'THIRST' to premiere at Missouri Theatre

The Missouri Contemporary Ballet’s upcoming show boasts innovative contemporary choreography.

The Missouri Contemporary Ballet’s “THIRST” is not your average Nutcracker.

The production, which premieres Thursday at the Missouri Theatre, contains not a single sugarplum fairy. Instead, “THIRST” showcases MCB’s unique blend of classical ballet and modern dance.

“I think a lot of people may have a misconception,”MCB dancer Elise Eslick says of ballet shows. “We are a ballet company, so yes, we’re classically trained, and we wear pointe shoes in pieces, but it’s much more than that.”

Innovative choreography in “THIRST” only emphasizes MCB’s singular style. The production contains six works — four of which are world premieres staged especially for the company. 

MCB director Joanne Sandorfi says the range of pieces is what makes “THIRST” worth seeing. From Karen Mareck Grundy’s sharp, mechanical “1000 Details” to John-Mark Owen’s fluidly mesmerizing “minore al maggiore,” “THIRST” keeps things interesting.

“I’m really excited about this show because there’s a ton of variety in there, not only for the audience but for the dancers,” Sandorfi says.

Eslick is in all six pieces, which is a first in MCB history. The show will be a challenge for her, but she is looking forward to it.

“It’s a lot of dancing, a lot of partnering, a very high-energy show this year,” she says. “It’ll be awesome.”

With great awesomeness, however, comes great behind-the-scenes frenzy. Having only six members in the company means more dashing, more dancing and less time to breathe.

“It’s all just kind of frantic because you’re going as fast as you can while you’re sitting there trying to focus and take a breath and think about the next piece,” Eslick says of the quick changes she'll have to pull off to appear in each work.

But for the MCB dancers, sharing their art with an audience is worth the backstage chaos.

“This is our passion, this is our career and we share it with an audience," Eslick says, "And maybe it’ll touch somebody in some sort of way. It’s really important.”

Both Eslick and Sandorfi hope that low ticket prices and special offers for students (read: you) will draw a large, diverse audience.

“Some people have never seen dance like this before, and this sounds so cheesy, but that’s why we do it,” Eslick says. “Just come and expose yourself to it, and take your opinion from there.”

“THIRST” will be showing at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 and 16 at the Missouri Theatre. Tickets are available through the Missouri Theatre’s box office.

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