After just 12 days of rehearsal, The Snowstorm was presented at the Portland Actors Conservatory last weekend. It’s still a work in progress, but worth noting. A dance-theater work by Drammy-Award winner Eric Nordin, The Snowstorm is lovely. The music is a compilation of Sergei Rachmaninoff piano solos—however the script is original, written by Nordin and William Sam Gregory; the piece takes place in 19th-century Russia.

The Snowstorm marries delicious 19th-century melodrama (see: unrequited love, ghosts) with conservative Russian dress and the occasional ghoulish mask. The music is live (played on the piano by Nordin). The dance (choreographed by Jessica Wallenfels), is a modern response to the Romantic tunes of Rachmaninoff; laundry is folded and snapped in time to the music; two friends throw themselves on a bed in delight, exposing the legs beneath their conservative skirts.

Whoop! Jamie Rea and Ashlee Waldbauer
  • Jenny Graham
  • Whoop! Performers Jamie Rea and Ashlee Waldbauer

The plot follows a tangled story of a widower, a young boy, and a jilted young woman. Dreams bleed into reality; dancers serve as the weather in a choreographed scene of a storm. All the meanwhile are the achy, sweepy tunes of Rachmaninoff, a la this. The production is developed partially through the support of PAC LAB (a program of Portland Actor’s Conservatory); funds from a RACC grant have helped make it possible.

The workshop performance is promising—a fuller performance will debut in 2014; stay tuned!