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In step again: James Sewell Ballet returns to the Southern

Following the Southern Theater’s release of artistic director Jeff Bartlett and the ensuing outcry last summer, who knew whether or not the James Sewell Ballet would appear — as scheduled — this coming weekend.

Following the Southern Theater’s release of artistic director Jeff Bartlett and the ensuing outcry last summer, who knew whether or not the James Sewell Ballet would appear — as scheduled — this coming weekend. Sewell was one of the most outspoken advocates of Bartlett, and appeared poised to pull his Ballet Works Project from the docket.

But the show goes on: the first appearance of JSB at the Southern in a set of world premieres funded by the Jerome Foundation’s Ballet Works Project. Since 1999, the foundation has supported JSB with funding for the commission of new works by company dancers — and choreographers outside of the company — that “connect artists with audiences and advance contemporary ballet,” according to a foundation document.

The show includes the quartet “Simple Folk” by longtime dancer Penelope Freeh, in which characters and stories emerge from traditional folk songs. Dancer Nicolas Lincoln’s “Yearnings” is performed to live percussion combined with a live feed from an Internet radio station.

JSB co-founder Sally Rousse has recast the ballet classic “Petrouchka” with dancers and puppets. And the Twin Cities reigning queen of post-modern or experimental dance, Morgan Thorson, assembled a new seven-minute work for the company in nine rehearsals that focuses on the dancers’ communication dynamics — which, in its possibilities for revelation and narrative, could be worth the ticket price itself.

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Ballet Works Project, James Sewell Ballet. 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 29); 8 p.m. Friday (Jan. 30) and Saturday (Jan. 31); 2 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 1). Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis. ($26) 612-340-1725.