Eight to the Barre

Two long-time San Diego artists collaborate for a swinging good time! Beloved by jazz aficionados, swing dancers, and San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community, Sue Palmer burns up center stage surrounded by San Diego’s finest classical dancers. Not to be missed! The second half of the program features Artistic Director Javier Velasco’s seminal salute to Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman, SDB’s Opus…Swing!

May 20 @ 8pm 

May 21 @ 2:30pm

Balboa Theatre

868 4th Ave,
San Diego, Ca. 92101

Director’s Notes

8 to the Bar quite literally means 8 beats to the measure. Which to anyone in jazz means one thing. Boogie Woogie. Most music is written to have 4 beats in a bar. Boogie Woogie squishes 4 extra beats into that bar to create a driving, pulsing, energetic idiom. And the Queen of Boogie Woogie is San Diego’s own Sue Palmer. Not just a San Diego institution, but a long time friend as well. And a collaboration long overdue. With Sue’s Motel Swing Orchestra onstage backing up our dancers, I am sure the audience will be lifted out of their seats.

I think it is fitting that in this “Coming back from Covid” year, we began with Mambomania and we finish with Opus… Swing! Both pieces were instrumental in establishing the profile and identity of SDB and its commitment to creating vibrant work that resonates with its audience. A commitment that is highlighted by 2 different initiatives. The first is to create work to Latin themes and music. The second is to create work to jazz music. While these two initiatives don’t encompass everything that SDB does, they are 2 aspects of the company’s rep that are very personal to me.

When it comes to the jazz work, it is also important to me not just to create work to some of the seminal pieces of jazz music, but to work with some of the amazing artists who call San Diego home. We are the SAN DIEGO Ballet after all. In the past, that has meant commissioned works from resident composers Charles McPherson and Gilbert Castellanos, as well as works by Kamau Kenyatta and blues singer, Candye Kane. Which brings us to Eight to the Barre.

The second act of the program is the aforementioned, Opus… Swing! This ballet takes 3 of the greatest big bands (Ellington, Miller, Goodman) and arranges them into what overall would be a classical concerto. Each section has an ensemble that is led by a couple and various SDB dancers have performed the roles to great success. That said, I do need to single out two roles. The female lead in the opening Red section was originally performed by Khristina Kravas. A dancer of great intelligence who could move in the world between classical and contemporary dance with ease. She has left her mark not just on this ballet, but on the type of dancer that SDB has become known for. And the second dancer that needs to be highlighted was the original male leading the final section, Ricardo Peralta. Ricardo had a facility in all forms of dance and sense of humor that gave him an instant and powerful connection with whatever audience he appeared before. He was a mainstay of not just SDB but all of the San Diego dance scene. While his life was tragically cut short, his ebullience still remains with us. Both in memory and in the choreography of pieces that were specifically made for him.

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