Winter Mix | Ballet Memphis

February 26-27, March 4-6, 2022

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A return to Playhouse!

Announcing our first performance of 2022: Winter Mix! Join us February 26th-27th and March 4th-6th at Playhouse on the Square to experience three different styles of music and dance. Our Winter Mix includes George Balanchine’s classic Concerto Barocco, company artist Brandon Ramey’s CAPTCHA, a new piece about humanity in an automated world, and Trey McIntyre’s world premiere of Patsy Cline Gets Her Heart Broken set to Cline's songs.

Experience the dynamics of sound, rhythm, dance, tempo, and love in this unforgettable performance!

Details

Co-founder of the New York City Ballet, George Balanchine is considered one of the most influential 20th century choreographers and the father of American Ballet. He created the neoclassical ballet Concerto Barocco set to Bach’s Concerto in D minor for two violins and said the two ballerinas in the first movement personify the violins. Balanchine muses, "If the dance designer sees in the development of classical dancing a counterpart in the development of music, and has studied them both, he will derive continual inspiration from great scores."

It was first performed in 1941 and remains in the repertoire of ballet companies around the world, being widely recognized as a masterpiece of composition and artistry. The convergence of music and balletic technique is made visible in this work for a corps of 10 women who artfully perform this vibrant and challenging piece while making it appear effortless.

Former New York Times Chief Dance Critic Alastair Macauley says of this piece, "Nobody dies, nobody falls to the ground, nobody falls in love - but much does happen. A group of women becomes a vision of pulsating classicism and gleaming American energy."

Company artist Brandon Ramey’s sensitivity to scale and detail come together in this new work that questions "What are the fundamental elements that define and set apart humanity in a quickly automating world?” Ramey will explore the idea that we are more unique in “how we do” rather than “what we do.”

After reading The Most Human Human by Brian Christian, Ramey became intrigued by the idea of artificial intelligence emulating human behavior and what that means for humanity in a quickly automating world. As workers, and even artists, how do we avoid becoming replicable and eventually replaceable?

This original work explores these ideas by using music from David Cope's artificial intelligence composition program, which he has named Emily Howell. Emily has a huge music library that she analyzes for musical patterns and mannerisms. She can then produce scores in the style of long-dead composers. Consider the piece as a Turing test for the audience – can they hear the humanity in a composition, or does Emily's algorithm fool them?

Ramey explains, "I am so often disturbed by how much of my communication with fellow humans is digital; how all the content/media/art I consume is filtered through an algorithmic approximation of my preferences. So many people create things that they know will be favored by these algorithms. Recent experience has shown us that these algorithms seem to like misinformation, deceit, and division. In the face of increasing virtualization, how can we still be the most human humans possible? I want the audience to leave feeling reinvigorated towards uniquely human traits: creativity, empathy, compassion, and love."

Popular contemporary choreographer Trey McIntyre uses the songs of country music legend Patsy Cline combined with the balletic form to create unique dances filled with great emotional depth and physical power in this new work. Its world premiere will be performed by our Ballet Memphis company artists at Playhouse on the Square!

McIntyre says of this work, "The piece plays with the tropes of romance and pulls apart the songs to try and discover what is under the gloss of romanticism. I'm also using several of Patsy Cline's more upbeat songs... I'm thinking about my grandmother a lot and her grounded, salt-of-the-earth personality, and also her open-heartedness and love."

The work elicits a range of emotions surrounding love and heartbreak set to beautiful movement of our dancers and the soulful sounds of Patsy's voice. Even decades after her untimely passing at age 30 (the 59th anniversary of her death will actually occur March 5, during the show's run) her songs continue to motivate artists like McIntyre to create novel pieces.

McIntyre has a long history with Ballet Memphis, and has created a number of important works for the company's repertoire including In Dreams, Memphis Suite, High Lonesome, and Pork Songs.