Senior brings original ballet to North Alabama

by Associate Life Editor Tyler Hargett

Senior Jeremy Smith will present the first premiere of a ballet, “The Singularity,” in North Alabama at the Zodiac Theater April 21 and 22.

The plot revolves around a computer suddenly gaining the ability to feel and how it comes to term with its newfound emotions.

Smith said each of the three acts represent a different phase, describing the ballet as “the coming-of-age story told through the eyes of a computer.”

“It mirrors the stages we all go through as we develop into realizing the power that’s in ourselves,” he said. “(It is) a familiar story told in an unfamiliar way.”

Smith said western classical, rock, indie and alternative music, as well as film scores, influence the ballet, making it different from classical music style of “The Nutcracker.”

Smith said the idea for the ballet came from discussions with a fellow philosophy minor. The two discussed the idea of singularity, a hypothetical point in time where artificial intelligence advances to the same level as human intelligence.

Smith wrote the ballet over the course of about a month while staying at Azule Art Residency in North Carolina last June. Every day, he worked between 10 and 16 hours on the ballet.

Smith said he had a piano in his room, which he used along with composing software to create the music.

However, there was more to the ballet than the music. Since June, Smith has spent time finding musicians, rehearsing, booking dates, finding a venue, marketing on social media and studying the budget. He will also conduct the music both nights.

It was up to sophomore Karlee Mauk to create the choreography and bring it onstage as the dancer.

“I took a few notes on how I wanted to communicate with the audience the plot of the story, and then I went from there,” Mauk said.

Mauk has been training in ballet since age three and currently is a member of the UNA Lionettes danceline.

Smith said he always wanted to study composition, but it was unavailable when he started at UNA.

After taking a year and a half off break from college, Smith came back to find composition lessons were available. He now majors in instrumental music with a minor in philosophy.

Smith said he would not have started composing without the help of music instructor Sam Merciers.

“Jeremy has been a standout the entire time because he’s so prolific,” Merciers said.

The ballet uses two flutists, three clarinetists, a bass clarinetist, a percussionist and a keyboardist to perform the music.

Merciers said he thinks the ballet will get a standing ovation. Mauk said it is “like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”

The ballet will start at 8:30 p.m. on both nights. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Shoals Theatre Box Office, The Eclectic, Underground Art & Sound, Eleven-54 on Wood, Traditions Barbershop and Blank Comics, or through the production’s performers and musicians.

For more information, contact the Zodiac Theatre at 256-764-1700.