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'Wild Sweet Love' ballet dancers speak candidly

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During the month of February in 2014, busy ballet dancers from the Sacramento Ballet have taken time out of their busy rehearsals to share their insights and personal feelings about the Wild Sweet Love triple ballet that they will perform in Feb. 13-16. The triple bill features three separate pieces called Wild Sweet Love, Wunderland, and Ma Cong's World Premier Acceptance. The uniquely separate ballets have been set together in order to bring a complete show of love themes that explore a broad range of feelings, passion and fun.

Evelyn Turner has been practicing and performing ballet for 20 years and states that Wild Sweet Love is "probably the most exciting performance we've put on since I joined the [Sacramento Ballet] company two years ago. I also think it's the most relatable because the pieces are all about love, loss and relationships." Turner performs in two of the three pieces (Wunderland and Acceptance) and feels that "having three separate pieces in a performance is nice because they are all short love stories. It gives you just enough substance and excitement without making you sit through a full length ballet."

The audience will find that the variety of styles, expressions and love themes will keep them stimulated and free to explore their own feelings without being stifled by tedious and long stories that are hard to comprehend. The variety also makes the show as a whole more relative to a greater number of people in both how they respond to the idea of love as well as how they respond to dance. This makes it a "totally unique Valentine's Day experience."

Turner's greatest challenge in this production has been getting out of her "pointe shoes and performing in flat shoes." Evelyn says that "it sounds silly, but as a ballet dancer we are so used to having excellent posture and are constantly told to pull up. When Ma Cong came, he wanted us to use the floor and push down. It's funny because his movement is more natural for the human body, but not natural for ballet dancers that are used to being on pointe all the time!"

The Wild Sweet Love theme personally resonates to Turner while she dances and finds a "strong connection" to her partner. She states, "There is definitely a sense of wild when I dance with my partner in Acceptance. Sometimes we have to tone it down because we get so excited and into the music that we forget the steps. Dancing Wunderland is where I feel I embody the sweet and love side. I think that might have something to do with the music being so soft and beautiful."

Fellow ballet dancer Ava Chatterson has been dancing for 22 years with this being her fourth year as a professional dancer. She performs in all three WSL ballets and feels that this show would be a great Valentine experience because of its "contemporary take on the idea of love." The program gives her and the audience an opportunity to "explore one idea (love) in three different ways." The choreographers each have their "own style and movement quality" which makes it a "fun challenge" as well giving the audience a greater glimpse into the world of ballet and the ideas of love.

Chatterson explains that the three pieces don't tell a specific story but allow the audience to "get different feelings." Her personal experience of the trio of words in this production comes through encountering various moments of "being wild or being sweet" but also working with ballet to express feelings of "frustration, joy, desperation, confusion, tenderness and so much more." She sees the triple bill as a beautiful program demonstrating the many parts of love through dance.

Sacramento Ballet dancer Rex Wheeler has been dancing for ten years and will perform in Wunderland and Wild Sweet Love. Wheeler says that "not only are these ballets all romantic in some way, they're also very current and a great representation of how the dance world is developing." This fact makes "a ticket to a cool, edgy evening of dance a perfect Valentine's Day gift."

The variety of music choices utilized by the three choreographers is Wheelers favorite part of the program. The variety creates "three entirely different atmospheres" which makes it endlessly "interesting." Rex has a humorous side and explains that Wild Sweet Love pertains to him personally because he drinks "rather sweet coffee," tends "to use the world 'lovely' a lot" (which he has "learned is more of a British thing") and on a daily basis his "hair is pretty wild."

Wheeler's greatest challenge in the production is building his stamina. He explains that he danced in Wunderland when it was performed by Sacramento Ballet before but he dances more in this WSL Valentine program. "The stamina it requires is tough but so worth it," he says. And along with the challenges, it is "amazing."

The February performances will run Feb. 13-16 with three 7:30 p.m. shows and one 2:00 p.m. show. More information can be found at the official Sacramento Ballet website here. You can read more about the Sacramento Ballet dancers' perspectives on Wild Sweet Love at the articles "Ballet dancers reveal Wild Sweet Love" and "Wild Sweet Love ballet dancers speak on love." Coverage of the Red Hot Valentine evening which took place on Feb. 8 and included a reception with wine, desserts, and excerpts of Wild Sweet Love can be found here.

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