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A Celebration of Dance, Dancers and Dance-Makers

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A viewing of this mural celebrating the legacy of Ron and Carinne Cunningham will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Summer is generally the “off-season” for dance companies — and it’s true here in Sacramento, too. Except for the Capital Dance Project, which this year celebrates its fifth anniversary of experimental collaborations among dancers, choreographers, musicians, visual artists and whatever other creative types the CDP happens upon.

CDP began five years back when the Sacramento Ballet hit a rough patch financially (things have steadily improved since) and cut its season (and salaries) short. A group of the ballet dancers founded the CDP as an opportunity for the dancers to keep working, earn a bit of money — but just as importantly, to explore artistic visions and collaborations that were not open to them within the Sacramento Ballet structure.

This year’s program — Behind the Barre: Made in Sacramento — features works by 10 choreographers who have collaborated with visual artists and musicians to create world premiere contemporary ballet works. The program will be presented the evenings of August 16 and 17 at the Crest Theatre.

The choreographers are: Alexander Biber, Anthony Canarella, Stefan Calka, Julia Feldman, Kaori Higashiyama, Dylan Keane, Christopher Nachtrab, Shania Rasmussen, Richard Smith and Rex Wheeler. Many — if not all — of these dance makers got their first opportunity to choreograph at the Sacramento Ballet under co-artistic directors Ron and Carinne Cunningham.

Among Ballet company members who choreographed while dancing under the Cunninghams is Amy Seiwet, the artistic director named to succeed the Cunninghams. 

Ron and Carinne Binda Cunningham headed the Sacramento Ballet for 30 years, creating excellent dances, winning the approval of the George Ballanchine Trust to perform a great many of his masterpieces, and encouraging young dancers and choreographers.

To honor the couple’s contributions to dance and to the community, Sacramento artist Stephanie Taylor has created a mural on the P Street side of the Capital Athletic Club (1515 8th St.). A viewing of the mural and celebration of the Cunninghams’ legacy will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 15, with several dance exhibitions, free libations and snacks provided by Capital Athletic Club.

For more information, visit CapitalDanceProject.org.

Art by Stephanie Taylor

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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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