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Win tickets to ‘Beauty and the Beast’ ballet

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UPDATE: Congratulations to our winner, Sarah Pearce.

ORIGINAL POST: A charming family option awaits this Saturday: the annual story ballet from The State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara. This year’s original ballet, “Beauty and the Beast,” tells the classic fairy tale through contemporary dance. I have a family pack of four tickets to give away to a lucky Beehive reader to the 2 p.m. performance at the Saroyan Theatre.

For those of you up to your ears in singing teacups, never fear: This isn’t the Disney version. From my Sunday column:

This “Beauty and the Beast” is an original retelling of the classic fairy tale by Robert Sund, a guest choreographer for the Santa Barbara company. Recorded music by Tchaikovsky will accompany the 22 professional members of the company, along with 20 advanced local area ballet students …

Instead of servants turned into enchanted objects, this production is more nature oriented, with insects and animals personified through contemporary ballet. There’s still the same basic plot of Belle being imprisoned by the prince-turned-beast, but there are many changes, such as a squad of fairies (played by local dancers) working their magic.

Here’s how to enter the contest: To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling us if you’ve ever seen a non-Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast.” I’ll pick one comment at random. The winner will receive four tickets. No repeat entries, please. These are paper tickets, so you’ll need to come down to The Bee’s front lobby by 5 p.m. Friday to pick them up. Deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Wednesday. Be sure to check your email after the deadline, because that’s how I’ll inform winners. Complete rules are after the jump.

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Donald’s weekend picks

Who needs shopping, anyway?

1. SAY GOODBYE TO ‘ROCKY’
If you haven’t yet seen the Artists’ Repertory Theatre production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” what are you thinking? It’s a great evening. Here’s my review. There are two more performances: 8 p.m. today and Saturday.  [Details]

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Win tickets to ‘The Secret Garden’ ballet

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UPDATE: Congratulations to our winners: Jennifer Anderson, Amy Hance, Kim Steinhauer and Brittney Jennings. Enjoy!

ORIGINAL POST: For several years now, the Valley Performing Arts Council has partnered with the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara to bring high-quality story ballets to Fresno aimed at younger audiences. In the past we’ve seen “Cinderella” and “The Jungle Book.” The newest title from Santa Barbara is an original adaptation of “The Secret Garden,” the classic Frances Hodgson Burnett story about an orphan who discovers a wonderful locked garden on her uncle’s forlorn estate.

The ballet will be performed 3 p.m. Saturday at the Saroyan Theatre. And we at the Beehive have 10 tickets — each with a face value of $59.50 — to give away to readers.

Here’s how we’re going to work this contest. Leave a comment on this post indicating whether you’d like to win a package of either four or two tickets. We’ll draw names at random until all the tickets are gone. (In other words, if the first two commenters want four tickets each, there will be three winners total — the first two receiving four tickets and the third receiving two. Or, we could conceivably have five winners if each only want two tickets.)

You’ll be able to pick up your tickets at Will Call before the performance. Deadline is 11 a.m. Friday. Here’s an important part: I’ll be sending out emails to the winners between 11 and 11:15 a.m., so when you enter, provide a real e-mail address and please check your e-mail. If you’d prefer, you can leave a phone number where you can be reached at that time, and I’ll make sure it isn’t published online. I reserve the right to pick another winner if I don’t get a response to my email by noon.

One entry per person. You’re ineligible if you’ve won something from us in the past 30 days. Complete rules after the jump.

REVIEW: Live music returns to ‘The Nutcracker’

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When conductor Henrik Jul Hansen raised his baton on Sunday for the opening notes of “The Nutcracker,” it was a fantastic moment.

Ever since the Valley Performing Arts Council teamed with the Sacramento Ballet in 2007 to present a Thanksgiving weekend performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Saroyan Theatre, the production has used recorded music. Many audience members have probably grown accustomed to the experience since then. After all, it’s perfectly good recorded music, right? What difference can it make?

They didn’t know what they were missing.

This year, musicians from the Fresno Grand Opera orchestra — named the Fresno Ballet Theatre Orchestra for this occasion — were on hand to play Tchaivkovsky’s score live, and it added an extra zest to an already fine performance.

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To-Do This Weekend: ‘The Nutcracker’

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I know, it’s probably still too early for many of you to give a thought to the weekend. You still have turkey to think about. But a little planning ahead can save you some bucks — and nab you some decent seats — at this weekend’s performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Saroyan Theatre. Ballet co-sponsor Fresno Grand Opera — whose musicians are providing live accompaniment for the event for the first time in years — is holding a “Black Friday” sale through Friday offering 25% off listed ticket prices.

The production, which features 30 professional members of the Sacramento Ballet and more than 100 local dancers, will be performed 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. I have a story in Thursday’s Life section about the live-music angle for this year’s show, so be sure and check it out.

Win tickets to ‘The Nutcracker’

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Here’s the post-Thanksgiving ticket freebie you’ve been waiting for: I have two tickets to give away to the Saturday 1 p.m. matinee performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Saroyan Theatre. This Fresno Ballet Theatre production, presented by the non-profit Valley Performing Arts Council, features 30 professional members of the Sacramento Ballet, more than 100 local dancers and accompaniment by the Fresno Grand Opera orchestra. It’ll be the first time since 2007 that a local “Nutcracker” production will be accompanied by live music.

To enter, leave a comment telling us what your favorite moment in “The Nutcracker” is — or why you’d like to see it for the first time. I’ll pick the winner at random. These are paper tickets, so you’ll need to be able to come down to The Bee’s front lobby by 5 p.m. Wednesday to pick them up. (The lobby is closed Thursday and Friday.)

Deadline is 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

I’ll notify the winner via e-mail — so please leave a real e-mail address and please check it. Duplicate entries are not allowed. You’re ineligible if you’ve won anything from the Beehive in the past 30 days. Full rules on the jump.

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Donald’s mailbag: ‘Worst ballet I’ve ever seen,’ plus where’s ‘Blue Valentine’?

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Patti Ogden and I had different views on the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara’s performance of “Jungle Book” at the Saroyan. I thought it was a mild success. She writes:

I found the performance to be utterly boring, and I would go as far to say it was the worst ballet I’ve ever seen. There was too much sameness to the whole show. The music and choreography were both boring. There wasn’t enough contrast in it either. There needs to be highs and lows, peaks and valleys to keep the performance interesting, especially when it’s a show that’s trying to pique the interest in dance with youngsters. Kids sitting around us were squirming in their seats. They were as bored as we were.

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DANCE REVIEW: ‘The Jungle Book’

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Those monkeys sure were darned cute.

The costumes were clever and the scenic design effective in Saturday’s performance of “The Jungle Book” at the Saroyan Theatre, a production of the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara in conjunction with the Valley Performing Arts Council. And the professional dancers of State Street made a strong impression in this adaptation of the classic Rudyard Kipling novel.

But for sheer darling appeal, not to mention a strong local connection, you couldn’t beat those little monkeys, young members of Fresno Dance Theater, who scampered through their supporting roles with aplomb.

This version of “The Jungle Book,” which has no connection to the Disney incarnation, features original music by Czech composer Milan Svoboda and choreography by Rodney Gustafson. The storyline follows the jungle boy Mowgli through his upbringing by the She-Wolf that raises him, chronicles his camaraderie with the various jungle animals (including a fun porcupine, a loveable sloth bear and a group of beautiful peacocks, pictured), and depicts him meeting his first human being, Messua, a young maiden.

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Donald’s weekend picks

1. A SMOOCH FROM THE YOUTH PHILHARMONIC
Valentine’s Day weekend is jam-packed with worthwhile events, many of them benefits. (Mike and I write about eight of the options in Friday’s 7 cover story.) One concert that looks especially promising is “Love Conquers All,” a fund-raiser for the Youth Orchestras of Fresno. Guest artist and acclaimed tenor Scott Piper joins the orchestra in a selection of favorite romantic arias. A dessert auction following the concert will give you a chance to satisfy your sweet tooth as well. Below, Piper works with Henry Woolf and Sophia Liang.

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Win tickets to ‘The Jungle Book’

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The Valley Performing Arts Council is working its magic again this weekend by partnering with a professional ballet company. And the production is a family-friendly show, so it’s perfect as a way to introduce kids to ballet. Selected school audiences will get a chance on Friday to see the new original ballet “The Jungle Book” presented by the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara. On Saturday, there’s a 2 p.m. performance open to the public. The production features 20 professional dancers from the company dancing with 40 local Fresno Dance Theater student dancers. I’ll have more on the show in Friday’s issue of 7.

Meanwhile, I have FOUR tickets each to the Saturday matinee to give away to two separate Beehive readers. To enter, just leave a comment below telling us your favorite jungle animal. Deadline to enter is 2 p.m. Wednesday. Our winners will be chosen at random and notified via e-mail, so leave a real address. No multiple comments. You’ll be able to pick up your four tickets at the Saroyan Theatre. You are ineligible if you’ve won something in the past 30 days. Full rules on the jump.

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