On Stage

Dance-Off

Of rabbit holes, swans and rubies

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Every year, renowned actors, dancers, musicians, acrobats and other performers from around the globe make tour stops at the Mount Baker Theatre to share their talents as visiting artists, or as part of the space’s seasonal lineup. But a glance at MBT’s June’s roster—which features a number of Bellingham-based dance companies making their mark—proves local acts get their time under the spotlight, too.

The first gig on the list is Opus Performing Arts’ annual Spring Showcase, which can be attended Fri., May 31 and Sun., June 2 at the storied venue. Each year, the dance school that was founded by a group of parents who wanted to give their kids a high-quality dance experience merging both education and fun uses the show as a way to display the students’ progress in everything from ballet to contemporary dance, jazz, hip-hop and more. Audiences will see the emerging artists bring to life original works by artistic director Brook Evans, as well as from faculty members Celeste Hartsook, Tara Reiter, Tatyana Stahler, and Diane Williams.

For one night only—Fri., June 7—Ballet Bellingham will get in on the fun with a performance of Alice In Wonderland. Fans of the dance-focused version of the whimsical tale should know artistic director Jessica Crook has been dancing in Bellingham since 1983, when she began her training at the former Nancy Whyte School of Ballet. She then joined the Mt. Baker Ballet, and it was there she played the role of the Sea Queen in the tale of the young girl who tumbles down a rabbit hole and finds the adventure of her life. With decades of experience under her belt, she’s now choreographed her own vision of Alice in Wonderland, and you can witness the results.

That weekend will also feature another famous story writ large when Northwest Ballet Theater presents Swan Lake at June 8 and 9 showings at the MBT’s mainstage (and June 15-16 at McIntyre Hall). Artistic director John Bishop says this is the first time a local company in either Whatcom or Skagit county has produced the beloved ballet, and he’s looking forward to wowing crowds with ethereal visions (think mist-filled rows of graceful swans) and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score. Add in amazing costuming and sets and featured artists Alberto Gaspar and Julia Schwartz—an 11th grader at Bellingham High School who has been studying at Northwest Ballet Academy for 13 years and has performed in more than 20 productions—and you’d be remiss in not attending.

Skip forward a week, and June 15-17 will bring showings of Dancing for Joy’s “Chapters: Short Stories”. The collection of tales told through dance will include excerpts from Cinderella, The Lorax, Charlotte’s Web, Where the Wild Things Are, and more. From June 21-23, you can also help a local dance company celebrate a milestone by procuring tickets to the Dance Studio’s 40th Anniversary Production, “Rubies.” If you show your appreciation, they promise to reciprocate.

For more details about these productions, go to http://www.mountbakertheatre.com

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