Spin city: Big Easy ballet steps out in style

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NEW ORLEANS -- For travel agents with business travelers who may want to bring their families to the Crescent City, the New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) can provide "one good, solid Saturday night out," according to David Brown, the association's director of marketing.

Based in the Mahalia Jackson Theatre of the Performing Arts in Armstrong Park, adjacent to the French Quarter, the NOBA provides an ongoing series of multicultural dance performances that highlight the diversity of the city.

"We bring companies in from all over the world," Brown said. "What is important is that the dance represent those who live in New Orleans, that it be as culturally diverse as this city is.

"So it's very natural for us in one season to have two African-American companies, an Irish company, a Latin American group and a European company."

Remember this is New Orleans, the heart of multicultural America, the birthplace of jazz and rhythm and blues, Brown said.

And, he said, although ballet doesn't sound very kid-friendly, the NOBA's performances certainly are.

The performances are at the cutting edge of modern dance, which is -- thanks to media outlets such as MTV -- at the heart of mainstream American pop culture today, Brown said.

The NOBA's schedule of performances is a potpourri of influences.

On Feb. 1, the theater will present a return engagement of Complexions, a dance company put together by former Alvin Ailey dancers Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden that includes dancers from Alvin Ailey, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Ballet Hispanico. The dance style combines classical ballet, Broadway show attitude, Olympic gymnastics and savvy street dance.

Tickets to Complexions are $26, $35, $42, $52 and $75. Travel agents can buy tickets at a 10% discount for groups of 10 or more. Discounts on smaller groups are negotiable.

On March 15, the NOBA will present Grupo Corpo Brazilian Dance Theatre, which is known for its colorful costumes and its blending of indigenous Brazilian rhythms with classical ballet styles.

On April 11 and 12, the Joffrey Ballet will perform a series of pieces, known collectively as "Diaghilev Dynasty," based on the choreographer Serge Diaghilev of the Ballet Russe in Paris. Pieces include "The Rite of Spring," "Parade" and "Les Noces."

May 14 will bring Pilobolus Dance Theatre, a popular group that combines acrobatics, dance and humor.

For more information, call NOBA at (504) 522-0996 or visit the Web at www.nobadance.com.

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