For 30 years, James Sewell Ballet’s critically acclaimed performances have moved and delighted audiences across the country.
To commemorate the company’s milestone anniversary, the ballet will perform early gems alongside recent hits from its beloved repertoire in the Chalberg Theatre on the Brainerd campus of Central Lakes College.
The ballet will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1 as part of the Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center’s Cultural Arts Series.
Exuberant and cutting-edge, James Sewell Ballet productions combine gymnastic elegance with theatricality, exploring polyrhythmic movement and pushing the boundaries of choreography, a news release stated. From childhood violin lessons to becoming a synchronized trampoline world champion at 14, company co-founder James Sewell has always connected to music and movement. Sewell discovered ballet at the Children’s Theatre Co. in Minneapolis in 1976 and moved to New York City two years later to join the American Ballet Theatre II. In 1982, while working with George Balanchine, Sewell had the opportunity to choreograph his first ballet — an experience that inspired him to offer similar opportunities to young choreographers, the release stated.
Shortly after the company relocated from New York City to Minneapolis in 1993, James Sewell Ballet launched Ballet Works, a commissioning program that offers company and outside choreographers the chance to work with professional ballet dancers.
Sewell went on to choreograph Aïda for the Minnesota Opera in 1996, along with the original productions Amahl and the Night Visitors and Moving Works the same year. The company premiered at the Joyce Theater in New York City in 2004, and in 2005 Sewell choreographed “She Loves Me” at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. In 2019, James Sewell Ballet was invited to the Festival De Danse in Cannes, France, to perform the original production Titicut Follies, inspired by Frederick Wiseman’s 1967 documentary of the same name.
Excerpts will showcase the company’s versatility and multiple inspirations, including sections from seminal pieces Moving Works, Chopin Tribute and Made In America. The evening is rounded out by one ballet in its entirety — Opera Moves. It showcases the company’s balletic elegance and robust theatricality to operatic selections, a news release stated. Music is wide-ranging: Bach strings, Chopin keys, Patsy Cline crooning and Dessa beats, to name a few featured artists.
Sewell himself will perform two pieces — Rings and Pagliacci. Rings will astound with its magical cunning and charming dancing, and Pagliacci (part of Opera Moves) is remorseful and profound, the release stated.
The tour, which kicked off Jan. 10 in Fairmont, will visit 12 Minnesota communities, including Brainerd, International Falls, St. Cloud and Winona — before concluding with three performances at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium at St. Catherine University in St. Paul the first week of April. Many tour locations will feature outreach activities, including ballet classes and body/mind wellness workshops. Pre- and post-show, as well as during intermission, the audience will be welcome to peruse a timeline display and other fun materials in the lobby.
Tickets are available from the CLC Box Office at 218-855-8199 or online at clcperformingarts.com.