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Ballet with sizzle

The Media City Ballet ignites passion on the Alex Theatre stage with night of Spanish flavor.

August 15, 2007|By Erica Liu

Dancers from the Media City Ballet Company and guest artists will take the stage Saturday at the Alex Theatre for a night of ballet with a Spanish twist, complete with bold costumes, scorching choreography and dramatic music.

The program for the “Noche de Sabor” (“Night of Flavor”) performance will include a smorgasbord of ballet, flamenco, salsa and tango sets arranged to music from the likes of Astor Piazzolla, the master of tango, to ballet composer Ludwig Minkus.

Natasha Middleton, the artistic director and founder of the company, decided a Spanish theme would make sense for a performance in August because of its associations with heat and passion.

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“I just like the passion that’s always been involved in Spanish dancing,” the Burbank resident said. “It’s really based on my years of traveling through Spain during this time of the year and watching all of the flamenco dancers. It just brought that all back to me. Now we’re recreating that and bringing it to the Alex.”

The first act will consist of a more contemporary and eclectic range of Spanish dances, Middleton said.

Among the many guest artists joining the company in the first half will be renowned tango dancers Sergei Tumas and Liz Lira.

Tumas choreographed and wrote the libretto for Piazzolla’s “Fuga y mysterio” and “Sur: Regreso al amor,” which he also will be performing with Lira and Ida Kesh.

“Sur” tells the heated and dramatic story of lovers united and then cast aside, Tumas said.

A man and a woman fall in love, but the two quarrel and the woman leaves. Upon her departure, another woman manages to ensnarl the attentions of the man, but it is not true love.

“He falls in love with another woman, but doesn’t have as strong a connection with the second one,” Tumas said. “She just gives him comfort and harmony and you can see [the difference] in the choreography.”

But when the estranged woman comes back to find that she has been replaced, all bets are off.

“It is more of a tragic story,” Tumas said. “Nobody wants to compromise for anybody and everyone goes their own way.”

The other two Piazzolla tangos are choreographed by Ellen Rosa.

They are contemporary ballet works inspired by tango movement, the Los Angeles resident said.

In one number, the dancers will use chairs to represent tango partners and do tango-inspired moves with the chair as a prop.

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