As part of its annual Summer Series, Grand Rapids Ballet is set to perform under the evening skies at two popular outdoor venues: The Listening Lawn at Studio Park in downtown Grand Rapids on August 19 and 20, and the amphitheater at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on August 30.
"Grand Rapids Ballet's Summer Series was conceived when we were looking for safe ways to perform during COVID-19, and our audiences and dancers enjoyed it so much that we've decided to continue this new tradition of performing outside in our beautiful Michigan summer," said James Sofranko, artistic director at Grand Rapids Ballet. "I love providing new and unique experiences for our audiences by stepping outside of the traditional theater, hopefully reaching new audiences along the way."
Featured works at Studio Park will include Sofranko's own "Mozart Symphony," an excerpt from his "A Dreamer," the pas de deux from "Romeo and Juliet," and selected works from "Jumpstart 2022." At Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, dancers will perform works including Katarzyna Skarpetowska's "Off the Canvas," George Balanchine's "Serenade," and excerpts from Sofranko's "Romeo and Juliet."
In addition to the outdoor performances at Studio Park and FMG, Grand Rapids Ballet continues its 50th anniversary year by announcing a first-of-its-kind free Summer Dance Festival, taking place outside the Peter Martin Wege Theatre on Friday, August 26 and Saturday, August 27. In collaboration with other performance groups throughout Michigan, GRB invites guests to enjoy two evenings of world-class dance, tasty food from local food trucks, and Michigan-made beer—all under the summer evening skies.
"The idea for our Summer Dance Festival was born out of a community-wide celebration of our 50th anniversary, and in that spirit, I've opened the stage to performers from our diverse local dance community," said Sofranko. "I hope that people will recognize not only the treasure of Grand Rapids Ballet that exists here but also the thriving arts scene and the multitude of dance organizations that bring art daily into our lives."
The outdoor stage will open for the first performance at 6 p.m., featuring classical ballet favorites and contemporary works performed by GRB's company dancers, apprentices and trainees. The evening also will feature performances by GRB School students. Guests are invited to bring their own chairs to enjoy the performances.
To celebrate dancers and different styles of dance from across the state, GRB is hosting various community dance partners who also will perform throughout the event, including Arthur Murray Dance Studio, Dancespire, Deos Contemporary Ballet, Edgar L. Page (August 26), Golden Tiger Kung Fu Academy (August 27), Grand Valley State University Dance Program, La Fuerza de Grand Rapids (August 26), Ray Love, and Traverse City Dance Project (August 27).
"We are excited to present an inclusive and community-centered showcase of the best dance artists and students in Grand Rapids," said Executive Director Glenn Del Vecchio. "We are very proud to have been a part of the art and culture of Grand Rapids for the past 50 years and look forward to continuing to serve our region and Michigan into the next 50!"
GRB's official season kicks off at its home theater, the Peter Martin Wege Theatre in October with "Elemental Movement," before continuing with the holiday favorite, "The Nutcracker" in December.
To learn more about upcoming performances and additional 50th anniversary GRB programming, visit Grand Rapids Ballet.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.
Photos courtesy of Grand Rapids Ballet.