Magic of dance lights up Mozart's 'Magic Flute'

3:55:08 PM CDT - Wednesday, February 15, 2006

By Shannon Littlejohn

The soul of Wichita is about to become richer, Nick Johnson said, citing Plato's
belief that the arts are the soul of society.

In a collaborative effort, the School of Performing Arts dance program, which Johnson directs, and Ballet Wichita, formerly the Metropolitan Ballet of Wichita, are bringing Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet to Wichita in "The Magic Flute," a well-loved and oft-sung opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The dancers from Canada will perform the choreography of Mark Godden, whose first full-length ballet, "Dracula," drew international acclaim. In "The Magic Flute," with its heroes, villains, distressed damsels and comic sidekicks, Godden "has managed to meld the profound and the profoundly silly into a truly beautiful contemporary ballet." (Winnipeg Free Press)

Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, in business for more than 65 years, has toured Canada, the United States and the world, giving about 150 performances a year.

Johnson, besides being excited to see the prestigious ballet company in performance, is equally pleased with the partnership between WSU and Ballet Wichita. Previous partnering successes, he said, include an evening with the Bolshoi Ballet and the original production of "Cinderella," which combined dance, theater, jazz music and film for a multimedia event on campus that Wichita audiences still talk about.

The partnership goes deeper than combining forces for events, however.

"Ballet Wichita and WSU dance have a long history of collaboration," said Johnson. For instance, WSU dancers perform every year in Ballet Wichita's popular Christmas production of "The Nutcracker." In turn, WSU dance includes Ballet Wichita's spring concert on its dance series.

The relationship also draws young dancers who have trained with Ballet Wichita's artistic director, Jill Landrith, to the university to pursue their dance degree. Landrith is also on the dance faculty at WSU.

WSU's program is strong, said Johnson, and includes a dynamic faculty with professional backgrounds, and two touring companies on the Kansas Arts Commission Touring Roster that have had regional and international performance engagements in China, Poland and Puerto Rico.

The Dallas-based Canadian consul will join with Ballet Wichita and WSU dance in hosting a pre-performance fund-raising reception at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. For more information on the reception, call Ann Garvey at 683-3024.

Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, sponsored by the WSU School of Performing Arts dance program and Ballet Wichita, will perform "The Magic Flute" at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Century II Concert Hall in downtown Wichita. Tickets are on sale through Wichita Tix, 219-4TIX (849), in Expo Hall south of Century II. Ticket prices are $25, $50 and $75; all seats are reserved.

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