The word "ballet" often conjures up images of traditional Degas-like ballerinas in pretty pirouettes, but the Colorado Ballet will defy convention tonight when it tosses out the tutus and presents Rodeo/Rubies/A Little Love. The tippy-toed triptych will guide patrons through a post-modern plié of contemporary ballet. "We love presenting triple bills," says artistic director Martin Fredmann. "It allows audiences to experience how broad ballet can be while showcasing the versatility of our dancers." Rodeo was written by Agnes de Mille, who later choreographed a dance for Oklahoma!; it is the story of a young Texas cowgirl who tries desperately to lasso a hunky wrangler's heart with her less-than-feminine roping skills. Set to Aaron Copland's upbeat score of ranch- flavored melodies, the popular performance applauds the pioneer spirit of the Old West.
George Balanchine's Rubies, part of his hailed Jewels trio, is a seductive celebration of the color red. Its fervor is set by sexy, form- fitted costumes, a red-hot jazz score by Igor Stravinsky, and sultry dance moves that unfold organically, without a story line.
A Little Love, Fredmann's own creation, is a tribute to Nina Simone. Written before her death, Fredmann set the saucy abstract ballet to five songs inspired by what he describes as Simone's "haunting sounds of the beginnings and endings of love."
So promenade down to the Paramount Theatre, 1631 Glenarm Place, where the ballet, which runs through February 29, promises a twist on traditional fare. Tonight's performance begins at 7:30 p.m.; tickets, $20 to $74, are available at www.ticketmaster.com. For information, call 303-837-8888 or go to www.coloradoballet.org. -- Kity Ironton
Shadow Theatre revisits the Colored Minstrel Show
Jeffrey Nickelson, artistic director of Denver's Shadow Theatre Company, is something of a history buff, and he says that's partly because of what he didn't learn in school as a kid. It's also one reason he's chosen Carlyle Brown's The Little Tommy Parker Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show, opening tonight at 7:30 p.m., for the company's 2004 tip of the hat to Black History Month. "I particularly like Carlyle's work, because he's known for his historically correct writings," Nickelson says, and the play's subject is one sorely in need of historical correctness. The story of six members of a black minstrel troupe reflecting in a railcar as they're about to do a show in Hannibal, Missouri, in 1895, Little Tommy Parker explores a time and place when lynchings were common and blackface was a kind of battle gear for black performers who often risked their lives just to stand on a stage. A theater maven in modern times, Nickelson says the play helps restore minstrelsy's true place in history as an original American art form.
Little Tommy Parker continues Thursdays through Saturdays through March 6 at the Ralph Waldo Emerson Center, 1420 Ogden Street; to reserve tickets, $18.50 to $20, call 303-837-9355. -- Susan Froyd
Flatlanders Sing at E-town
You could almost say that "Americana," as American roots- and song-based acoustic music has come to be called, was born over thirty years ago in Lubbock, Texas, when Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock decided to combine their back-porch talents for a little while as The Flatlanders, putting voices and songwriting chops together in lean times before eventually splitting up to pursue solo careers. Always friends, the three have hooked up again years later, putting out a couple of new albums and going on tour. Their combined experience shows: Hear for yourself when they perform at tonight's E-town radio taping, 7 p.m. at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street in Boulder. Tickets are $13; call 303-786-7030. -- Susan Froyd
Buntport hosts campy Mission to Planet Zolbott
Blast off to a mysterious planet at the premiere of Mission to Planet Zolbott, presented by Dangerous Theatre Productions. "It's a comedic and campy romp about space travel," explains Winnie Wenglewick, who wrote and directed three of Mission to Planet Zolbott's five scenes. "In one scene, the ship is taken over by Gloria Gaynors who attempt to take over the galaxy with disco. Another scene features a lingerie-clad bounty hunter."
The play opens tonight at 8 p.m. at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street, and runs Thursday to Sunday nights through February 28. Tickets are $15, with a $3 discount for students and seniors.
"It's all very weird," says Wenglewick. "And it's definitely interactive with the audience."
Due to heavy sexual innuendo, the play is not recommended for kids under age sixteen. For information and reservations, call 720-233-4703. -- Julie Dunn