Dancing Under the Influence at the Sacramento Ballet

by juli boggs

In my enthusiasm over the Sacramento Ballet’s recent show Beer and Ballet I produced a review for the Sacramento News and Review that we didn’t end up using, but why waste all those words? Read it here on the blog! A longer preview I wrote last week for Beer and Ballet can be found in the SNR archives here. Read on for the unpublished piece.

A good buzz and a close seat make ballet seem nothing short of a miracle. Every soused sous-sous, pickled pirouette, and crapulous cabriole are stunning and nauseating in their graceful fluidity, necessitating the observing tippler to either grab another drink or abstain completely. But then it wouldn’t be Beer and Ballet, would it?

Upon entering the Sacramento Ballet’s studio space for an evening of drink and dance you are handed two drink tickets.  Dancers brewed the studio’s special heffeweisen Stumbleina and marzen Black-Out Swan especially for the occasion with the help of the enabling folk over at Brew It Up. While the featured libations will not be winning any awards for flavor, they are serviceable in their alcohol content, an all-important characteristic of beers both good and great.

It’s to be expected that an event held in a studio would be intimate, but the extent to which this applies to Beer and Ballet seems to turn the event into less of a show and more of an awkward party. One where you’re on your way to feeling frank and sassy when you suddenly realize your grade school teacher is present, as well as a handful of your parents’ friends. And there’s an old neighbor, and a relative of your boss! What kind of party is this? You know you should be on your best behavior, but it’s hard, because you’re drunk. That and you’re trying to watch a wonderful ballet.

Just as the audience is fully aware of every drop of sweat, squeaking shoe, and heavy breath taken by the performing dancers, so must the dancers be aware of the audience’s increasingly loose behavior from act to act. One drink makes you sleepy, two drinks makes you dizzy, and three drinks make you a little sensitive.  Uptight? Get over it! Let the dancers’ sensual movements paired with the grandeur of Phillip Glass take you where it will- unless it’s giggly. Grown men standing completely bare save their very tighty whiteys is not funny. It’s contemporary.

I kid, go ahead and guffaw. The mood is not all serious. In fact, the personal introductions before each dance set the tone appropriately for the piece, a majority of which are lively, funny, and dare I say it, silly.  Dancer Chloe Horn appears repeatedly in front of the audience to prove herself as lovable as the pieces she choreographs.  Christopher Nachtrab likewise lightens the show with a modestly comic tribute to the oft-overlooked instrument the euphonium. Wrapping up the show, the entire company contributes to “The Professionals” as choreographed by Rex Wheeler, a three stooges-esque whirlwind spoof on the inner workings of a ballet company.

As amazing things tend to sell out fast, Beer and Ballet tickets are already going, going gone. Got yours already? Congratulations, now’s your time to practice your composure in polite society. And if you already missed the boat? Don’t worry about it! Beer, widely available everywhere until 2 AM (even on Sundays!), is sure to make you feel better.

Feature image by the Sacramento Ballet.