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Cult music and corsets: Royal Winnipeg Ballet returns with ‘Carmina Burana’

Carmina Burana
Bruce Monk
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s “Carmina Burana.”

You know the music. Since composer Carl Orff’s cinematic “Carmina Burana” premiered at the Frankfurt Opera in 1937, its soaring, roaring chorus – “O Fortuna” – has accompanied TV commercials for Reebok shoes, Old Spice cologne, Guinness beer and Pringles potato chips. A favorite of European Goth bands, the music has also been used in such films as John Boorman’s “Excalibur.”

Ballet choreographers also can’t resist its inherent drama. Among its many stagings: In 2004, Lise Houlton, artistic director of Minnesota Dance Theater, and Dominique Serrand, of Theatre de la Jeune Lune, created an innovative version based on the late Loyce Houlton’s choreography that placed singers and dancers together on stage in a swirling mass of humanity.

Saturday night, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will present resident choreographer Mauricio Wainrot’s version of “Carmina Burana,” which is reportedly quite popular across Canada. One Winnipeg critic lauded the performance’s “cool, pagan beat,” and its “visual reckoning of just how cool the music is.” Wainrot gives Orff’s score – based on 24 poems in a manuscript collection found in 1803 in the Benediktbeuern monastery in Bavaria – a contemporary staging with the dancers in corsets against a steel-frame backdrop.

Noted for artistic adventurousness
Founded in 1939, Royal Winnipeg Ballet holds the status of oldest, continuously operating ballet company in North America. Now under the artistic direction of André Lewis, however, the troupe has been noted for its youthful dancers, technical vigor and artistic adventurousness.

This weekend’s program also includes a Balanchine work, for those contemporary traditionalists in the audience. The 1948 “Concerto Barocco,” set to J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, features Balanchine’s complex, sculptural, precise modern choreography for 10 women and one man, in an expression of musicality.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Northrop Auditorium, 84 Church Street SE, Minneapolis
Tickets: $33-$65, Northrup Auditorium
Phone: 612-624-2345

Also this weekend:

Savion Glover, often referred to the greatest, most musical tap dancer currently on the planet, concentrates his percussive movement on Latin and Caribbean rhythms in this show, “Bare Soundz.”

When: 7 p.m., Sunday
Where: Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Tickets: $20-$47, box office
Phone: 612-371-5656

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