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Imagine Ballet Theatre presents ‘Small Pieces Greater Together’ with themes of empathy and inclusion

By Deann Armes special To The Standard-Examiner - | Apr 8, 2021
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Imagine Ballet Theatre will present “Small Pieces Greater Together" on April 23-24 at Peery's Egyptian Theatre.

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Imagine Ballet Theatre will present “Small Pieces Greater Together" on April 23-24 at Peery's Egyptian Theatre.

The award-winning Imagine Ballet Theatre (IBT) presents “Small Pieces Greater Together,” a production of four world premiers and two returning pieces that will offer the renewed energy we seek as we emerge from a pandemic.

The performances will be at 7:30 p.m. April 23-24 at the historic Peery’s Egyptian Theater.

“Experiences and lessons from the pandemic have taught the dancers to be safe with and respect one another, which truly shines in this premier production during the delicate stage of finally emerging from a pandemic back to a more normal life,” IBT said in a statement.

The six pieces will create a performance that “beautifully combines artistic talent with a theme of empathy and inclusion” for all: “The Red Balloon” is the story about a boy and his balloon; “Pursuit” is about the need and desire to fit into the norm yet being singled out by society and peers; “Answer My Call” depicts finding love and hope when the earth is in its most bitter moments; “Axyst” portrays particular interactions taking place in daily life that we may or may not recognize; “Breath Between the Lines” is a piece about connection; and “Essence of a Rose” is about love, growth, compassion and the life of a dancer.

“Empathy comes out in good choreography, as we are sharing sometimes difficult subject matter and hopefully causing a conversation with our audience,” said Raymond Van Mason, artistic director, choreographer and teacher of IBT. He describes inclusion as the “silent art” of dance in allowing every dancer to bring their own personal stories into the dances they are creating.

“Small pieces” is easier to manage on the stage during COVID than a large-scale story ballet, according to Mason. This program is designed to allow IBT back on stage.

“COVID-19 has made us more creative with how we arrive at the steps as we have tried to keep many things socially distant,” Mason said.

Funding has been a concern as they have not filled theaters to capacity over the past year and lost dancers due to masking and having to Zoom in the early stages. “Dance is definitely a better experience for the dancer to be in a studio where they can move,” he said. But they’ve been able to keep dancers performing to smaller houses, and rehearsals for “Small Pieces Greater Together” began in January.

Mason, an award-winning dancer/director and former a principal artist with Ballet West (Salt Lake City) — leading roles such as “Swan Lake,” “Giselle,” “The Nutcracker,” “Sleeping Beauty” — created Imagine Ballet Theatre in 2004.

“I wanted to give young dancers the opportunity to work like a professional dancer with different choreographers, guest artists, and to develop their stage skills,” Mason said.

Most IBT shows, including the beloved annual performance of “The Nutcracker,” are performed at Peery’s Egyptian Theater, and sometimes their own Studio Black Box. They have also performed at Ogden Amphitheater, Capital Theater, The Allred at Weber State and Kingsbury Hall.

Read more about the upcoming “Small Pieces Greater Together” and purchase tickets at ogdenpet.com/events.

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