Ballet West: Carmina Burana 

Friday Oct. 29-Saturday Oct. 30 @ Capitol Theater

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Nothing’s shocking any more. When John Butler’s Carmina Burana debuted in 1959 at New York’s City Center, audiences were stunned by its sensuality and sheer exploits into hedonism. Now, thanks to popular media, audiences barely bat an eye at such things. However, 50 years later, audiences are still moved in the same way—because, after all, ballet stirs in people an unmistakable, awe-inspiring and visceral love of art, movement and emotion. Perhaps that’s why Ballet West’s most-requested classic opens the company’s 2010-11 season. A collaboration between dancers (Christina Bennett is pictured), singers and orchestra, Ballet West hasn’t performed it for three years.

Set to Carl Orff’s score, Carmina Burana was inspired by 13th-century poems and texts found at a German monastery. They were written by disenfranchised monks and students who shunned ecclesiastic pursuits, preferring instead earthly pleasures of sex, drink and gluttony (sex, drugs and rock & roll wouldn’t come for another seven centuries). The duality of the piece also highlights man’s undeterrable path toward his own fate and the ephemeral nature of life.

However, it’s up to viewers to draw their own conclusions. The ballet is an impressionistic account of the various songs’ lyrical content, moving through three major sections—”Spring,” “In the Tavern” and “In the Court of Love.” George Balanchine’s mid-20th century The Four Temperaments—an abstraction on medieval beliefs that human nature consists of four humors, which affect general temperament—rounds out the evening.

Ballet West: Carmina Burana @ Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 801-534-1000, Oct. 29-30 & Nov. 4-6, 7:30 p.m., $18-$74, BalletWest.org, ArtTix.org.

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