Photo by Ari Denison

Heaven and Earth

It took two years of moving Heaven and Earth through the tangled mess of rescheduling brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Eugene Ballet will finally land on stage this weekend with two performances of Heaven and Earth. The world premiere of the 40-minute, eight-movement ballet got its start as a 20-minute tone poem, composed for percussionists by University of Oregon Professor Pius Cheung. That piece explores the dynamic of an ethereal Heaven versus the powerful grounding of Earth. Cheung, an internationally known percussionist as well as a composer, agreed to work with Suzanne Haag, Eugene Ballet’s resident choreographer, to expand the piece into a ballet. It’s much more improvisational and less driven by narrative than the company’s past performances, Haag notes. “This means my choreography and the dancers performing it need to be open to listening for transitions that could end up being 30 seconds earlier or later than expected,” she says. Live music from Orchestra Next’s percussion ensemble — featuring Cheung and Eriko Daimo — will accompany the dancers. Also this weekend, the ballet company performs the Oregon premiere of Age of Innocence choreographed by Edwaard Liang, with score by Philip Glass and Thomas Newman.  

Eugene Ballet’s performance of Heaven and Earth and Age of Innocence is 7:30 pm Saturday, April 16 and 2 pm Sunday, April 17 at Silva Concert in the Hult Center. Tickets are $25 to $60, and $15 youth and college tickets are available.