Ballet Quad Cities Brings Varied “Love Stories” to Outing Club This Weekend
If you want to see the beguiling dancers of Ballet Quad Cities in “Love Stories” this weekend, you need to act fast.
Ticket sales will end Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 11 a.m., for reservations at the Outing Club (2109 Brady St., Davenport) for performances Friday at 6:30 p.m., or Saturday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
The first show is “Burgers and Ballet,” to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend. Enjoy a casual evening of fabulous dance entertainment and dinner, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. for drinks.
On Saturday, for the first show doors open at the grand ballroom at 1 p.m. for beverages and assorted desserts will be available a la carte. Desserts and bar are cash only; no credit cards. For the evening show, you can enjoy a three-course dinner with the ballet, and doors again will doors open at 5:30 p.m. for cocktails.
There will be cap of 70 total seating capacity for each performance, with tables for two, four, six, or eight guests. Everyone in your party must purchase tickets together.
At the Outing Club, the reimagined season since last summer has “gone extremely well, but it’s limited
audience,” BQC executive director Joedy Cook said Monday. “It’s very difficult to make any money selling tickets.”
“We could have a lot more people, because the state of Iowa is totally open now, but we are continuing to be responsible and safe, and take good care of our audience and our performers,” she said.
“We are keeping people employed; we are offering live entertainment to the Quad-Cities; people have been driving in from St. Louis and Chicago for the performances,” she said. “It’s a wonderful partnership.”
They made a video recording of the Halloween performance available online for purchase, but BQC hasn’t made a habit of streaming shows online.
“In the dance industry – unless you are a very well-known, large ballet company – people really don’t want to see the performances,” Cook said. “And right now, everybody’s tiring of seeing anything virtual. It costs a great deal of money to hire the lights you need, the cameras to do
it correctly, and the editing.
“Our company is small; we don’t have the capability to do that,” she said. “So we’ve just opted to do what we’ve done, and it’s worked extremely well. And we are just grateful.”
Among highlights of the new “Love Stories” is a 10-minute duet (or pas de deux) from the opera “Carmen,” featuring guest artist Malachi Squires and company member Sage Feldges, each in their third season dancing
with the professional company.
“’Carmen’ is one of the most popular operas; it’s pretty well-known,” Squires said Monday.
Feldges said the duet offers character development — parts where they each dance solo, together, tease each other, they fight and make up in passionate romance, with dramatic, operatic music.
They debuted it in September 2019, at BQC’s premiere in Augustana College’s Bruner Theatre.
Last year, BQC did not have a Valentine’s program because they were preparing for “Sleeping Beauty,” which was to open in April and got canceled due to Covid. They also did a special performance of Stravinsky’s “Dumbarton Oaks” with Orchestra Iowa on March 6-7, 2020, in Coralville and Cedar Rapids.
“It’s just a very intricate piece; it’s very hypnotizing when you’re watching it,” Feldges said.
“Everybody wants to see it again because you see something different every time you watch it,” she said, noting the dancers often create arresting still images with the chairs.
“It kind of restricts the movement, to be in a contained space,” Squires said. “You have to stay close together to make it work.”
“It looks very daring when you’re watching it, with some dancers on pointe, on the chairs,” Feldges said, noting it adds tension and suspense. “It almost feels like we’re on a ship together at sea.”
The Outing Club program showcases a great variety of musical and dance styles.
“It’s introducing a lot of other people to our programs and it’s just trying to spread a lot of joy with our performances as well,” Feldges said. “There’s a little bit of everything for everyone, which I think is great.”
The challenges of Covid require dancers to wear masks in rehearsals, but they’ve stayed in their own bubble – not going out except to the Rock Island studio – and that allows them to maintain original choreography.
“Everybody’s pretty much quarantined,” Squires said.
“We all just go to the studio and go home pretty much,” Feldges said. “We’re able to do our normal choreography.”
Squires has not danced as part of the Outing Club programs that Ballet Quad Cities started there last summer. He’s a Chicago-based guest artist, where unfortunately live performances have shut down since last March.
“All the theaters are closed,” Squires said. “All my stuff I was contracted for got cut in March.”
Squirestrained at Houston Ballet Academy, and Marin Dance Theater, and has danced at the Harris Theater and the Goodman Theater in Chicago, as well as performing in “An American Portrait,” “Carmen” and “La Clemenza di Tito” at the Chicago Lyric Opera.
His many credits with Les Grandiva Ballets include performing in New York, Seoul and over 70 cities in Japan, with an appearance on national television in the leading male roles in “Swan Lake,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Sleeping Beauty.” He has appeared in numerous works with Fort Worth Dallas Ballet.
Guest engagements have included the Chicago Civic Ballet, Hilton Head Dance Theater, Rochester Dance Company, and Marin Dance Theater. Squires has choreographed for Mesopotamia Night Chicago, Dance in the Parks Chicago, and the Houston Artist of the Year Awards. As a teacher, he’s been associated with Joel Hall Dance Center, Minnesota Youth Ballet, a number of schools in the Chicago area and the Houston Arts in Education Program.
Pros and cons of theater vs. ballroom
There are pros and cons to both dancing in a traditional theater setting, versus the Outing Club ballroom, with a smaller crowd where people can eat and drink while enjoying the program, Squires said.
“With an intimate environment, it’s easier to feel what’s happening, so for more intimate pieces, it’s nicer to have closer audiences,” he said.
“For like big ballets, it’s easier to see all the formations from a distance.”
Feldges said BQC artistic director and choreographer Courtney Lyon has tailored their shows to the Outing Club space.
“She’s hand-picked the pieces that we’ve done to complement the space that we’re in,” she said. “When we did ‘Nutcracker’ too, she reimagined it in a way that it would fit the setting, that would feel appropriate in the smaller venue. Courtney’s been doing a great job with that.”
“The things that we’ve been doing have been very playful,” Feldges said. In September, she enjoyed playing a pixie outdoors, and for the Halloween show in October, it was fun to be a witch and stare down the audience, she said. “I’m looking forward to doing ‘Carmen,’ and making eye contact with the audience, and same thing with ‘Bolero,’ really kind of connect with the audience on a different level.”
“Love Stories” also includes a beautiful “Paquita” variations, with dancers in tutus and pink tights, she noted. There’s a more contemporary pas de deux with Rachel Martens and Nick Bartolotti that’s another highlight, as well as a jazz number.
BQC has done every show during Covid at the Outing Club and the dancers have felt very comfortable there, Feldges said.
It’s not hard to do more than one performance a day, since they train for it, she said.
“We’ve got to eat right and sleep well, and soak our feet in salt water. We’re athletes just like anyone else,” Feldges said. “We’ve got to train for it. That’s been very lucky for us as well, because a lot of dancers haven’t been able to perform. It’s been a fun challenge, for us to be able to do three shows a day.”
She began dancing in Festus, Missouri at the age of 3. From there she trained with Milwaukee Ballet Academy and studied a year of modern dance with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Feldges went on to dance in A&A Ballet’s Youth Company premiere season, and studied a year as a company trainee with BalletMet. She’s attended many summer intensives including Webster University, Milwaukee Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, BalletMet, and Elements Ballet.
Squires last danced with BQC in “Dumbarton Oaks” last March, before things shut down. They miss performing with live orchestra.
“That was a very special show we got to do,” Feldges said of Orchestra Iowa on stage with them. “I’m looking forward to when we can do that again.”
“Dumbarton Oaks” was commissioned by Orchestra Iowa. “It was very well-received,” Cook said.
BQC continues to offer its education outreach “Dance Me a Story” virtually, with the timely book, “Ruby Finds a Worry” – about how people of all ages can deal with the worries they’re experiencing now.
The company has a partnership with Mediacom, where their “Dance Me a Story” can be seen on TV three times a week, Cook said.
Tickets for Friday night start at $38; are $25 for the Saturday matinee, and start at $40 for Saturday night, available at http://balletquadcities.com/Buy-Tickets.