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James Sewell Ballet celebrates eight years at WMPAC

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WARREN MILLER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

BIG SKY – There are a few staples of spring in Big Sky: longer, sunnier days, slushy spring skiing and a performance by the James Sewell Ballet at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center. The dance group has been performing annually in Big Sky for eight years now, and has adapted to the new landscape of the performing arts during a pandemic with the grace that defines their name.

James Sewell Ballet represents the performing arts center’s longest running artistic relationship, and as such has easily earned the title of “Big Sky’s favorite dance company.” The group takes a novel approach to dance, in that the performers are classically trained but draw inspiration from contemporary genres and movement styles. Previous shows in Big Sky have included props like aerial silks and dancers in ski boots, or incorporated a flash mob of locals swarming the stage to join the performance.

When the group performed on the WMPAC stage last year, the pandemic was still on the distant horizon. This year presents a new challenge, in that ballet is a physical art that usually relies on touch and partnership. James Sewell has worked with each of his dancers to choreograph solo pieces for this performance, which audiences can watch either in person on the WMPAC stage or virtually from home.

“The pandemic has changed a lot about the performing arts world, but it’s a testament to the James Sewell Ballet that the group has figured out a way to continue producing and sharing their art,” said John Zirkle, WMPAC’s executive director. “They haven’t given up on that mission, and neither have we. In many ways, this is the most important performance of their eight year history with us, because it represents how we’ve both held on through all the chaos and upheaval.”

Up to 50 patrons are able to attend the live performances at WMPAC, which will take place at 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on both Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20. Audience members will wear masks for the duration of the show, and groups will be seated with social distancing measures in place. For those who feel more comfortable taking in the show from home, the 5:30pm performance on March 20 can be streamed live at wmpac.live, the Center’s new virtual streaming platform.

Tickets and more information are available at warrenmillerpac.org.

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