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0000017c-60f7-de77-ad7e-f3f739cf0000Arts & More airs Fridays at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.Theme music: "Like A Beginner Again" by Dan Barry of Seas of Jupiter

Go Around The World With Ballet Arts Ensemble

At rehearsal for Ballet Arts Ensemble's spring concert
Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

On March 28th, Ballet Arts Ensemble will do a very special performance of Paquita—a popular ballet about a poor young Spanish woman who saves a French officer’s life and discovers her noble roots.

Director Cathy Huling says with the help of guest artists DawnellDryja and Stephen Sanford from the Grand Rapids Ballet, the company is finally performing Paquita the way it’s supposed to be performed—with beautiful, complex solos. 

“It’s such a great opportunity for our girls to be able to actually not just perform with professionals in the same production, but to be in this difficult ballet with them,” says Huling.

“And particularly the choreography for the core—which would be our girls, our 12 girls—is very challenging. And that kind of got the ball rolling with the world travelogue kind of idea.”

Now the concert will not only include a well-rounded Paquita, but also classical dances inspired by countries all over the world. There will be two performances on Saturday, March 28th at Chenery Auditorium, one at 2 p.m. and another at 7 p.m.

“Part of classical ballet is classical character dance, which is different from folk dancing, all right. So Paquita is ballet—it’s classical ballet—but it has within its structure very Spanish moves of the arms, of the head, the port de bras—you know different positions of the body is very Spanish," Huling explains.

"And we learn this in classical character dancing, ok, but it’s different from folk. It’s not like the flamenco and the farruco and some of the dances that are indigenous to that country.”

That doesn’t mean the program is without its surprises. Sisters Madhavi and Meghana Venugopal will be performing a classical Bollywood dance.

“It’s from a movie called Devdas which is really traditional and it’s based in the early 1900s. So there are just a lot of like arm movements, we lip-sync to the song, and it’s just very bright and cheerful,” says Meghana Venugopal.

Kalamazoo Irish band The Bog Road
Credit Rebecca Thiele, WMUK
Kalamazoo Irish band The Bog Road

There will also be a performance by Kalamazoo Irish band The Bog Road. Ed Amat is one of the members of the band. He also serves on the board of Ballet Arts Ensemble and his daughter dances with the group.

"It’s maybe the first time ever that a ballet company is playing live with a Irish band, but we intend on doing it right,” says Amat.

The rest of the program consists of a spoof on the famous Nutcracker snow scene, Polish and Russian inspired dances as well as the French can-can.

Rebecca Thiele was an environmental reporter and producer of Arts & More for WMUK. She worked at the station from 2011 to 2019.
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