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Leaps & Bounds

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The ground floor of the recently restored Lowenstein Building is cavernous and empty except for a row of massive columns. The late-morning light streaming through large windows casts strange shadows all around, turning the dancers of Ballet Memphis into silhouettes as they warm up prior to an open rehearsal, a week before AbunDANCE: Joyful Noise opens for a two-week run at Playhouse on the Square.

"We would have even more public rehearsals," says Ballet Memphis' founding artistic director Dorothy Gunther Pugh. "So much depends on what spaces are available. We want our work to be available to everyone."

AbunDANCE: Joyful Noise brings together a quartet of choreographers with distinctive styles and sensibilities that range from the percussive work of Robert Battle and Trey McIntyre to the whimsical classicism of Czech choreographer Petr Zahradnícek. Jane Comfort, a postmodern choreographer originally from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, has developed a piece scored by Memphis' Grammy-nominated saxophonist Kirk Whalum.

Although all of the music has been recorded, the dancers will perform with live musical accompaniment on opening night.

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