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It’s Slipper Time for Ballerinas and Genies

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Isabella Velasquez and Stefan Calka of the Sacramento Ballet dance "The Bridge,"

The Sacramento Ballet will end its first season under new artistic director Amy Seiwert with a series of performances this weekend at The Sofia arts complex. The program will include a world premier dance created by Seiwert and accompanied by live music composed and performed by violist Christen Lien.

Lien recently previewed the music for the dancers and an invited audience at the CLARA center that houses the ballet company. She said she wanted to explain the inspiration for the soundtrack that had inspired Seiwert’s choreography.

Lien created a concept album exploring the Greek myth of Elpis, the personification of Hope. While we may think of Hope as a virtue, according to the Greek myth, Hope is one of the evils created by Zeus to punish humanity. It was one of the evils placed in Pandora’s box, awaiting release into the world. When Pandora opened the box and the various evils began to escape, Pandora realized she had made a mistake and slammed the box shut, just as Hope was trying to escape.

Lien and Seiwert both were drawn to the idea that Hope combines both light and dark elements — knowledge of the existence and power of evil yet the belief that good may come of it. This “look on the bright side” attitude can be humanity’s big letdown when things don’t work out.

Seiwert’s choreography explores this inherent struggle between light and dark, good and bad.

Also on the program are two other dances that test the limits of classical ballet and modern expression. “Written and Forgotten” by Annabelle Lopez looks at childhood memories and their reliability — or lack of it — in relation to the truth. “The Bridge” was choreographed by Val Caniparoli to a string quartet Dmitri Shostakovich. Caniparoli recently served as mentor to the ballet’s dancers creating works for their Beer and Ballet program.

The Ballet’s “Fast Forward” program will be presented at the Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts, 2700 Capitol Ave. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s 2 p.m. show is sold out. Tickets are $65, except for Thursday’s show when audience members 40 and younger will be admitted for $40.

For tickets and more information, call (916) 443-5300, or go to SacBallet.org.

Take a Magic Carpet Ride

Few shows arrive with the pedigree of Disney’s “Aladdin,” which is at the Community Center Theater through June 2. That’s a nice long run for a show that often has audiences returning for more of the glamour, excitement and adventure that’s packed into the musical. Newsday calls it an “awesome throwback to old-time musical comedy.”

Based on the hit 1992 animated film and “One Thousand and One Nights” stories, “Aladdin” boasts music by Alan Menken (“Beauty and the Beast”, lyrics by Howard Ashman (“Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid”), Tim Rice (“Evita”) and Chad Beguelin (“The Wedding Singer”). All are Tony or Oscar — or both — winners. Beguelin also wrote the book. The play is directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, a Tony winner for “The Book of Mormon.”

“Aladdin” is set in a fictional Middle Eastern city, where, as they say, “one lamp and three wishes can lead to a whole new world” — not to mention gold and glitz and plenty of singing and dancing.

The plot, not that it matters much, is about princess Jasmine’s infatuation with the commoner Aladdin although her father, the Sultan, is looking for a regal suitor for her. Somehow the inhabitant of that trusty old lamp helps the lovers come together. That’s all it takes for bad guys and flying rugs to spring into action — and for audiences to be wowed.

“Aladdin” plays at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 2 and 8 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. There will be one performance at 7:30 p.m. this Sunday (May 19). Shows are at the Community Center Theater, 1301 L St. Tickets start at $40 and go to around $300. Tickets for some shows are limited.

For tickets or for more information, call (916) 557-1999 or go to BroadwaySacramento.com.

Photo by Marissa Gearhart.

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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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