Bluegrass and ballet

March 23, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Ballet and live bluegrass music.

Frenchman and ballet choreographer Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux was, until recently, unfamiliar with bluegrass music.

Then he heard a recording by North Carolina bluegrass band Greasy Beans and loved the energetic beat. He called to inquire about the band performing for a ballet. They thought he had the wrong number.

"It's fun to innovate," says Bonnefoux, artistic director for North Carolina Dance Theatre.

Many people acquaint ballet with boring, but good choreography can be exciting, Bonnefoux says.

The dance theater's mix of ballet and live bluegrass music, "Under Southern Skies," will have a tour stop at Shepherd University's Frank Center Theater on Saturday.

Rachael Meads, director of The Performing Arts Series at Shepherd, hopes the genre-crossing ballet will draw people that have never gone to the ballet.


The evening consists of four ballet performances, including two choreographed by Bonnefoux that will be done to live music.

Country singer Christine Kane will sing "I'm With You" as a couple dances.

Greasy Beans will perform several pieces for the dance, "Shindig," that melds traditional ballet with steps inspired by clogging, Bonnefoux says.

The other two dances, "Sweet Tea" and "City South," will be performed to recorded music.

"Sweet Tea," accompanied by the music of the late jazz legend John Coltrane, is infused with modern dance, Bonnefoux says. "City South," performed to jazzy bluegrass by Bla Fleck and the Flecktones, was influenced by hip-hop moves.

If you go...

WHAT: "Under Southern Skies," an evening-length ballet by North Carolina Dance Theatre, presented by The Performing Arts Series at Shepherd University. Includes live music.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 25

WHERE: Frank Center Theater, Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, W.Va.

COST: $15; $10 for senior citizens, Shepherd faculty and staff, and Jefferson County School Board employees; $5 for ages 17 and younger; and free for Shepherd students. Tickets can be purchased at the information desk in the Student Center or by calling Rachael Meads at 1-304-876-5113.

DIRECTIONS: From Hagerstown, take Md. 65 south to Sharpsburg. Turn right onto Md. 34 and cross the Potomac River. Go to four-way stop and turn right on West German Street. Go about one-eighth of a mile and turn right on West Campus Drive. Free parking.

MORE: North Carolina bluegrass band Greasy Beans will perform during intermission as well as during part of the ballet.

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