The Salisbury Symphony Orchestra presented the second concert of its season with “Dance,” its annual concert geared toward families, and featuring the Piedmont Dance Theatre as guest artists. David Hagy, Music Director, conducted and provided commentary for the audience.

The Piedmont Dance Theatre, located in Kannapolis, NC, was founded in 2003 and is the only not-for-profit dance company serving Cabarrus and Rowan counties. It was founded by Rebecca Massey Wiley, who is director along with her husband, Daniel Wiley. The company has presented “Nutcracker” with the Salisbury Symphony on several previous occasions. Mr. and Mrs. Wiley also direct the Piedmont School of Music & Dance, many of whose students danced in this performance.

Opening the program was “Etudes,” set to the music of Gustav Holst’s (1874-1934) “St. Paul’s Suite.” Narrated by Rebecca Wiley, the piece demonstrates the various parts and steps of ballet, with the classical ballet dancers practicing at the barre and modern dancers practicing on the floor. Choreographed by Sheri Giller, Daniel Wiley and Rebecca Wiley, the work gave a very good introduction to those unfamiliar with dance.

Swan Lake by Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) is one of the most famous ballets of all time. The company presented the “Dance of the Swans” and the “Pas de Deux” from Act II, with Rebecca Paul as Odette and Daniel Wiley as the prince. This was a wonderful example of classical Russian ballet at its best.

One of the world’s greatest choreographers, Russian-American George Balanchine (1904-1983), used Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings for his dance entitled Serenade. The orchestra and ballet company presented the first two movements of this work, with a beautiful ensemble piece so typical of Balanchine’s work. The dancing was precise and the costumes beautiful.

Most everyone has heard or knows of the music Peter and the Wolf by Serge Prokofiev (1891-1953), the story of Peter, his grandfather, three hunters, a duck, a bird, a cat, and the big bad wolf, set to music using different instruments to portray each of the characters. However, you have probably never seen so humorous a ballet set to this music as that choreographed by Rebecca Wiley for this company. You have a bird flitting around to the flute, a duck with large flippers and swimming goggles splashing in a plastic pool to the oboe, the cat skulking around to the clarinet, the wolf prowling to the bassoon, Peter dancing to the strings, his grandfather hobbling to the French horns, and the hunters chasing to the drums. All of the solo instruments played their parts magnificently, and the dancers were equally as fine, acting out their parts with great comedic strength.

“Canvas,” choreographed by Dan Wiley and set to the second section of Music for Mishima by Philip Glass (born 1937), was the final work presented in this all-too-short program. It features a large troupe in beautiful dark costumes dancing energetically and rhythmically to the music, once again played superbly by the orchestra.

Because it bears noting, I will repeat what I have said before about the Piedmont Dance Theatre in a previous review:  “This is a company that is agile, graceful, enthusiastic, and, above all, professional, from the tiniest tot to the most senior dancer. This is an extraordinarily well-disciplined group of people. Piedmont Dance Theatre has boundless potential to become a major force in the dance world.” (December 16, 2007) The Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, of course, continues to present brilliant performances of a wide and varying repertoire for the enjoyment of all. I look forward to continued collaboration between the two organizations.