Ballet Quad Cities embodies the stories of composers who suffered the Holocaust in “Our Will to Live”

In the days leading up to a performance, Ballet Quad Cities dancers begin to take full ownership of the characters and stories they embody, said artistic associate Emily Kate Long. Dressed in their costumes and constantly ironing pieces, the artists begin to inhabit the movements they perform.

For the upcoming show this weekend, the ballet company will tell the stories of those who suffered or died in the Holocaust – the tragic and the triumphant.

“The dancers have been so invested in this whole process, it’s really remarkable how much of themselves they’ve invested,” Long said. “It’s not that they don’t do it at every performance, but especially at this one.”

“Our Will to Live” features nine pieces by Jewish composers who fled Nazi persecution or died in the Holocaust, with original choreography by Long and Courtney Lyon. The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on October 8 at the Adler Theater, 136 E. 3rd St., Davenport. Tickets are available for purchase online.

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The Ballet Quad Cities performance is one of many events focused on Holocaust remembrance taking place this fall, as part of Out of Darkness: Holocaust Messages for Today. Organizations across the Quad-Cities and beyond have organized exhibits, planned discussions and mounted films for the initiative in an effort to educate people about the Holocaust and its relevance today.

“As an organization, we always hope and work in partnership with other organizations in this community, because together we can all do more than we can alone,” Long said. “So this whole project has been a wonderful illustration of that.”

One of the pieces on which Claire Cordano will perform is a lullaby called “Wiegala”, sung by Ilse Weber, who was killed in Auschwitz with her son. The lullaby is about a peaceful evening in nature, and Cordano and the other dancers embody mothers, wives and children who support each other.

“Wiegala” and the other pieces Cordano performs in for “Our Will to Live” are the most powerful and moving she has ever been involved in, the artist said, and that weight was evident in their preparation.

“There’s such a powerful meaning behind every step we take,” Cordano said. “So the process of creating the movement had a different layer attached to it, with our intention behind each movement being very specific.”

While tackling a show like “Our Will to Live” can be more complex than it has in the past, Cordano said it’s important to broach the subject and convey the stories that might otherwise be forgotten. She changed as an artist and as a person while working on performance, and it shows the enduring power of art.

“I think throughout this process, we’ve all been deeply honored to be a part of it; it’s also been incredibly inspiring,” Cordano said. “I know we’re all looking forward to getting it on stage and performing it for everyone.”

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Ballet Quad Cities rehearses

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