The Yuba College Cultural Events Series presented the Sacramento Ballet on February 16 and 17. The evening featured a collection of routines ranging from classical to modern.
The audience was treated to a taste of classical ballet with “Apollo,” “Fantasies” and “Pas de Deux from Swan Lake.” Two contemporary and unusual pieces entitled “Passive Aggression” and “The Envelope” offered an alternative to the traditional ballet many have come to know.
Ballerina Whitney Simler demonstrated unbelievable talent and versatility in her performances. Performing in three of the five pieces, Simler exhibited grace and beauty as the White Swan in “Pas de Deux from Swan Lake,” and flexibility in the modern “Passive Aggression.” Simlers’ skill as a dancer and actress was evident in her ability to perform such differing roles.
Spectacular lifts made the third piece, “Fantasies,” a pleasure to watch. The male dancers lifted their partners with strength and ease, as if the ballerinas weighed nothing. The performance lasted twenty minutes, and from beginning to end, the dancers made the moves appear effortless.
The evening concluded with “The Envelope.” Donned in black, complete with hoods and sunglasses, the dancers had the audience laughing with comical moves and jocular antics centered around a white envelope. According to Jay Drury, Associate Dean of Language Arts and Fine Arts, the performances by the Sacramento Ballet were a huge success, and a second night was added at the last moment.
“This is the first time we had to book a second night,” said Drury.
200 were in attendance for Friday’s performance and over 300 for Saturday’s.
“We were happy with the mixed bag of traditional and classical as well as modern,” said Drury. “It was better for us. It was also good for them (the ballet company) because they could show off their range,” Drury continued. “It may push the audience to drive to performances in Sacramento.
The Sacramento Ballet was founded 43 years ago, and became a professional company in 1986. The dance company has created an educational/outreach program called “Dancepower” in an attempt to make the arts accessible to all people in the Sacramento area.
This year “Dancepower” will provide in-class demonstrations, educational materials, visits to ballet rehearsals and special performances at the Community Center Theatre to children from 65 schools in seven counties.
The Sacramento Ballet performs under the artistic direction of Ron Cunningham. Cunningham is a former dancer, choreographer and ballet master of the Boston Ballet. Cunningham’s “Cinderella” was the first American Ballet to be seen in the People’s Republic of China. His wife, Carinne Binda, is co-artistic director. Binda is a former soloist from the Boston Ballet, and has performed major roles in over 100 ballets.
Drury is already looking ahead, booking exciting events for next season and beyond.
“The Cultural Event Series is a world series,” said Drury. “It is a way to give a window into another culture, time or person. Audiences see other cultures through the arts,” concluded Drury. “It is a tolerance builder.”