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The history of “Tobi Roppo”
The older Sabatino Verlezza, with the help of his wife Barbara Verlezza, worked together to create “Tobi Roppo,” a Japanese kabuki, 25 years ago. At the time of the premiere, the Verlezzas were working as soloist dancers in New York with American dance pioneer and choreographer May O’Donnell.
The dance premiered in 1986 after Sabatino had been working on it for a year. It was performed at the Joyce Theater in New York City when Grand Kabuki (a troupe of Japanese performers) came to the city.
The ballet contains four sections: First you see the light, which contains a duet. Then you feel the heat, which contains a quartet. Then there is nothing, which is a solo. Rebirth is the fourth movement, which contains a sextet. He added this to express the rebirth of the cities after the bombings.
Sabatino said he gave his dance to the students through his wife, Barbara, an associate professor at Kent State.
Barbara said the dance reached Kent State after talking with the artistic director of the Kent State Dance Ensemble, Kimberly Karpanty.
“For me, it is always trying to enlighten through my art form,” Sabatino said. “It is not to make people feel bad, but to learn, to understand, to look at ourselves like a mirror. So hopefully, that we learn from our past.”
Contact Shauna Carter at [email protected]