Minnesota Dance Theatre has made a smart move. The contemporary ballet company has turned its exciting, enlightening version of “Carmina Burana” into a regular event. Every couple of years, the troupe revives the work, which is performed with singers Bradley Greenwald, Jennifer Baldwin Peden and Justin Madel moving on stage with the dancers, backed by the Minnesota Chorale.
You know the music: Because of its gothic, military explosiveness, it’s been used, or mimicked, in the movie scores of “Excalibur,” “Badlands” and “Platoon.” When “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi,” the opening of composer Carl Orff’s 1937 “Carmina Burana,” bursts forth from the Minnesota Chorale, it’s quite a visual and aural charge. For one thing, the chorus is standing on the stage, with the dancers streaming in between their ranks. The effect generates an undercurrent of tension and longing that reflects that of the music.
MDT’s founder, the late Loyce Houlton, choreographed the work in the 1970s. Orff’s composition was inspired by the bawdy poems of rogue 13th-century monks and conveys their notions of temptation and sensuality, which the dancers beautifully convey. Their blend of ballet and modern movement is timeless and resonant in this work of spiritual power and carnal lust.