Tuesday, April 06, 2010

BalletMet: American Legends rounds out the 2009-2010 season

COLUMBUS, OHBalletMet Columbus closes its 32nd season with the soulful triple bill of American Legends: Johnny, Sammy, Stevie, April 23-May 1, 2010, at the Capitol Theatre, 77 S. High St. Three of North America’s most renowned choreographers offer three world premiere works set to the music of country music royalty, a Rat Pack crooner and a Motown superstar. The visionary James Kudelka sets his work to the music of Johnny Cash. Rising star Darrell Grand Moultrie pays tribute to the music of Sammy Davis, Jr. And famed star of stage and screen Maurice Hines presents a new work to the music of Stevie Wonder.

The choreographers, legends in their own right, were inspired by the musical genius of three musicians who shaped their musical genres and the history of American music and culture; they overcame adversity and personal struggles to inspire generations of fans and aspiring musicians and other artists. Their songs commemorate American life and the dance works in American Legends emulate that, creating an entertaining and engaging revue. Each of the three choreographers will return to Columbus in March and April to work with the company.

“I am thrilled to close our season with this lively premiere that honors the timeless music of three American icons,” said BalletMet’s Artistic Director Gerard Charles. “The dancers have enjoyed working with these incredible choreographers and performing a variety of dance styles. The energy in the studios is palpable. You can’t help but sing along!”

THE MAN IN BLACK (Music: Johnny Cash; Choreography: James Kudelka)
The BalletMet dancers trade their pointe shoes for cowboy boots in James Kudelka’s new work, The Man in Black. Kudelka felt that Johnny Cash’s songs—country music infused with touches of rockabilly, rock and roll, blues and folk—offered themselves to such iconic costuming and fitting movement style, celebrating the American spirit and ‘the working man’ with both humor and sentiment. “The songs tell stories and we are respectful of that,” Kudelka said. Most of the songs Kudelka selected for the work were recorded late in Cash’s life. “I liked the seasoned quality of his voice on these recordings,” Kudelka said.

SIMPLY SAMMY (Music: Sammy Davis, Jr.; Choreography: Darrell Grand Moultrie)
“It’s a dance tribute to the music of Sammy Davis, Jr., arguably one of the most talented entertainers of his generation,” said choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie of his work, Simply Sammy. “His music is infectious.” Moultrie’s work pays homage to Davis, Jr.’s extensive and varied songbook that spans six decades, featuring nine songs ranging from the reflective Mr. Bojangles to the playful Lady is a Tramp to the sorrowful What Kind of Fool am I. “It’s a rollercoaster ride of excitement and emotions,” Moultrie said. In honor of Sammy Davis, Jr.’s tap dance legacy, a tap dancer will join BalletMet dancers on stage. Tap dancer Marshall L. Davis, Jr., based in New York City, is a professor of tap at Queens College and is performing in the touring production of Savion Glover’s Bare Soundz.
WONDERFUL (Music: Stevie Wonder; Choreography: Maurice Hines)
When Maurice Hines met with Stevie Wonder in 2009, he told Wonder about his new work for BalletMet, Wonderful. Wonder was blown away, remarking with astonishment “ballerinas are dancing to my music?” Indeed, BalletMet dancers are celebrating Wonder’s joyful songs and his significance to American music history through Hines’ theatrical movement. “This is a celebration of what [Stevie Wonder] means to me,” Hines said. “There is such positivity in his music and the world needs that right now.” As for working with the BalletMet dancers again, following his work High C for Jazz Moves Take 2, a 2009 collaboration between BalletMet and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, the distinguished Hines said “they are wonderful, inspiring. They make me better than I am.”

American Legends performance schedule is as follows: 8pm Friday, April 23; 8pm Saturday, April 24; 2pm Sunday, April 25; 7:30pm Thursday, April 29; 8pm Friday, April 30; 8pm Saturday, May 1. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased through CAPA (614.469.0939), Ticketmaster (800.982.2787, ticketmaster.com) or balletmet.org. College students with ID can purchase $15 Student Rush tickets at the theater beginning two hours prior to show time.

ABOUT BALLETMET COLUMBUS: BalletMet Columbus, renowned for its versatility and innovative repertory, ranks among the nation’s largest dance companies, and its Dance Academy ranks among the largest professional dance-training centers. Since its inception in 1978, BalletMet has added 152 Company premieres to its repertoire and produced 124 world premieres. It has also developed DanceReach, a series of educational and outreach programs that serve nearly 30,000 people annually; through DanceReach, up to 70 scholarships each year give access to talented youth, many from minority and underserved groups, who cannot otherwise participate.
SPONSOR SUPPORT: American Legends presented with support from American Electric Power. Support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Media partners are The Columbus Dispatch, alive!, TV One, Magic 98.9, Power 107.5 and Joy 106.3. Senior Dress Rehearsal sponsor is WMNI. BalletMet Columbus receives support for its annual performance season from The Columbus Foundation, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Ohio Arts Council, Classical 89.7 WOSU-FM and Time Warner Cable.


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