By MIKE DUNHAM
I attended the dress rehearsal for Alaska Dance Theatre's "Qug'yuq," a full-length story ballet retracing the tale of "Swan Lake" with a Yup'ik twist. The piece mixes standard ballet with a couple of "yuraq" (Yup'ik dance) episodes. The primary music is drawn from Mahler's 2nd and 10th symphonies.
In the first act, a girl is transformed into a swan by Raven. Unless my ears fooled me, two Yup'ik pieces were included in the Village scene in the first act, the second of which was "Marualrianek" ("Howling Spirits"); I didn't recognize the first. The two dovetailed into each other.
I particularly liked the 2nd act. Various animals came out to inspect the hero, who was put into a deep sleep by Raven to keep him from abscounding with the girl. A fox, a pair of ermine, various birds and bugs, a bunch of bunnies, and I don't know what else. Bring binoculars and make your best guess.
This scene was followed by more action in the village and what I found the most exciting part of the show, the big ensemble number which used break-dance moves with the song "Cayuurlakunguur" ("Pulling from Within"), an excellent choice. The high point was combining ballet, hip-hip and yuraq. You won't see that too often.
After a fight with a tragic ending, the story ends happily, but - be prepared - softly, on a quiet number rather than a big climax.
"Qug'yuq" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night at the Discovery Theatre. No additional performances have been announced.