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Ballet Déjà vu, only new

Tacoma City Ballet stages hallowed dances

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When the Tacoma City Ballet brings Hallowed Dances to the stage at the Pantages Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27, they’ll bring classical Ballet and a mash-up of arts, culture and energy that will feel simultaneously hauntingly familiar and bright and fresh.

The music for the program features familiarity. A familiar maestro, Christophe Chagnard, will conduct the Lake Union Civic Orchestra in the evening’s music, of which Bedrich Smetana’s “Moldau” may actually be the most obscure, for the opening piece titled “The Dead Summer’s Soul,” homage to a local felled walnut tree, followed by Camille Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre for the piece “No Bones About it” choreographed by Travis Goldman, which will bring a visual affect akin to a 1930’s cartoon.

Paul Dukas’ “The Sorceror’s Apprentice,” which accompanies feline dancers in a piece called “The Tut Tut Cats” might bring to mind Mickey in a pointy hat, but the dancers will change that vision in a heartbeat. Similarly, “the Ghosts” in flowing skirts, fitted bodices and unbound hair dancing to Beethoven’s flowing “Moonlight Sonata” will captivate the attention away from the familiarity of the music, though the familiarity of the vision behind the dancers might have viewers asking, “Where I have I seen that before?”

The final piece, called “Girls at the Gate,” danced to Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt,” will doubtless leave the audience feeling a sense of déjà vu, and not just because of the familiarity of the music.

The final piece will capture the essence of this year’s ambitious new Tacoma City Ballet, as it seeks to emulate the tradition of the Ballet Russes, a French movement of the early 1900s that brought vitality to the then-stagnant ballet scene with fresh new pieces, stories, and local, living art from such notables as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, George Braque, and even fashion designer Coco Chanel.

The entire flow of the evening of Hallowed Dances will incorporate elements of that tradition, with all the dances except for “No Bones About It” being original classical ballet works choreographed by TCB Artistic Director Erin Ceragioli. The originality of the evening will grow through costuming designed by artist Charlotte Emrys for “The Dead Summer’s Soul,” as well as through the backdrop photography provided by Walter Gaya. But the piece de resistance of the evening, the final one-act piece, “Girls at the Gate,” described by Ceragioli as “a day in Paris, played out in scenarios,” will incorporate an entirely new libretto based on a painting in a series by Executive Director Philip Whitt and his wife, which combines elements as disparate as 1900s photography that might have inspired a 2001 movie, early 1900s photography that includes relatives of the Whitts, and 1920’s imagery that will be celebrated in an upcoming Macy’s parade.

“It’s a whole fun story that Mr. Whitt and I made up together,” explains Ceragioli of the ballet’s libretto. She adds, “I’m trying to bring ballet back to the tradition of working with live local artists and musicians, and creating new work.”

[Pantages Theater, Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m., $15-$30, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, 253.591.589,]

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