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Let’s dance

On pointe with Missouri Contemporary Ballet

November 12, 2009 | 12:00 a.m. CST


Toss out any preconceived notions of tutus and pink tights before going to see Falling by Missouri Contemporary Ballet. These well-versed dancers explode with talent outside the classical ballet norms. The upcoming show isn’t about the season of fall, falling down or falling in love, but rather it’s a literal and figurative expression of the word.
Spunky director and contributing choreographer Karen Grundy weaves together performances in which her dancers convey phrases such as falling in place, falling apart or falling on your own sword to build the show around a central theme.
“The word doesn’t just mean one thing because there are so many different types of falling,” she says.
The individual dances that make up the show include both physical and metaphorical elements of falling using original choreography and story lines. To supplement the mood and meaning, poetry is projected onto the backdrop onstage.
“I think that all of the themes go really well with the overall title,” says Chris Benjamin, a dancer in the show. “It should be obvious to the audience how it all connects.”
Don’t expect picturesque ballerinas twirling traditional pirouettes or standard jetés; MCB performances more closely resemble those seen on the popular Fox show, So You Think You Can Dance. The troupe consists of seven close-knit dancers, two male and five female.
You might have seen MCB’s unique style and versatility in Rock, a performance in February 2008 that spotlighted the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. The encore production boasted costumes, music and dance moves authentic to the era.
MCB has been through some big shifts in recent years, but now Grundy feels as if things have fallen into place for the company. A little more than a year ago, the dancers would have described themselves as gypsies, floating around without a consistent practice space.
The company finally found a home at 110 Orr St. in September 2008. Nooked in the downtown hub of the arts, they share a renovated warehouse with Sven’s Kafé and Gallery, The Beach Salon and other businesses.
Claire Magee, a returning member of MCB’s troupe, says the new permanent space has helped to spread awareness of the company. “A lot of people will come by and watch while eating or grabbing coffee,” she says. “It has really expanded knowledge of the arts and what we do.”
Whether dance is a hobby, something you admire or something you’ve grown akin to watching done horribly by TV “celebrities,” Falling should be a treat in this under-represented area of Columbia’s art scene. A live performance of classical dance turned contemporary might leave you falling for a new fine art.

Falling
WHERE: Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts
WHEN: Fri. and Sat., Nov. 13 and 14, 7 p.m.
COST: $22, $17 with student ID
CALL: 875-0600

Click here for more ticket information

Ballet is not dead

Although ballet might be more than 400 years old, the French dance style remains popular around the world. These fun facts put a modern twist on the classic art form.

Renowned ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov has performed in more than 100 works during his 50-year career, but dance dunces might recognize him more for his role as Carrie Bradshaw’s cultured Russian lover, Aleksandr Petrovsky, on Sex and the City.

Current St. Louis Cardinals manager, and former Oakland A’s manager from 1986 to 1995, Tony La Russa recruited athletes to perform as toy soldiers alongside legit ballerinas in the 22-year-old All-Star tradition of Oakland Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker. Which players have gotten their plié on? Roger Craig of the 49ers, Dave Stewart of the A’s and Shawn Estes of the Giants.

In the summer of 2009, Fox’s hit show So You Think You Can Dance took Melissa Sandvig — the series’ first classically trained ballerina — as one of its top 20 dancers.


--Jessica Davis

Missouri Contemporary Ballet's newest production might be called Falling, but don't think they shy away ...

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