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‘Beer & Ballet’ — I’ll drink to that

Besides giving you the opportunity to sip an adult beverage and sit hardly more than inches from the dancers, the Sacramento Ballet’s “Beer & Ballet” lets you see how creative these dancers are at making dance, not just doing it.

All the pieces on the program are new works created by members of the troupe, and, for the most part, they show a solid command of dance vocabulary and syntax and a maturity of style.

“Beer & Ballet” opens Saturday after a couple of recent private performances, one of which I saw for review. Of the 11 dances, there probably are half a dozen really fine ones.

Take, for example, the wonderful duet “Scars Never Seen” created by Nicole Haskins and danced by Ava Chatterson and Stefan Calka; “The Boxer,” in which choreographer Alex Stewart brings unity to a long and intricate musical score by repetition and echoes of movements; “Euphemism,” in which Christopher Nachtrab delivers a big production (11 dancers) in four movements to music by Demetri Shostakovich.

Alysia Chang creates a signature move — an arm brought around the body to rest the hand upon the opposite hip — in “Black Tin Box.” Alex Biber moves three couples (Amanda Peet and Rex Wheeler, Alexandra Cunningham and Alex Stewart, and Julia Feldman and Christopher Nachtrab) through phases of emotional attachment, from innocent, almost chaste, to playful, then serious and studied in “Different Relations.”

Rex Wheeler has created two dances on the program and his work is very impressive. In other works, he has shown humor and a modern mind set upon classical ballet. In these, he shows a strong, serious side. In “Cradle,” he bases the dance on a specific movement of cradling the partner from the first pas de deux of “Swan Lake.” Lauryn Winterholder and Stefan Calka dance this very intimate duet. In “7th Symphony,” Wheeler moves 15 dancers through an impressively designed dance.

Less satisfying dances, at least to me, were one called “Someone You’d Admire,” whose movements seemed obvious and whose ending was a bit abrupt, and  “The Orchard,” an adequate but uninspiring solo piece. None of the dances is bad, and all illustrate how the choreographers play on and play up the strengths of their fellow dancers.

“Beer & Ballet” opens at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Sacramento Ballet Studio, 1631 K St. Other performances (those not already sold out) will be at 7 p.m. May 23 and 24 and 2 p.m. May 26 and June 2. Tickets to each performance are $35, available through the Sacramento Ballet Box Office at (916) 552-5800, ext. 2, or through the company’s website, www.sacballet.org.


About the author

Jim Carnes

Jim Carnes

Jim Carnes has masters degrees in English and journalism and is a former National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in popular culture at Stanford University. He has covered Sacramento arts and entertainment for more than 20 years. He currently writes about and reviews theater, dance, music and events in the Sacramento area.

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