Brews, Brats & Ballet | High art and simple pleasures

April 22 | 7:30 p.m.
April 23 | 2 p.m.
Reno Little Theater | Reno, Nev.

April 30 | 4 p.m.
Brewery Arts Center | Carson City, Nev.

Are you intimidated by the sophisticated, sometimes supercilious world of classical art? Are you more at home watching a minor-league baseball game, but you’ve got a hot date you’d like to impress? Or maybe you enjoy being ironic. Either way, you may want to brisé your way over to the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City for a brew, a brat and, you guessed it, ballet.

The annual event hosted by Sierra Nevada Ballet will feature a variety of short, original choreographic works by area artists in an unpretentious and welcoming atmosphere.

“It is based on Sacramento Ballet’s Beer and Ballet, but we have taken it a step further in that we have each choreographer speak about the creative process and accentuate the relaxed, casual atmosphere with brats and brews,” says Ballet founder and artistic director Rosine Bena. “The program is eclectic with pieces for every taste. We have different styles of music and dance — classical, modern, contemporary and Alex Kaskie’s modern hip-hop, which combines modern, ballet and hip-hop.”

“Because there are no words, there are no limitations and no boundaries. There is only the intimate act of interpretation between the audience and the artist from one soul to another.”

–Rosine Bena

The program begins with two new works by San Francisco Bay Area composer Milton Williams, featuring choreography by Bena.

“ ‘Sufferance’ is about a government protest that gets out of hand and becomes a riot,” Bena says. “Seeing something like that in person can be frightening, so I made the violent part happen in slow motion. I think this piece is appropriate for this time in the United States and the piece has a powerful message without being offensive. ‘Bewitchinglude’ is a solo for SNB principal Laura Lunde inspired by a beautiful photo that was taken of her dancing with a piece of fabric.”

Next are two works created by Reno Philharmonic cellist and composer Joseph Tatum and Carson City choreographer Alex Kaskie, followed by a new piece by English-born company member Oliver Adams.

“Alex and Joe are doing a 20-minute collaborative work for ARTOWN’s Down Under program,” says Bena. “ ‘Love’ is just one short composition from that piece. ‘Elements’ is a fabulous athletic piece by Oliver for five dancers. It is very exciting, very aerobically athletic and moves like the wind.”

Reno natives Jen August and Daniel Miller then join forces for two new, short modern works, “November Rain” and the duet “Verses.”

“Jen has done a beautiful abstract modern group work about the feelings that memories evoke, as well as a duet for herself and Daniel about relationships,” says Bena.

The performance is rounded out with an original piece by the founding director of the University of Nevada, Reno dance program and the Ballet’s education outreach director, Barbara Land.

“Barbara has created a beautiful spiritual piece called ‘Kyrie,’ which has no religious significance, but invokes a feeling of universal beauty and spirituality,” says Bena.

Finally, Bena will present a short excerpt of her new version of “Sleeping Beauty,” which will premiere in July. The entire performance is a little more than an hour and includes an intermission. There is a short Q and A after the performance with the choreographers and composers.

Brews, Brats and Ballet provides local composers and choreographers an opportunity to show their new works, one that can often be difficult for them to find.

“SNB started a young choreographer program in the early 2000s to inspire new choreographic works,” says Bena. “Many choreographers are inspired to do new works, but often lack the opportunity to create. They often lack the funding, venues or highly trained dancers to create their work. This program offers choreographers of any age the opportunity to create brand new works and gives the audience the opportunity to share a bit in the creative process by hearing some personal reflections about each work directly from the choreographer.”

Bena believes that in our modern society art forms such as ballet are relevant as never before.

“Ballet is a universal language,” says Bena. “Everyone is able to understand beautiful movement. Because there are no words, there are no limitations and no boundaries. There is only the intimate act of interpretation between the audience and the artist from one soul to another. In today’s extra fast-paced world of high tech, we have a real need to connect spiritually and find ways to enrich our soul. Ballet touches the spirit and the soul in a way that other experiences do not.”

For more information or tickets, visit sierranevadaballet.org.

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Sean McAlindin
Sean McAlindin is a writer, musician and educator based in Truckee. When he's not drafting new story ideas, he can be found jamming with his Celtic bluegrass band, Lost Whiskey Engine, hiking for a local back-country powder stash or hanging out with his daughter, Penelope.