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Premiere of story ballet is Saturday

Posted: Thursday, Mar 21st, 2013

Nashon Marden is a lead role in a new story ballet, “Moonstones: A Tale of Three Suns,” being staged by the Santa Cruz Ballet Theater and Watsonville Taiko. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

APTOS —A contemporary and classical ballet concert featuring the premiere of a collaboration between Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Robert Kelley and Watsonville Taiko Artistic Director Ikuyo Conant will be staged Saturday at Cabrillo College in Aptos.

“Moonstones: A Tale of Three Suns” is a "story ballet" infused with dramatic tension, romance, the liveliness of the sprites and fairies, and the heroism of an archer who saves his village.

Watsonville Taiko will be singing as well as playing drums, gongs and other percussion in concert with the ballet dancers.

Every spring, Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre offers the community a concert that runs the gamut of possible ballet styles, from favorite classical works based on original choreography to ballet with decidedly modern twists, Sara Wilbourne, assistant to the artistic directors, said.

Conant has a wide-ranging interest in combining art forms, such as dancing, chanting, singing, drumming, story telling, Japanese symbolism and mythology. She has brought all of these interests together in “Moonstones.”

A story ballet is a theatrical entertainment in which the dancing and music, often with scenery and costumes, combine to tell a tale.

“Moonstones” is based on Conant's childhood memory of a tale about an archer who shoots down suns from the sky. She and and Kelly decided to further investigate the character, creating an amalgamation of many different folklore characters and a variety of beliefs about the natural world, yet managing to ground it in archetypes that express the commonality of human experience, Wilbourne said.

Conant is a composer and choreographer and has written and arranged Watsonville Taiko’s music and developed the choreography since l992. She received the Calabash Award in 2000 and the following year she was presented with the Gail Rich Award.

Kelly, who began choreographing with SCBT in 1989 and became co-director in 1993, earned the Gail Rich Award in 2009 and the next year he was named Artist of the Year.

There will be two performances Saturday at Cabrillo Crocker Theater at Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Drive, at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Tickets may be purchased online through the Cabrillo box office at www.cabrillovapa.com or by calling 479-6154 today and Friday from noon to 4 p.m.

For information, call Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre at 477-1606.

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