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Ballet dancers return to Crest Theatre for performance combining painting, music, dance

Ballet dances become business people with Capital Dance Project

Local dancers take advantage of the break in the Sacramento Ballet season to produce their own dance, art and music collaborations with local artists. The Capital Dance Project presents Behind the Barre Aug. 26 and 27. More info at capitaldancepro
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Local dancers take advantage of the break in the Sacramento Ballet season to produce their own dance, art and music collaborations with local artists. The Capital Dance Project presents Behind the Barre Aug. 26 and 27. More info at capitaldancepro

The Capital Dance Project is back for a second summer. And this year, its performances will combine painting and homegrown music with pirouettes and pliés.

CDP is the company of Sacramento ballet dancers that formed out of necessity last summer when the ballet abruptly ended its season early. The dancers pulled together a summer show at the Crest Theatre in 21 days and nearly packed the joint.

This summer, they’ve had a lot more time to design two performances at the Crest. And what they’ve come up with sounds remarkable.

Their performances – “Behind the Barre: Made in Sacramento” – will showcase the dancers in nine acts performed to music composed by local musicians and accompanied by visual art produced by local artists.

The dancers are choreographing the work, rehearsing daily at CLARA Midtown, the new performance space on N Street. They’ve also designed the costumes and are handling the logistics, including marketing and sponsorships.

“I’m so in awe of all of them,” said Alexandra Cunningham, a ballet dancer and an event organizer. “It feels like a bit of an artistic renaissance in our city, and we’re trying to connect with our local artists in a deeper way.”

Capital Dance Project is only in its second year but seems to have staying power. It’s giving local dancers a chance to keep sharp for the grueling Sacramento Ballet season that starts in October. It also has given the ballet a chance to widen its reach with new audiences.

In addition to the performances, the company is planning to mentor at-risk youths. Using a $15,000 grant it received from Sacramento Republic FC, CDP will give out 100 tickets for each performance to young people and open rehearsals to disadvantaged youths.

“Behind the Barre” will culminate a big week in the local art scene.

The dance project’s first performance is Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at K Street’s Crest Theatre. A second performance will take place the following night at the same time. That’s also the week the Sacramento Mural Festival takes over the alleys of midtown with a dozen local and international artists.

Last year’s “Behind the Barre” was amazing. The lineup this year is even bigger.

EDM artist Elijah Jenkins, also known as Waste Money, will perform live with a dance choreographed by the ballet’s Alex Biber. Shaun Burner, one of the driving forces behind Art Hotel, will have his live drawing projected onto stage as the dancers follow his path.

Artist Waylon Horner designed costumes for one dance, while the others were designed and made by dancer Kaori Higashiyama. The Sacramento Taiko Dan drummers will perform. Artists Franceska Gamez, Kevin Zee and Trent Dean have designed set backdrops, lighting and other visuals.

Raphael Delgado, one of the city’s hottest artists, is putting together a piece to coordinate with a performance choreographed by dancer Rex Wheeler. Delgado said the connection of dance and painting is natural, noting Pablo Picasso designed the costumes and sets for several performances by the influential Ballets Russes nearly 100 years ago.

“We speak a language only a few people speak,” he said. “And we’re slaves for our art.”

Tickets for the shows can be purchased at www.capitaldanceproject.org.

​Sacramento Ballet artistic director Ron Cunningham gives a tour of the dance company's new home: The E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts - the former Fremont School for Adults--was renamed Clara Midtown on April 6.

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