Contemporary ballet

Missouri Contemporary Ballet comes to life with new pieces and original music

While performing this weekend, dancers from Missouri Contemporary Ballet will emphasize several meanings of the title of their show. They will, of course, be “live”, in person, moving gracefully on stage at the Missouri Theater.

But the company will also model a way of inhabit — embodied, athletic, uniting body and mind to fully come alive and express themselves.

A staple of the MCB schedule, the “Live” show blends newly choreographed works and repertoire with original live music from a rich array of composers, including two of Columbia’s keyboard maestros, Tom Andes and Travis McFarlane.

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This year’s show features three world premiere dance pieces. MCB Artistic and Executive Director Karen Mareck Grundy choreographed “Torque”, which is set to percussion music by an internationally renowned jazz artist Vijay Iyer.

The University of Missouri Percussion Ensemble will provide Iyer’s guiding beats, and MCB dancers will “dance en pointe and incorporate the use of scaffolding as a prop,” according to a press release.

Other premieres include a work by guest choreographer Joshua Blake Carter to Andean music; the piece intends to “feel like a celebration of contemporary ballet,” according to the statement. And the other will feature original choreography and music by the same artist, Kristopher Estes-Brown.

Repertoire tracks include “Hold On”, choreographed by Grundy to music by McFarlane; “Beweist”, set to music by Bach and choreographed by Stéphanie Martinez; and “Vex’d,” coined by longtime dancer and resident choreographer Fernando Rodriguez.

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Describing his piece, Carter expressed the need to create something joyful to counter the sadness and difficulty of the moment.

“I always choreograph about what I know or what is happening in my life, and I confess that the past few years have been filled with loss and darkness,” he said in the statement. “I’m tired of focusing on these things. I want to showcase the incredible talent and artistry of the MCB dancers in a beautiful moving piece of art.”

Somehow, Carter seems to be looking for the same sentiment as the audience. While the movements of the MCB dancers transcend anything a spectator can accomplish, their work reminds us of the potential energy – and beauty – of the bodies we have cloistered and protected over the past two years. The word “live” means just a little more when it’s these artists who take care of it.

“MCB Live” premieres at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Missouri Theater. Tickets range from $28 to $48. Find more details on https://concertseries.missouri.edu/ or https://missouricontemporaryballet.org/.

Aarik Danielsen is the Features and Culture Editor for Tribune. Contact him at [email protected] or by calling 573-815-1731. Find him on Twitter @aarikdanielsen.