In Dreams, by Trey McIntyre

'Turnout' debut offers informal ballet performances

By Jon W. Sparks, Memphis Flyer

Ballet Memphis, having recently moved to a shiny new headquarters, is taking advantage of it by adding some intriguing programming. 

Friday night was the debut of “Turnout,” which the company bills as informal although that only applies to the setting and ambience. The dancing, though, is as complex and challenging as it is fresh. 

The program is just under an hour and the four works in this weekend’s lineup include the popular “In Dreams” by Trey McIntire, set to the music of Roy Orbison. Five of the company’s most vivid dancers — Crystal Brothers, Julie Marie Niekrasz, Jared Brunson, Virginia Pilgrim Ramey, and Brandon Ramey — do sublime work on this gorgeous piece. 

Brandon Ramey’s new piece “The Good Life” opened the show, a terrific satirical series of suit-and-tie workplace woes. And a couple of romantic works rounded out the program: “Cupid Revealed” by former company member Joseph Jefferies and “The Lovely Story of Us” by company associate artistic director Steven McMahon.

The idea of the “Turnout” series is to present contemporary works, often by company members, on an occasional basis. It gives Ballet Memphis a chance to show off its new home, particularly the Fly Studio, and is purposely kept short so balletgoers can take in some nightlife afterward. It also allows more homegrown choreography to encourage local talent. 

If the first production of the series is an indicator, it may well become an event not to miss. 

There’s another performance tonight at 7:30. Tickets are $12 general admission; or $20, which entitles you to a reusable lidded theater cup. Libation included. Info: