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Roxey combines ballet and conversation in “Carmina Burana”

Ballet is a wordless art form, its fantastical stories and often powerful emotions expressed solely through a physical language of exquisite body movements.

But there promises to be much talking in the Roxey Ballet’s upcoming “Carmina Burana” performances.

Presented at the ballet company’s Canal Studio Theatre in Lambertville, N.J., at 4 and 7 p.m. March 9, and 1 and 4 p.m. March 10, the shows will offer a rare chance to experience the performance of ballet alongside revealing conversation and interactive discussions.

“The purpose is to give our local audiences a sneak peek into the design and creation of ‘Carmina Burana,’ which I recently choreographed,” said Mark Roxey, founding director of the Roxey Ballet.

Well-known to classical music fans, the popular “Carmina Burana,” which premiered in 1937, is typically performed as a stand-alone musical work. However, its composer, Carl Orff, originally intended his cantata (a setting of 24 Medieval poems for vocal soloists, choirs and musical instruments) to be accompanied by live stage action and visual design.

At the Roxey Ballet presentations, dance performances with be interspersed with discussion and commentary from the choreographer and from conductor Ryan James Brandau.

“He’s a young conductor with lots of knowledge to share about the original poems and the musical structures of ‘Carmina Burana,’ and the way that it’s brought together into an overall production,” explained Roxey.

“We’re going to be breaking it down and showing how the dance supports Carl Orff’s original idea of a total theatrical production. And the audience will be invited to participate. They will be engaged and asked questions, and we’ll be chatting with them in between the performance of each number.”

Though he lists an array of choreographers ranging from Jiri Kylian to Mark Morris, George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Paul Taylor and Jerome Robbins, as having influenced his dance style, in creating the choreography for “Carmina Burana,” Roxey tried to create movements that would precisely match the musical score. “My dance is visual music. The movements are very representative of what you’re hearing,” he explained.

Roxey’s creation of this choreography began two years ago when he was commissioned to choreograph half of the “Carmina Burana” score for a production by Princeton Pro Musica, a Princeton-based, 100-voice symphonic chorus. After its successful performance in 2017, Roxey was invited back in 2018 to choreograph the rest of the work.

Later this spring, Roxey Ballet will perform the choreography in two full-scale productions of “Carmina Burana”: one in March, at Richardson Hall on the campus of Princeton University with Princeton Pro Musica joined by members of Princeton GirlChoir; and another in April, with the Monmouth Civic Chorus at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal, N.J.

“But our Hunterdon and Bucks County audiences have not had a chance to see it done locally and may not get a chance to travel out and see those productions,” Roxey said, explaining why these upcoming informational performances of the work are so important to him.

Roxey describes his Lambertville-based troupe, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season, as “the largest professional ballet company in the smallest city in the United States.”

“And we have a strong commitment to our local audiences. We don’t want to be a community-based organization that doesn’t perform for our own community. And we want to always engage our audiences in meaningful interactions so they feel they are not just watching dance, but learning about dance. For me it’s always about how we can grow our audience’s sophistication in their knowledge of dance and the arts.”

For information, and to purchase tickets, visit or call 609-397-7616.