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Electronic sci-fi meets ballet in a collaborative project between local band Conquer Monster and the Salt Lake City-based performance company Municipal Ballet Co. Created by classically trained ballet dancer Sarah Longoria, Municipal Ballet defies expectations by presenting audiences with performances that break the classical mold.
"Creating Municipal Ballet Co. was my thesis project," Longoria said in an email interview with The Tribune. "I've been doing ballet since I was very young. I stopped dancing for a few years after graduating and then returned to the U. with some new ideas about ballet."
Her ideas spoke to what Longoria refers to as "rules" and "myths" within and surrounding the culture of classical ballet.
"When you grow up doing ballet, there are these unspoken rules that you kind of absorb: that dancers have to be tall, thin, extremely flexible with very arched feet, that you have to be accepted into the professional world of ballet by an authority figure, that you have to perform ballet in a theater, to classical music, to an audience who is there to be 'cultured,'" Longoria said.
Her resistance to these perceptions sparked Municipal Ballet, which allows dancers to perform choreographed pieces in venues that lend themselves to targeting new audiences and confronting stereotypes about ballet.
"The bone structure of the dancers has absolutely no relation to how an audience member feels when they leave the theater," Longoria said. "People can enjoy watching a ballet a lot more if they have a beverage in their hand in a venue where they feel comfortable."
Municipal Ballet's latest project, "Metatransit," is double-billed at Urban Lounge on Friday and Saturday. "Metatransit" features eight women performing choreographed dance pieces based on Black Omen's locally written comic book, "Purge World." The ballet is set to and named after the musical backdrop of "Metatransit," an album written and recorded for the comic book by Conquer Monster, a duo that uses analog equipment to create sci-fi electronic sounds.
Conquer Monster's Joshua Faulkner and Daniel Romero said that after learning about Longoria's collaboration with local band Color Animal, they felt that using their music as a backdrop to one of her ballets was the perfect next step for their project.
"I divulged to [Longoria] the storyline of 'Metatransit' and explained the many phases and moods of the album," Romero said of the band's initial contact with her last summer.
Longoria followed up in December.
"I really started to like the idea of turning [the album] into a ballet," she said. "There are six different choreographers who created the pieces. The pieces sure are cool. The music really lends itself to a lot of energy in the movement."
"Metatransit" features costumes by locally owned and operated State of Bodhi, a boutique that sells eco-friendly costumes co-founded by Ballet West principal dancer Emily Adams.
"Their clothing line has a lot of clean lines and interesting cuts that look kind of futuristic to me and they're very danceable," Longoria said.
Romero and Faulkner said that in addition to the ballet performance, the event at Urban Lounge will feature the second of four installments of "Purge Worlds" titled "Intent."
"In this issue we learn more about why the main character doesn't want to be an assassin anymore and just how diabolical the opposing forces in the comic can be," Faulkner said.
Conquer Monster said their collaboration with Black Omen Comics and Municipal Ballet has given them an opportunity to bring more dimension to their music.
"Our collaboration with Black Omen Comics gave us something tangible to present to our listeners to explain a universe that we could only describe abstractly with our music alone," Faulkner said. "This collaboration with Municipal gives us a happy medium where we have something visual to give the audience additional clues as to what the story is about, but it doesn't take away from the element of interpretation that more abstract forms of expression allow for."
Longoria hopes audience members will allow themselves to become immersed in the "Metatransit" performance.
"The thing I'd like for all of our audiences to get out of watching our shows is the feeling that they're glad to be human," she said.
Featuring Municipal Ballet Co. and Conquer Monster, based on Black Omen's "Purge World" comic book, with costumes by State of Bodhi.
When • Friday and Saturday, April 7-8, 7 p.m., doors at 6 p.m.
Where • The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $10; Ticketfly
More on the performers
Municipal Ballet • http://www.municipalballet.com
Conquer Monster • http://www.conquermonster.com
State of Bodhi • http://www.stateofbodhi.com