Among my arts picks for the week, “Cinderella” gets an international touch, April Fool’s Day gets the choral treatment and a noted Native American visual artist gets to strut his stuff at Fresno State. Read on for ways to crowd your calendar.
If the slipper fits
The event: Santa Barbara’s State Street Ballet travels to Fresno for its annual co-production with Fresno Ballet Theatre. This year’s offering, “Cinderella,” features music by Prokofiev and original choreography by Rodney Gustafson.
The draw: This is no dark and dramatic account of the famed fairy tale, says Gustafson, the executive-artistic director of State Street Ballet. “It’s something that’s so iconic and well-known, but we’re doing it with a lot of humor on behalf of the step-sisters and all the levels of emotion that theatrically make it special,” he says. The professional dancers in the production hail from six countries, including Deise Mendonça (Cinderella), a native of Brazil, a former principal dancer with the Bolshoi Company in Brazil and Ballet de Santiago in Chile, and a 2014 finalist on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance”; and Yassaui Mergaliyev (the Prince), from Kazakhstan, a former principal dancer with Ukraine National Opera in Kiev and the Croatian National Ballet.
The formula: Fresno Ballet Theatre, sponsored by the Valley Performing Arts Council, has a longstanding relationship with State Street Ballet. The experience gives student dancers the opportunity to perform alongside 20 professionals in this production.
The event: Fresno Choral Artists presents “What Fools These Mortals Be! Songs of Foolishness and Frivolity.” And that’s no prank.
The draw: The program features both serious songs (including Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Whether Men Do Laugh or Weep”) and not-so-serious songs (such as “The Queen to Me a Royal Pain Doth Give”) in honor of April Fool’s Day. The ensemble is conducted by Greg A. Lapp.
Details: There are two concerts. The ensemble performs 4 p.m. Saturday at Forum Hall, Reedley College, 995 N. Reed Ave., Reedley (admission is free); and 4 p.m. Sunday at Cal Arts Academy, 4750 N. Blackstone Ave., Fresno ($15, $5 students). www.fresnochoralartists.org.
The event: Fresno Pacific University theater program is in its final weekend of “Defying Gravity,” a play inspired by the saga of the space shuttle Challenger.
The draw: Jane Anderson’s comedy-drama’s weaves together the past and present with a group of characters that includes the teacher selected to be the first civilian astronaut, her grieving daughter, a NASA mechanic and painter Claude Monet. Julia Reimer directs.
The event: Cannupa Hanska Luger, a visiting artist brought to Fresno State by the Center for Creativity and the Arts and the art and design department will give a lecture about the sculpture he’s creating for the university.
The draw: Luger is a contemporary multimedia sculptor who “deconstructs world perceptions about Native identity in his works.” His sculpture, titled “Pillar,” which will be dedicated April 7, consists of life-sized slip casts of Buffalo head forms, “which will be glazed or rendered in various colors representing minerals and other resource materials extracted from sacred lands throughout the U.S.” You can also see an exhibition of his works titled “Old Dominion” at M Street Graduate Studios.
The event: The touring choral group “Men in Blaque” performs at First Congregational Church.
The draw: There’s no Will Smith connection. Instead, this renowned all-male ensemble presents choral works from the fifth to 20th centuries using the original voicing. The group was a big winner at the World Choir Games of 2010 in Shaoxing, China.
Details: 4:01 p.m. (another April Fool’s connection – who says classical musical is stodgy?) Saturday, First Congregational Church, 2131 N. Van Ness Ave. 559-227-8489. Free.