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Ballet, Bach and Beer highlights community collaboration

If there’s one way to appreciate a German composer, it’s with beer.

Canyon Concert Ballet and NoCo Artists collaborated to bring together hand-selected German draft beers by High Country Beverage, ballet and the music of famed German composer Johann Sebastian Bach Saturday night. The Community Creative Center created an intimate setting between the audience, the musicians and the principle dancers of Canyon Concert Ballet.

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Before the show began, audience members were given the chance to try German beer while browsing photography by Scott Laumann. The photography depicted some of the dancers of Canyon Concert Ballet shot at Eagles Nest Open Space in Fort Collins. The photos were sold to benefit the ballet company.

hand holding up a dark beer
Ballet Bach and Beer offered three German beer styles including dunkel, (shown here) which is German for “dark.” Audience members sipped on their brews while viewing photography of company dancers. (Sarah Ehrlich | Collegian)

The goal of Ballet, Bach and Beer was to inspire people to look at ballet in a new light. Instead of complicated storylines, the intricate variations of Bach’s music brought new focus to how ballet is watched.

“Bach’s music as a concept is enough,” said Alicia Laumann, Canyon Concert Ballet’s artistic director and choreographer. “In wanting to share the rehearsal space with the musicians as well as Bach’s composition, I decided not to add a layer of context or storyline to the dances.”

The way Bach’s compositions unfold with such complexity was a challenge Laumann and the dancers were delighted to take on. Bach’s play on theme and variation made the performance unique and open for anyone’s interpretation of the choreography.

The program opened with four flute sonatas, which included choreography from the dancers. The musicians then played a prelude and two chorales, which are church hymns. Preludes and chorales were a large part of Bach’s composition because of his faith in the Christian church.

After a brief intermission, an unaccompanied cello played a haunting rendition of a suite in D minor as the dancers included chairs and interaction with the cellist in their choreography. In this performance, the contrast between dancer and musician was seen in a new light.

ballet dancers in colorful costumes.
Nicole Ferreri (in red) along with her classmates dance to the final Bach variations during Ballet Bach and Beer. Bach is one composer the dancers were excited to dance to considering he is an uncommon composer in the dance world. (Sarah Ehrlich | Collegian)

The cellists, pianists, violinists, and flutist came from all over the country and all now live and work in Northern Colorado. The dancers also come from various places, but two are current students at CSU and have been dancing for over 16 years.

Mykaila Blumhardt is a sophomore veterinary medicine student and fourth year company member at Canyon Concert Ballet. She has appeared in numerous company performances and enjoys both contemporary and classical pieces.

“I have been dancing since I was three,” Blumhardt said. “Working with live musicians is something we don’t do very often, so that was definitely my favorite part of the performance.”

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Nicole Ferreri is a senior health and exercise science student and fifth year company member at Canyon Concert Ballet. Like Blumhardt, Ferreri has appeared in various roles, with the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker being one of her favorites to perform.

4 musicians play violins, cello and piano.
NoCo artists collaborated with Canyon Concert Ballet to perform intricate pieces by JS Bach. The intimate setting allowed audience members to truly connect with the artists. (Sarah Ehrlich | Collegian)

“Dancing to Bach is all pretty new to us,” Ferreri said. “We haven’t done anything with this composer, so I think as a whole this was a very unique production.”

The beer and intimate setting of this performance brought many different people out to this community event. Bach’s music is not exactly known to be used for dancing, but Canyon Concert Ballet and NoCo Artists collaborated in such a way that made Bach’s music ideal for classical ballet, along with some quirky choreography.

More information about Canyon Concert Ballet and NoCo Artists can be found at ccballet.org and www.nocoartists.org.

Collegian reporter Sarah Ehrlich can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @SarahEhrlich96.

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