The Ahn Trio joined the James Sewell Ballet at the WMPAC last year, combining dancers, musicians and instruments in a seamless production.

The Fabview: James Sewell Ballet returns to Big Sky this week

The James Sewell crew is known for their insightful and profound performances. I never understood ballet, and I still don't think I do, yet James has opened my thoughts and views to love and appreciate it.

News flash! On March 23 the James Sewell Ballet group will be performing in Big Sky on the WMPAC stage for their sixth annual winter performance there. If you have not had a chance to experience one of their one-of-a-kind shows, now is your chance.

The James Sewell crew is known for their insightful and profound performances. I never understood ballet, and I still don't think I do, yet James has opened my thoughts and views to love and appreciate the artform. 

The upcoming show’s work really started months ago: JSB comes to Big Sky in the summer for a couple weeks, drawing inspiration from Big Sky’s landscape and its people, to create something new. Going back to Minneapolis JSB finishes and polishes what they started here.

Flash forward to now – the winter WMPAC season – when they come back full circle to show us the finished version before taking the performance on to other venues across the country.

It is so amazing to see a piece go from vision to trial and then finally completion. I feel as though Big Sky has an inside view to the artistic process.

During one Big Sky summer session JSB spent a few days taking video clips of people in Montana doing, well, what we do here when it comes to work and play. For example, they studied how our bodies move when we’re fly fishing, rafting, horseback riding, skiing and snowboarding. They then transformed these unique movements into a dance. It was brilliant!

Another year JSB welcomed the musical talent of the Ahn Trio to Big Sky for a summer session where the Trio composed a new song and the JSB dancers created a new dance, melding the performances beautifully by performing onstage together. Either performance on its own would have been amazing, yet both simultaneously was mind-blowing!

In that memorable show the Trio’s violinist meandered amongst the dancers as she played. A dancer would sneak up behind her, plucking a string at the appropriate time. Another dancer ran dramatically across the stage to turn the pianist’s music pages when needed. The cellist, perched on a small platform with wheels, was spun around the stage by dancers as she played. This created some of the most beautiful synchronicity I have ever experienced.

Last summer I saw James Sewell in the lobby of the hotel he and his team were checking into. He said, "Garon, I want you to come dance with us onstage..." I immediately started laughing and responded, "I'm not a dancer, and especially not ballet," and he responded, "But you are not afraid to get onstage in front of people and move your body…"

I thought for a minute, and said, "You’re right!" So, I did.

This was part of James’ desire to be inclusive of the local Big Sky community, incorporating us even more into the artistic creation process and resulting performance. I went to a couple short practices. He had us doing some basic moves that the professional dancers morphed into a full-on dance.

It was such a great experience to work onstage with these amazing dancers. 

So, now JSB is back, and they’ve once more invited me and a few other locals onstage with them. I feel so blessed and honored to not only be exposed to this great dance company, but to be directly involved with their work!

Come see us at the WMPAC at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday, March 23. There are a limited number of tickets left, so go to: warrenmillerpac.org to order yours.

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Lone Peak Lookout

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