Willam F. Christensen, founder and professor emeritus of the University of Utah department of ballet, will be guest artistic director of the Utah Ballet Company's spring concert, "A Christensen Tribute." The program will honor the Christensen brothers, Willam, Harold and Lew, and their contributions to American ballet.
Featured works will be three Christensen ballets: "Nothin' Doin' Bar" by Willam Christensen, Lew Christensen's "Con Amore," and a premiere work, "Cotillion" by Willam.Performances will be April 25, 27 and May 2-4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hayes/Christensen Theatre of the Marriott Center for Dance, on the U. of U. campus.
"Nothin' Doin' Bar," a parody of the Roaring '20s when speakeasies were the rage, has found national acclaim for its "genuine American flavor." "Mr. C" choreographed the work in 1950 for the San Francisco Ballet, while he was that company's artistic director (1937-51). Sets and costumes are provided courtesy of the San Francisco Ballet.
"Con Amore" (1953), one of Lew Christensen's best-known works, is a lively romantic ballet set to three Rossini overtures. Bene Arnold, former ballet mistress of both the San Francisco Ballet and Ballet West, was an original cast member and will stage the work for the Utah Ballet Company. Performing rights for "Con Amore" are a gift to the Utah Ballet from Gisella Caccialanza Christensen, wife of the late Lew Christensen. Costumes and scenery are provided courtesy of the San Francisco Ballet.
Guest artist Kristopher Payne of Ballet West will dance the Thief, with former Ballet West principal dancer Dianna Cuatto as the captain of the Amazons, a role she performed numerous times with Ballet West and Sacramento Ballet.
Willam Christensen describes his premiere, "Cotillion," as "19th-century dancing games." Set to waltzes, polkas, polka-mazurkas and galops of Josef Strauss and Johann Strauss Sr., the ballet will feature Dianna Cuatto and Mark Borchelt. Costumes are designed by David Heuvel.
Tickets for "A Christensen Tribute," priced at $7, or $4 for U. of U. students and children, are available at the Pioneer Theatre box office, Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; or one hour before curtain time at the Marriott Center box office.
A gala performance and reception will take place Friday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. For information on this event, call the department of ballet, 581-8231.
A symposium on "The Christensen Heritage and Tradition" will be held Saturday, April 27, at 1 p.m. in the Hayes/Christensen theatre. Panelists will be Willam F. Christensen, Gisella Caccialanza Christensen, Ruby Asquith Christensen and P.W. Manchester, noted dance critic and author, and admission is free.