You may ask, Whats it all about? but you wont need to wonder what it all means when you see the Sacramento Ballets new production, Wild Sweet Love.
The three-part performance features the world premiere of Acceptance by up-and-coming young Chinese choreographer Ma Cong, Edwaard Liangs Wunderland with music by Philip Glass, and Trey McIntyres contemporary title piece.
The Valentines Day-ready ballets are contemporary works exploring facets of love. Co-artistic director Ron Cunningham says all the audience has to do is bring a personal history, and the dancers will do the rest.
The diversity of programming not only suits the consistent ballet patron, Cunningham said, but he hopes to surprise the occasional consumer who thinks ballet is all Swan Lake and tutus.
I think they will be astonished by what they see on the stage, he said.
The ideas are a little bit more abstract in a contemporary ballet, typically, Cunningham said.
Its not a story like Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet. I would liken it more to poetry than to prose. It has a point of view to it and that point of view can be very specific and personal to the choreography. However, the viewer watching it will interpret it through a filter of their own life experience.
The ballets receive a preview Saturday as excerpts from the works will be performed at Sacramento Ballets studio. The full productions debut with four performances at the Community Center Theater on Feb.13-16.
Two people sitting next to each other might see something completely different in how a ballet moves them, or makes them laugh, or makes them feel what ever they feel, Cunningham said. I think in that way contemporary ballet really reaches out to the individual and touches each person differently.
Cunningham must challenge his dancers while appealing to the audience.
We want our artists to experience the full gamut from the full-length classics, very contemporary ballets, to the great neoclassic Balanchine ballets, and ballets invented for them, he said. By doing that, our dancers are very motivated to be in this company. They want to be here because this is what they live for.
Cunninghams professional company of 26 dancers will need their classical training and athletic physicality for the demanding choreography Cong has been teaching them. He demonstrated a corkscrew leap he wanted the women to execute, which blindly landed them in their male partners arms as they finished the mid-air turn. The dancers then repeated the move themselves to a piece of recorded music.
Almost, Cong said, as he showed how he wanted the women to start and finish the move. The dancers mimed the movements on their own while Cong stood calmly in their midst working through the sequence in his head. Then he started the music again, and the dancers went to work tossing themselves into the air.
Yes, thats it! he said as they precisely executed the turns.
During a rehearsal break the choreographer said the music by Zoë Keating and Kevin Keller inspired the new work, which harkens back to the seven years Cong spent training as a Chinese classical dancer at the Beijing Dance Academy.
It has a very strong beat behind the theme of the music, so ... it inspired me to a lot of shapes, body movements that I learned when I was back in school. Thats coming from that part of my background, Cong said.
The piece is very, very physical and on top of it, it has a lot of emotional moments, and I dont want it to overload it. When I was young I learned Chinese painting, and one of the Chinese painters told me, The art is between yes or no. Its never yes and never no, its in between. I didnt understand what that was when I was little, but now I understand. Its the right balance, the perfect balance.
Cong said its better for people to see the dance because he cant really explain it.
Its hard to say which is actually better for me because then people can understand it by themselves, Cong said.
Call The Bees Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120. Follow him on Twitter @marcuscrowder.