The Nutcracker, like so many holiday traditions, is an experience rich with nostalgia. For many, the classical ballet is the only ballet they’ve ever seen; for others, it’s an annual tradition that began in childhood; for others, the music, characters and movement summon memories of the times when they’ve played or danced it themselves.
Farmers Alley Theatre couldn’t possibly have known when they selected their season that December 2017 would offer the perfect cultural moment for a light-hearted jukebox musical in which three iconic female archetypes beaten down by the misbehaving men in their lives risk everything to strike out on their own — only to find beautiful harmonies and support in each other.
Torrey Thomas has been teaching dance — or what he calls “Torreography” — for more than 20 years. He was born and raised in Grand Rapids and loves his roots here in West Michigan. He is known around the community for his eccentric personality, talented dance moves and teaching abilities, working with theater productions and giving lessons. Recently, Thomas received a Grand Award for best choreography for his work on Ragtime at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. We talked with Thomas about where his passion to teach, dance and work comes from.
When they were first released, some holiday classics could hardly be considered successes, said James Sanford, a film critic and former creative manager of Kalamazoo’s Alamo Drafthouse.
A Christmas Carol has taken many forms, but a two-day run with Grand Rapids Ballet will be one of the most unique by far.
Christopher Wheeldon, the British-born Royal Ballet trained dancer and one of the world’s most innovative and celebrated choreographers, created a ballet based on An American in Paris, the iconic multiple Oscar-winning 1951 Vincente Minelli film starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, in 2005 for New York City Ballet, but he had never before directed actors.
Between the two acts of Seeing/Seen, Wellspring/Cory Terry & Dancers’ Fall Concert of Dance, the audience is invited onto the stage to interact and make noise with drumsticks on the Singing Wall Sculptures, an enormous set of suspended gongs and other metalwork created by Lisa Renee Coons and Steven E. Pierce that is prettier to look at than to hear.
Regardless of the form it takes or how much time has passed since a now-famous adolescent girl documented her life in a red checkered notebook while in hiding from the Nazis during World War II in Amsterdam, “The Diary of Anne Frank” remains powerfully moving.
“Passing Strange,” by Stew, is a beautifully raw story of a young African American boy searching for more out of life and the whirlwind of emotions he faces along the way.
In H2 Dance Company’s current modern dance program, “All About a Table,” the same sturdy rectangular table appears in all three pieces composed by Hope College dance department faculty members. The company of 11 select pre-professional student dancers move around, atop, beneath the table, at turns, as desperate housewives, birds, and tragicomic men in control of the world’s fate — all at the Knickerbocker Theatre in Holland.
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