Disco: it's dead.
Unless, of course, you're Italian.
Tulsa Ballet's newest production, In Black, features an energetic send-up of the Italian obsession with the disco era, "Viva Verdi," along with two other pieces, "Black Cake" and "Remansos."
"Having a premiere and two major pieces in one triple-bill is a major coup for Tulsa Ballet and our audience," said Todd Cunningham, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Ballet.
Luciano Cannito, the creator of "Viva Verdi," has a keen finger on the pulse of Italian dance, being the director of the Italy's Teatro Massimo Ballet.
"This is my first surreal ballet. I was hoping to share a laugh and entertain the people of Tulsa. I decided the easiest way to do this was to make a joke of Italian culture in the '70s," said Cannito.
Cannito's most memorable collaboration with the Tulsa Ballet was in Mare Nostrum during its 1998-99 season. However, Cannito and Tulsa Ballet's Artistic Director Marcello Angelini have shared a long friendship.
"Luciano and Marcello have known each other for most of their lives," said Cunningham.
This friendly meeting of the minds sets the production's tone. Although "Remansos" is more sober than its accompanying pieces in this production, audiences may look forward to a lighthearted evening in both "Viva Verdi" and "Black Cake."
"Remansos is a very famous piece by Nacho Duato that was set on American Ballet Theater in New York in 1997," said Cunningham.
"It was so original and unique at the time that it received critical acclaim. Where else can you see male dancers hanging upside down on a wall?"
Recent renovations underway at the Tulsa Ballet have presented a challenge. Construction bounced the dancers from room to room each day. Moving the special wall on which the dancers perform "Remansos" proved burdensome as well.
"Black Cake" provides a carefree contrast to "Remansos." It describes an evening in the lives of young socialites, whose manners become looser as they drink during an evening party.
"[It] pokes fun at high society and the relationships between men and women. The most famous part is the ending where everyone on stage is drunk," said Cunningham.
Throughout In Black, Angelini holds up a mirror to contemporary culture, and invites audiences to gaze into it, laughing.
"Dance is enjoying a rise in popularity now thanks to the many TV shows like 'So You Think You Can Dance,' 'Dancing with the Stars,' and 'Your Mama Don't Dance,'" said Angelini.
"In Black features the best of the types of dance you see on those shows and it is presented by professionals. If someone enjoys those shows, they should come to In Black for a completely new perspective on contemporary dance."
The curtain rises for In Black at the Chapman Music Hall of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center on March 28-29 at 8pm, with a Sunday matinee at 3pm. For tickets, visit www.tulsaballet.org or call 749-6006.
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