Amherst

In the Wood and Fields

Emily in the West Cemetary

(The video stays black until the poem ends)

Emily Apart


Emily of Amherst was created over a two year period by Catherine Fair, Director of Amherst Ballet, and Jane Wald, Director of the Emily Dickinson Museum, and many talented people with whom they worked.  It is a lovely, touching, instructive, unique ballet.

In every respect the creative process began with the history of Emily Dickinson: her period of time, her setting, her personality, her contribution to literature.  Music known to be in her repertoire was mined by Ted Trobaugh to compose original music to which choreography was set.  Costumes were designed to evoke Emily’s period, creatively adapted to permit free range of ballet motion.  Sets were planned and built to establish scenes from Emily’s life yet be minimalist and quickly changeable.  Choreography was created from graceful ballet movements sequenced to reveal Emily’s growth, development, activities, and relationships.  And the whole is especially effectively tied together as each scene begins with a reading, in different voices, from Emily’s own letters or poems, establishing for the viewer the place in Emily’s life of the scene that is about to unfold.  Fabulous!!

The final remarkable aspect of the ballet is the way it brings the relevance of Emily’s work into present time.  “The Poets light but Lamps…Each Age a Lens Disseminating their Circumference” – and so, in a final scene, we are treated to choreography of Emily’s words and themes in a timeless manner, and then in a distinctly modern manner, both of them through the medium of music and dance.

The ballet is a joy to take in, visually and aurally, mentally and emotionally.  It represents a tremendous amount of creativity.  It would be a travesty if it were not able to be shared in many situations into the future.

Jean Rankin

Carlisle PA

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