Saturday, November 11, 2017

"Turnout" debut offers informal ballet performances

Posted By on Sat, Nov 11, 2017 at 12:56 PM

Ballet Memphis' Fly Studio is an industrial strength practice room that can double as a performance space. The company's "Turnout" series is premiering there this weekend. - LOUIS TUCKER/BALLET MEMPHIS
  • Louis Tucker/Ballet Memphis
  • Ballet Memphis' Fly Studio is an industrial strength practice room that can double as a performance space. The company's "Turnout" series is premiering there this weekend.

Ballet Memphis, having recently moved to a shiny new headquarters, is taking advantage of it by adding some intriguing programming.

Friday night was the debut of “Turnout,” which the company bills as informal although that only applies to the setting and ambience. The dancing, though, is as complex and challenging as it is fresh.

The program is just under an hour and the four works in this weekend’s lineup include the popular “In Dreams” by Trey McIntire, set to the music of Roy Orbison. Five of the company’s most vivid dancers — Crystal Brothers, Julie Marie Niekrasz, Jared Brunson, Virginia Pilgrim Ramey, and Brandon Ramey — do sublime work on this gorgeous piece.

Brandon Ramey’s new piece “The Good Life” opened the show, a terrific satirical series of suit-and-tie workplace woes. And a couple of romantic works rounded out the program: “Cupid Revealed” by former company member Joseph Jefferies and “The Lovely Story of Us” by company associate artistic director Steven McMahon.

The idea of the “Turnout” series is to present contemporary works, often by company members, on an occasional basis. It gives Ballet Memphis a chance to show off its new home, particularly the Fly Studio, and is purposely kept short so balletgoers can take in some nightlife afterward. It also allows more homegrown choreography to encourage local talent.

If the first production of the series is an indicator, it may well become an event not to miss.

There’s another performance tonight at 7:30. Tickets are $12 general admission; or $20, which entitles you to a reusable lidded theater cup. Libation included. Info:

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Prime Cuts: A Pulitzer finalist, and an Orwell fable

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 9:52 AM

Looking for something interesting this weekend? Whoever you are, the Memphis theater community's probably got something for you. 

Cloud9's a relatively new company still getting its legs. That sets up Jordan Harrison's Marjorie Prime — a significant regional premiere — as a probable coming of age story. This Pulitzer finalist is near-future science fiction about a time when artificial intelligences can be programmed to serve as companions for the elderly, even taking on the look and characteristics of lost loved ones. It would easily be the most smartly-written thing on stage this week if Voices of the South hadn't staged a narrative adaptation of George Orwell's Animal Farm, or if Theatre Memphis' wonderful production of Falsettos had been produced at some other time. As it happens, there's a lot of smart work to choose from. Choose well!

And there's always the ballet.

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