Building on last year’s success of a Nutcracker accompanied by a live symphony orchestra, Savannah Danse Theatre takes things one step further at the Lucas this Friday evening.
“Take Five” will see SDT performing a dozen dance numbers, all to the accompaniment of the popular local ensemble Equinox Jazz Orchestra.
“This is one of the most ambitious things we’ve done,” says SDT artistic director Suzanne Braddy. “We’ve danced with a symphony before, but with the jazz orchestra it will be a different experience. The orchestra will actually be onstage with us the whole time. They’re actually a part of the onstage production.”
Special guests include local jazz vocalists extraordinaire Trae Gurley and Kim Polote.
“Take Five” relies on a familiar narrative, the good old “performance within a performance” motif. “The show is about getting ready for a show,” says Braddy.
Karen Burns, who choreographed most of the pieces, explains, “The whole thing opens with the feeling of a company practicing onstage during the final moments before a performance. We sort of take our license from there. It’s all very loose. Each piece gives you a glimpse into a small story unto itself. ”
Burns says that though jazz is central the evening’s entertainment, she’s included a wide range of dance and theatrical aspects into the performance.
“Even the most balletic thing we do has comedy going in the background. There’s lots of comedy. I’m going to do a pas de deux at some point, but even that’s not classical-classical. It’s still romantic and pretty,” she says.
“Each piece has a slightly different flavor -- some are just dancing, some are just acting and some are really just pictures onstage,” Burns says.
“Basically we’re trying to go someplace other than what the audience is automatically thinking they’re going to see. It’s much more theatrical. We’ve definitely pushed the limits a little bit.”
The genesis of the idea came from a conversation Braddy had at the Lucas while working on a different production.
“Someone I was talking to who works at the Lucas knew I was interested in trying to find live music to accompany us,” she says.
That’s how Braddy came in contact with Jeremy Davis of the Equinox Jazz Orchestra, who’s also president of the local organization Friends of Johnny Mercer.
“This band is so good you could come to the show and close your eyes and have a great time,” says Karen Burns. “For this company it’s definitely new and different.”
Burns and Braddy agree that while much of the SDT season is devoted to more traditional and serious ballet works, “Take Five” will be an opportunity to stretch out and have fun.
“It’s entertainment, not necessarily fine art,” says Burns. “Hopefully there will be moments of artistry underneath. But anytime you’re asking people to come pay to see you, you get back to fact that originally dancing was all about entertainment.” ç
“Take Five” takes place this Friday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m. at the Lucas Theatre. For tickets call 525-5050.