State Street Ballet promises diverse evening at The Granada
Artistic directors Rodney Gustafson and William Soleau aren’t bluffing when they say the State Street Ballet is performing “Fold.”
The contemporary dance is a caricature of a poker game, and it’s part of a diverse program that is headlined by a Shakespearean classic that’s arguably perfect for a ballet: “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”
About 20 dancers will grace the stage when the State Street Ballet performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at The Granada, 1214 State St.
The Santa Barbara show will open with “Tango Rain,” which Mr. Soleau choreographed, and “Fold,” choreographed by Kassandra Taylor Newberry.
“A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” is choreographed by Mr. Gustafson, State Street Ballet’s executive artistic director, to the music of Felix Mendelssohn.
This one-act version of the play takes place on a mysterious Midsummer’s Eve. The King of the Fairies calls on Puck to help him play a trick on his rebellious queen.
The plot involves four young lovers who are running away from their parents, as well as Puck’s trick in making two boys fall in love with the same girl. That sets the stage for a funny story of mischief, magic and romance, including the queen’s crush on a half-man/half donkey.
“I love Shakespeare,” Mr. Soleau told the News-Press as Mr. Gustafson listened. “This is 45 minutes, the first act of the Shakespeare play. It’s in the forest.
“It’s such a wonderful vehicle for dance because it can be classical, but it can also be extremely funny,” Mr. Soleau said. “It’s very light hearted.”
He explained Saturday’s dance program will be a metaphorical full meal for the audience, with dances varying from modern to a classical pas de deux.
“Then you get in ‘Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, with everything rolled into one, with the acting and dancing.”
“I think it’s one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays,” Mr. Soleau said. “It’s a tale of what it is to be human.”
The ballet features six main characters.
“The storyline is so great for dance,” Mr. Soleau said. “What’s so nice is that it’s accessible to everyone. For people who don’t normally go to see ballet, ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream’ is a perfect introduction.”
Mr. Gustafson praised the young man portraying Puck. “This artist takes the role and expands it and personalizes it. You feel he is absolutely Puck. He’s just perfect for the part.”
Mr. Gustafson said the sets, costumes, characters and story will transport the audience to another world, “a place of joy.”
Added Mr. Soleau, “We’re still coming out of the pandemic, two years when everything stopped. We didn’t go to the theaters. We’re picking up from the other side now.
“That’s the wonderful thing,” he said. “The arts exemplify the rebirth.”
The creativity at Saturday’s show will be evident in “Fold,” which Ms. Newberry choreographed to the toe-tapping rhythms of Hans Zimmer. As previously mentioned, this dance is a caricature of a poker game.
“It revolves around this magical table,” Mr. Soleau explained. “The music is very pulsing and pounding. It’s like non-stop energetic movement.
“It’s very creative and clever what they do with this table,” he said.
“A poke game is like a dialogue,” Mr. Soleau said. “You’re sitting across from somebody. Is he lying to people? Is he showing me a tell?
“It’s a lot of fun,” Mr. Soleau said.
He also discussed the ballet he choreographed, “Tango Rain.” The music is by Argentinian music of Astor Piazzolla.
“Ballroom dancing has always interested me,” Mr. Soleau said.
Between “Tango Rain” and “Fold,” State Street Ballet will present a classical, acrobatic pas de deux, “Spring Waters,” Mr. Gustafson said.
“The two dancers are brilliant. They’re technically superior to a lot of dancers in the country,” Mr. Soleau said. “They’re a wonderful couple.
“It shows the level of artistry that the State Street Ballet can go from the very contemporary ‘Fold’ to something so classical. It shows the versatility of the company.”