Ballet Quad Cities performs The Wild, Wild West

Dance

The Wild, Wild West

Adler Theatre

Saturday, April 1, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.

For their penultimate production in the company’s 20th-anniversary season, the professional talents of Ballet Quad Cities will grace the Adler Theatre stage on April 1 bedecked in their finest jeans, flannel shirts, and Stetsons.

And no, this is not an elaborate April Fool’s Day prank.

Instead, it’s the presentation of two of composer Aaron Copland’s most cherished ballets – 1938’s Billy the Kid and 1942’s Rodeo under the blanket title The Wild, Wild West. Choreographed, respectively, by Ballet Quad Cities Artistic Director Courtney Lyon and Ballet Mistress Margaret King, the works are not only being staged by the company for the very first time, but will let audiences witness what Lyon calls “real ballet history – a big part of how ballet was first brought to America.”

Inspired by the 1925 bestseller The Saga of Billy the Kid, the first piece on the Wild, Wild West program was originally choreographed by the young dancer Eugene Loring of New York’s School of American Ballet – what Lyon calls “kind of the prequel company to New York City Ballet. Loring was asked to choreograph something that would tap into America, giving audiences dance the way they wanted it. So he worked with Aaron Copland to create Billy the Kid – Copland wrote the score while Loring was writing the scenario – and when it was first performed, it was a smash hit. The topic is great and Copland’s music is epic and legendary, but I mean ... . It was ballet as a Western with gun fights! It just had mass appeal.”

While taking on the challenge of Loring’s and Copland’s 35-minute achievement was both exciting and daunting, Lyon says it became more so with the realization that no footage from the original ballet existed, at least not for public viewing. “I didn’t, of course, want to just re-create the original. But when a piece of music has been created specifically for a ballet scenario, every note in that score matters. So if I was going to choreograph this, I had to teach myself how to read a score. And mind you,” she says with a laugh, “I am no musician.”

Working alongside Tim Hankewich – the conductor whose Orchestra Iowa will accompany Ballet Quad Cities’ dancers – Lyon says, “We listened to the score basically note-by-note and he explained that Copland was a very cinematic composer. When you’re hearing his music, it’s so expansive, and there’s such strong feeling in it, that you can envision landscapes and atmosphere. He gives you sounds that sound like an open prairie. So basically, I just used the music as my guide, figuring out how to express that expansiveness through dance.”

Happily, says Lyon, “What’s really fun and great about dancers is they’re creative artists. So when putting this together, I can say things like, ’Give me a shape that’s really open,’ or ’Give me a shape that’s twisted,’ and they’ll give me something I’ve never seen before that can then be manipulated to look like they’re riding on horseback, or carrying a rifle, or things like that. You can mime things in ballet. But my goal was to stick to the Billy the Kid scenario without a tremendous amount of mime, and just evoke the feeling of the time period and all those colorful characters through the dancers’ bodies. It’s kind of like a new movement vocabulary that I haven’t used before, and it is so much fun.”

Ballet Quad Cities performs The Wild, Wild West

Ballet Quad Cities performs The Wild, Wild West

While Lyon found her primary inspiration in Copland’s music, King says she found hers in Rodeo’s original choreographer.

“Agnes de Mille actually choreographed Rodeo first and then had Aaron Copland write the music for her,” says King of the 20-minute piece. “And so it’s great that we’re doing these two ballets together, because de Mille had seen Billy the Kid in 1938 and really liked how Copland put his music together for Loring’s Western ballet, and so she commissioned Copland to do hers, as well.

“Usually, my inspiration for choreography is the music,” King continues. “And if there’s a storyline, obviously, I want to get that across for the audience. But for this, my inspiration really came through Agnes de Mille – without, of course, me exactly copying what she does. She was a child of Hollywood and a lot of her moves are like what you’d see in a Broadway musical, and cover a lot of different styles. So I just kind of re-imagined Agnes de Mille and made the ballet my own – trying to mimic what would happen at a rodeo, and how these men and women might move, through dance.

“For instance, in the first scene, ’Buckaroo Holiday,’ I wanted something like barrel racing – that thing where the guy rides the horse around barrels as fast as he can. We don’t have a horse, obviously, so I have men stationed at different points on stage, and then the champion roper races around and picks them up and kind of slings them around. It’s the idea of barrel racing. And in the last two sections, I have a lot of square dancing. But it’s ballet square dancing – taking actual square-dance steps and morphing them into ballet movement.” Although, to hear King tell it, incredibly fast ballet movement.

“That final hoedown in Rodeo is wild,” she says, referring to the legendary Copland composition that audiences will likely recall from its employment in all those “Beef – it’s what’s for dinner” commercials. “I mean, it’s just go-go-go, hootin’ and hollerin’, and it never slows down. People are gonna love that.”

And they’ll no doubt love it even more knowing that despite the Western-themed hats, shirts, pants, and boots, no one will get a spur in the eye. “No, no,” says King with a laugh. “No spurs. That might’ve been dangerous.”

Ballet Quad Cities presents April 1 performances of The Wild, Wild West at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m., and tickets are available by calling (800)745-3000 or visiting BalletQuadCities.com or AdlerTheatre.com.

Simply Three

Simply Three

Music

Simply Three

Bettendorf Performing Arts Center

Tuesday, April 11, 7 p.m.

In our recent Spring Guide edition of the Reader, I suggested that one of my articles was best enjoyed if listened to on Audible, which was obviously a joke. But now I’m writing an article on the classical/pop trio Simply Three – the Quad City Arts Visiting Artists who will perform an April 11 public concert at the Bettendorf Performing Arts Center – and this time I’m not joking: I really, really, really wish this article were available on Audible.

There are a few things I can tell you about Simply Three. The ensemble is composed of Zack Clark on cello, Nick Villalobos on double bass, and Glen McDaniel on violin. Clark and Villalobos were childhood friends who eventually received music-performance degrees from Arizona State University, and formed Simply Three in 2010 with violinist and fellow ASU graduate Olivia Lemmelin. Performing a blend of original compositions and covers of famed pop tunes, the group released its self-titled debut album in April of 2013. Simply Three has subsequently churned out no fewer than 20 additional CDs and digital downloads in the 48 month since, with violinist Alex Weill replacing Lemmelin in 2013, and McDaniel replacing Weill the following year.

With the trio described as “having what it takes” on the Boston Philharmonic’s Web site (BostonPhil.org) and the musicians’ talents deemed “passionate,” “unique,” and “awesome” by the Huffington Post, Simply Three routinely wows audiences with their exhilarating, “classically modern” renditions of Puccini, Gershwin, and numerous pop favorites. And here’s where having this article available on Audible would really come in handy, because as opposed to reading more of my blathering, you could simply enjoy Simply Three’s takes on Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” Coldplay’s “Fix You,” Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” and Janelle Monáe’s “Cold War” and “Tightrope” for yourselves.

Well, look at that – guess you can enjoy 'em for yourselves! But let's still start a petition to get these articles available on Audible. Typing is such a drag.)

Simply Three’s April 11 performance takes place at Bettendorf High School’s Bettendorf Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m., donations are encouraged, and more information is available by calling (309)793-1213 or visiting QuadCityArts.com.

What Else Is Happenin’ …?

MUSIC

Friday, March 31 – Family Groove Company. Chicago-based jam band in concert, featuring an opening set by EGi. The Redstone Room (129 Main Street, Davenport). 9:30 p.m. $13.75-17. For tickets and information, call (563)326-1333 or visit RiverMusicExperience.org.

Saturday, April 1 – 13th Annual QC Parrot Head Club's Havana Daydreamin'. Event hosted by the Quad City Parrot Head Club celebrating the life of Jimmy Buffett, featuring performances by the Bamboozlers & Jimmy & the Parrots. Davenport RiverCenter (136 East Third Street, Davenport). 6 p.m. $25, $240/table of eight. For information, visit RiverCtr.com.

Saturday, April 1 – Viking Moses. Concert with the indie-rock musicians fronted by singer/songwriter Brendon Massei, featuring opening sets by Hamish Hawk and Mountain Swallower. Rozz-Tox (2108 Third Avenue, Rock Island). 9 p.m. $12. For information, call (309)200-0978 or visit RozzTox.com.

Saturday, April 1 – Whitney. A Moeller Nights concert with the Chicago-based indie rockers, featuring an opening set by Helena Deland. The Mill (120 East Burlington Street, Iowa City). 9 p.m. $15. For tickets and information, call (319)351-9529 or visit MoellerNights.com or ICMill.org.

Saturday, April 1 – Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Concert with the Ohio-based musicians, featuring Chris Botti on jazz trumpet. University of Dubuque’s Heritage Center (2255 Bennett Street, Dubuque). 7:30 p.m. $9-50. For tickets and information, call (563)585-7469 or visit Dbq.edu/heritagecenter.

Sunday, April 2 – Anvil. Ontario-based heavy-metal musicians in concert, with opening sets by Night Demon, Graveshadow, LyinHeart, and Black Hilt. Gabe’s (330 East Washington Street, Iowa City). 6 p.m. $15-20. For tickets and information, call (319)351-9175 or visit ICGabes.com.

Sunday, April 2 – Lissie. Pop singer/songwriter and Quad Cities native in concert, featuring sets by The Deslondes, Black Velvet Band, Driftless Sisters, and Jeremy Pinnell. Codfish Hollow Barn (5013 288th Avenue, Maquoketa). 5 p.m. $20-25. For tickets and information, visit CodfishHollowBarnstormers.org.

Monday, April 3 – Journey and Asia. Chart-topping rock and pop musicians in concert. iWirelessCenter (1201 River Drive, Moline). 7 p.m. $39-99. For tickets, call (800)745-3000 or visit iWirelessCenter.com.

Tuesday, April 4 – Rocktopia Live! Musical arrangements blending Beethoven with Journey, Strauss with The Who, and more in mash-ups conducted by Randall Craig Fleischer. Adler Theatre (136 East Third Street, Davenport). 7:30 p.m. $43-102. For tickets, call (800)745-3000 or visit AdlerTheatre.com.

Tuesday, April 4 – Andrew Bird and My Brightest Diamond. Concert with musician, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Bird and the project of singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Shara Nova. Hancher Auditorium (101 East Park Road, Iowa City). 7:30 p.m. $40. For tickets and information, call (319)335-1160 or visit Hancher.Uiowa.edu.

Wednesday, April 5 – Ghostface Killah. The rap/hip-hop artist and founding member of Wu-Tang Clan in concert, featuring an opening set by AWTHNTKTS. Englert Theatre (221 East Washington Street, Iowa City). 8 p.m. $36.50. For tickets and information, call (319)688-2653 or visit Englert.org.

Thursday, April 6 – John Corabi. Acoustic concert with the Mötley Crüe and Dead Daisies singer/guitarist, featuring an opening set by Brandon Gibbs. Rascals Live (1414 15th Street, Moline). 7:50 p.m. $15-25. For tickets and information, call (309)797-9457 or visit RascalsLive.com.

Thursday, April 6 – A Tribute to John Denver. Touring celebration of the singer/songwriter performed by Chris Collins and Boulder Canyon. Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse (1828 Third Avenue, Rock Island). Noon lunch, 1 p.m. show, $44.41; 6 p.m. buffet, 7:15 p.m. show, $50.16. For tickets and information, call (309)786-7733 extension 2 or visit Circa21.com.

Friday, April 7 – 3 Years Hollow. Concert with the Quad Cities’ five-piece rock ensemble, featuring opening sets by Shallow Side, Trustfall, and Within the Grey. The Redstone Room (129 Main Street, Davenport). 7:30 p.m. $10. For tickets and information, call (563)326-1333 or visit RiverMusicExperience.org.

Friday, April 7 – DIIV. Concert with Zachary Cole Smith and his Brooklyn-based four-piece rock ensemble, featuring an opening set by Karen Meat. Englert Theatre (221 East Washington Street, Iowa City). 8 p.m. $20-25. For tickets and information, call (319)688-2653 or visit Englert.org.

Saturday, April 8 – Rufus Wainwright. Grammy-nominated vocalist, composer, and songwriter in concert, featuring an opening set by Laura Gibson. Englert Theatre (221 East Washington Street, Iowa City). 8 p.m. $39.50. For tickets and information, call (319)688-2653 or visit Englert.org.

Saturday, April 8 – The Eli Young Band. Chart-topping, Grammy-nominated country musicians in concert. Riverside Casino Event Center (3184 Highway 22, Riverside). 8 p.m. $25-50. For tickets and information, call (877)677-3456 or visit RiversideCasinoAndResort.com.

Saturday, April 8, and Sunday, April 8 – Quad City Symphony Orcehestra. Mark Russell Smith conducts and Jon Hurty directs the symphony, six vocal soloists, two organs, and members of the Handel Oratorio Society and Quad City Choral Arts on Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, BMV 244. Saturday: Adler Theatre (136 East Third Street, Davenport), 8 p.m. Sunday: Augustana College’s Centennial Hall (3703 Seventh Avenue, Rock Island), 2 p.m. $6-62. For tickets and information, call (563)322-7276 or visit QCSO.org.

Sunday, April 9 – Kishi Bashi. Concert with singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter Kaoru Ishibashi, featuring an opening set by J.E. Sunde. Englert Theatre (221 East Washington Street, Iowa City). 7 p.m. $20-22. For tickets and information, call (319)688-2653 or visit Englert.org.

Monday, April 10 – Golden State: Lone Star Revue. Blues concert featuring Mark Hummel, R.W. Grigsby, Anson Funderburgh, Mike Keller, and Wes Starr, co-presented by the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. Rock Island Brewing Company (1815 Second Avenue, Rock Island). 6:30 p.m. $20-25. For information, call (563)322-5837 or visit MVBS.org or RIBCO.com.

Tuesday, April 11 – 2017 Worship Night in America. An evening of praise and music with headliner Chris Tomlin and sets by contemporary-Christian musicians Big Daddy Weave, Phil Wickham, Zach Williams, Mosaic MSC, and Jason Barton. iWirelessCenter (1201 River Drive, Moline). 7 p.m. $15-69.75. For tickets, call (800)745-3000 or visit iWirelessCenter.com.

Tuesday, April 11 – Carine Tinney. A concert in the WVIK/QCSO Signature Series with soprano Tinney and pianist Benjamin Loebb, featuring a repertoire including Brahms, Schubert, and Strauss. Augustana College’s Centennial Hall (3703 Seventh Avenue, Rock Island). 7:30 p.m. $10-25. For tickets and information, call (563)322-7276 or visit QCSO.org.

Wednesday, April 12 – Eric Church. Concert with the chart-topping country-music singer/songwriter on his Holdin’ My Own Tour. iWirelessCenter (1201 River Drive, Moline). 8 p.m. $25-89. For tickets, call (800)745-3000 or visit iWirelessCenter.com.

Wednesday, April 12 – The Hunts. Indie-folk musicians in a presentation in the 2016-2017 Live at Heritage Center Performing Arts Series. University of Dubuque’s Heritage Center (2255 Bennett Street, Dubuque). 7:30 p.m. $8-30. For tickets and information, call (563)585-7469 or visit Dbq.edu/heritagecenter.

THEATRE

Thursday, March 30, through Saturday, April 1 – The Realistic Joneses. Will Eno’s dramatic comedy of suburban neighbors, directed by Rachael Pribulsky. St. Ambrose University’s Galvin Fine Arts Center Studio Theatre (2101 Gaines Street, Davenport). Thursday and Friday 7:30 p.m., Saturday 3 p.m. $6. For tickets and information, call (563)333-6251 or visit SAU.edu/theatre.

Thursday, March 30, through Sunday, April 2 – Little Shop of Horrors. Quad City Music Guild presents the Tony-nominated musical comedy based on 1960’s cult horror film, directed by Matt Holmes. Prospect Park Auditorium (1584 34th Avenue, Moline). Thursday through Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. $11-16. For tickets and information, call (309)762-6610 or visit QCMusicGuild.com.

Thursday, March 30, through Sunday, April 9 – Underneath the Lintel. Glen Berger’s one-man mystery starring Patrick O’Brien. Old Creamery Theatre (39 38th Avenue, Amana). Friday and Saturday 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday 2 p.m. $19.50-31. For tickets and information, call (319)622-6262 or visit OldCreamery.com.

Sunday, April 2 – Annie. Tony-winning musical comedy based on the comic-strip classic, in a Broadway at the Adler presentation. Adler Theatre (136 East Third Street, Davenport). 3 p.m. $40.50-68. For tickets, call (800)745-3000 or visit AdlerTheatre.com.

Friday, April 7, through Sunday, April 9 – Heathers: The Musical. Stage adaptation of the 1989 cult comedy about murderous high-schoolers, directed by Dino and Tina Hayz. The Center for Living Arts (2008 Fourth Avenue, Rock Island). Friday and Saturday 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m. $12.50. For information and tickets, call (563)940-1956 or visit CenterForLivingArts.org.

Saturday, April 8 – Sister’s Easter Catechism. Holiday-themed one-woman comedy and sequel to Late Nite Catechism. University of Dubuque’s Heritage Center (2255 Bennett Street, Dubuque). 7:30 p.m. $10. For tickets and information, call (563)585-7469 or visit Dbq.edu/heritagecenter.

COMEDY

Sunday, April 2 – Kyle Dunnigan. An evening of stand-up with the Reno 911! star, featuring an opening set by John Busch. The Mill (120 East Burlington Street, Iowa City). 8 p.m. $12-15. For tickets and information, call (319)351-9529 or visit MoellerNights.com or ICMill.org.

Thursday, April 6 – Margaret Cho. An evening with the Grammy-winning comedian and author. Englert Theatre (221 East Washington Street, Iowa City). 7:30 p.m. $39.50. For tickets and information, call (319)688-2653 or visit Englert.org.

Friday, April 7 – Kathleen Madigan. The comedian performs in her national stand-up tour. Orpheum Theatre (57 South Kellogg Street, Galesburg). 7:30 p.m. $27. For tickets and information, call (309)342-2299 or visit GalesburgOrpheum.org.

Saturday, April 8 – Pimprov. Sketch comedy, stand-up, and improvisation with Chicago’s touring comedians. Circa ’21 Speakeasy (1818 Third Avenue, Rock Island). 8 p.m. $12-15. For tickets and information, call (309)786-7733 extension 2 or visit TheCirca21Speakeasy.com.

Saturday, April 8 – Michelle Wolf. An evening of stand-up with the contributor to The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, featuring an opening set by Janelle James. The Mill (120 East Burlington Street, Iowa City). 8 p.m. $15-20. For tickets and information, call (319)351-9529 or visit ICMill.org.

LITERATURE

Tuesday, April 4 – Monday, April 17 – Allison Seay. An event in the “River Reading” series featuring the poet published in the periodicals Crazyhorse, Southern Review, and Pleiades. Augustana College's Wallenberg Hall (3520 Seventh Avenue, Rock Island). 7 p.m. Free. For information, call (309)794-7384 or visit Augustana.edu/arts.

Monday, April 10 – Rita Dove. The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet reads from her works. Knox College’s Seymour Library (2 East South Street, Galesburg). 4 p.m. Free. For information, call (309)341-7337 or visit Knox.edu.

MOVIE

Tuesday, April 11 – Bhutan: The Cloud Kingdom. Screenings in the museum’s World Adventure Series presented by Tom Sterling. Putnam Museum & Science Center (1717 West 12th Street, Davenport). 1 and 6 p.m. $7-8.50. For tickets and information, call (563)324-1933 or visit Putnam.org.

EXHIBITS

Friday, March 31, through Friday, May 5 – High School Art Invitational. Fortieth-annual exhibit of works by student artists. Quad City Arts Center (1715 Second Avenue, Rock Island). Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. For information, call (309)793-1213 or visit QuadCityArts.com.

Friday, March 31, through Friday, April 21 – Embracing Hard & Soft Edges. Exhibit of works in numerous media by regional artists Holly Kimball, Kristin Quinn, Megan Quinn, Olivia von Gries, and Emma Farber. Beréskin Fine Art Gallery & Studio (225 East Second Street, Suites 102 and 104, Davenport). Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. For information, call (563)508-4630 or visit BereskinArtGallery.com.

Saturday, April 1, through Sunday, April 9 – Young Artists at the Figge: Bettendorf Schools. Exhibition of works by student artists. Figge Art Museum (225 West Second Street, Davenport). Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m. Free with $4-7 admission. For information, call (563)326-7804 or visit FiggeArtMuseum.org.