By Jenny Poplar
Ever wish you could liberate Ballet West’s ballerinas from their classical tutus and pointe shoes? Do you catch yourself wondering, “What can these elegant dancers do in addition to a bunch of delicate turns and leaps?”If you answered “yes,” NINE SINATRA SONGS is the program for you. Choreographed by legendary dance powerhouse Twyla Tharp (135 dances to her credit and counting), it’s a ballroom romp that features a giant disco ball, colorful costumes by Oscar de la Renta (including stylish high heels that will surely make shoe junkies drool) and, of course, music by the most famous member of the Rat Pack.Three other short works—Bruce Marks’s pleasant “Continuo,” George Balanchine’s arresting “Serenade,” and Val Caniparoli’s “Hamlet and Ophelia” pas de deux—preceded “Nine Sinatra Songs.” Artistic director Adam Sklute has invited a handful of dance luminaries with specialized knowledge and experience—including seasoned ballerinas Victoria Simon and Joanna Berman, who worked closely with the original creators to stage each respective piece. Simon’s staging of Balanchine’s “Serenade” is especially impressive. The nuance, subtlety and grace showcased in this stark piece will stay with you for weeks after you’ve seen it.The end result of Sklute and company’s commitment to excellence is truly breathtaking: Every work brims with passion and vitality. I guarantee you will leave Capitol Theatre energized and renewed after attending this production, because the creative energy radiating from the stage will get under your skin in the best possible way. Nine Sinatra Songs @ Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 355-2787, April 18-26. BalletWest.org
By Brian Staker
Next year will mark two decades living in America for Prague native LENKA KONOPASEK, and her impact on the local art scene stretches back almost as far. Almost immediately, she was recognized as a painter with a keen sense of color and remarkably individualistic brushstroke. Witnessing events in Czechoslovakia before departing in the late 1980s, she has infused her work with a deep relationship to political events, including systems of reference like sections of maps in order to confront viewers with harsh political realities.Her new work has taken a different direction, however, dropping the stylized symbolic elements for more directly representational work. This new series is based on computer-manipulated photographs depicting natural disasters (like Hurricane Katrina) and images from recent human conflicts (like the war in Iraq). Blowing dust and convulsing water render objects indistinct, blurring into each other; pastel colors belie the sinister nature of these events. But even the sickly green flood waters of New Orleans somehow attain a serene beauty.The “Landslide” series depicts the elemental movements of the earth with more contrasting hues; its boats clustered together suggest a more direct evidence of the violence of natural forces. Konopasek traveled back to see the flooding in central Europe prior to New Orleans, and she says both events taught her to pay more attention to natural disasters. “Why am I drawn to them?” she asks rhetorically. “They are fascinating, like the special effects in movies—except they are real.”Lenka Konopasek: Paintings @ Finch Lane Gallery, 1325 E. 200 South, 596-5000, through May 30.
By Scott Renshaw
You remember bedtime encounters with Curious George, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Horton the Elephant; you immersed yourself in fate of Charlotte the spider. It’s the literature that creates lovers of reading, that we remember for the rest of our lives—and that’s why ANITA SILVEY has made it her life’s work.From her decade as editor in chief of the kid-lit publication The Horn Book Magazine to a stint as children’s books chief for publisher Houghton Mifflin, Silvey has consumed literally thousands of works for children and young adults, and she knows the good stuff when she sees it. Her encyclopedic knowledge of the subject turned into a literal encyclopedia of Children’s Books and Their Creators in 1995, followed by The Essential Guide to Children’s Books and Their Creators in 2002. But her 2004 work 100 Best Books for Children serves as the definitive checklist-cum-research guide. Her support for John Reynolds Gardiner’s The Stone Fox includes the detail that its rebellious author-to-be refused to read his first novel until he was 19; an architect named Norton Juster procrastinated from a work assignment by writing the fanciful tales that would become The Phantom Tollbooth.Silvey brings stories gathered over a lifetime as an advocate for giving children what she calls “their literary heritage.” Bring your children, or just bring the child in you who has never forgotten falling in love with books for the first time.Anita Silvey @ Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, 524-8200, Tuesday, April 29, 7 p.m.
Here & Now: Other New Happenings This Week
MU Performance artist Arwen Ek combines movement, music, theater, visual art and theoretical physics. Studio 115, U of U Performing Arts Building, 240 S. 1500 East, 581-7100, April 24-26, 7:30 p.m.
JEFF McCARTHY The author and Westminster College faculty member discusses his new book, Contact: Mountain Climbing and Environmental Thinking. Ken Sanders Rare Books, 268 S. 200 East, 521-3819, Thursday, April 24, 7 p.m.
REWIND Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company presents works by Charlotte Boye-Christensen, Doug Varone and Della Davidson. Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 355-2787, April 24-26, 7:30 p.m. RirieWoodbury.com
THE PRODUCERS Mel Brooks’ Tony Award-winning musical about Broadway con men in a complete Broderick- and Lane-free incarnation. Pioneer Theatre Company, 300 S. 1400 East, 581-6961, April 25-May 10, PioneerTheatre.org
CARMINA BURANA Keith Lockhart leads the Utah Symphony and Chorus in Carl Orff’s 20th-century classic. Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, 355-2787, April 25-26, 8 p.m. UtahSymphony.org
SORDID LIVES Pygmalion Productions presents the comic tale of a rural family gathering for a funeral. Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 355-2787, April 25-May 10, PygmalionProductions.org
NIHON MATSURI Fourth annual Japanese-American cultural street festival, featuring music, art, performance and more. 100 South between 200 and 300 West, Saturday, April 26, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. NihonMatsuri.org
INTO THE WEST FANTASY FESTIVAL Speakers, costumes, vendors and activities celebrating Lord of the Rings and other worlds of wonder. U of U Olpin Union, 200 Central Campus Dr., Saturday, April 26, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. IntoTheWest.org
MOJÁCAR FLAMENCO Los Angeles-based flamenco ensemble combines traditional works with Latin Jazz. Salt Lake City Recital Hall, 320 E. 200 South, 746-7252, Saturday, April 26, 9 p.m. MojacarFlamenco.com
SALTGRASS PRINTMAKERS Exhibition of screen prints by Stefanie Dykes, Trent Call, Sri Whipple and more. Saltgrass Printmakers, 2126 S. 1000 East, 467-1808, April 26- May 31, reception April 26, 6-9 p.m. SaltgrassPrintmakers.org