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Spring ballet presenting timeless favorites in Livermore

'Swan Lake' and 'Rodeo' offer beauty paired with energy

Valley Dance Theatre will showcase the beauty of classical ballet as well as contemporary delights at its annual repertory production, "Spring Rep," next weekend at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.

The performance will have excerpts from Tchaikovsky's traditional classic, "Swan Lake," as well as Aaron Copland's modern ballet, "Rodeo," accompanied by the Valley Dance Theatre Pit Orchestra.

"The two contrasting, yet enduringly popular pieces -- the elegant beauty of 'Swan Lake' paired with the vibrant energy of 'Rodeo' -- make a fitting close to Valley Dance Theatre's season as the company prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year," artistic director Betsy Hausburg said.

One of the best loved of all ballets, "Swan Lake" portrays romance, drama and tragedy. It is the story of a young maiden, Odette, who is cursed by the evil sorcerer, Rothbart, to live as a swan and able to take human form only by moonlight. True love has the power to break the spell, but when Sigfried pledges his love to the white swan, Rothbart sends his daughter, Odile, disguised as the black swan. Tragedy follows.

"The ballet is known not only for the 'Entrance of the Swans,' which will be performed by 16 Valley Dance Theatre dancers, but also for the tour-de-force dancing required by both the white swan and a black swan conjured by Rothbart," Hausburg said. "Anna Mount of Valley Dance will perform both roles, partnered by returning guest dancers Jacob Casey and Maxwell Simoes."

"Rodeo," on the other hand, which premiered in 1942, is all about cowboys, their girlfriends and the famous Hoedown. The lively and dramatic sounds of Copland's well-known score is the background to a simple love story set in the 19th century ranchlands of the American Southwest.

The music of "Rodeo" has endured, performed as a ballet and orchestra only, and has also been used as background on stage, in television programs and commercials, and for the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"Spring Rep" performances are at 7 p.m. next Saturday (May 25); and at 2 p.m. next Sunday (May 26). The Bankhead Theater is located at 2400 First St. in Livermore.

Tickets are $30 for adults and $14 for students 17 years and younger, with a 10% discount for groups of 10 or more. Purchase tickets online at www.bankheadtheater.org; by phone at 373-6800; or at the theater box office.

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