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Anything Goes 

The New Works Festival celebrates dance as living art.

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The minds of the choreographers who will direct the Richmond Ballet's New Works Festival are crammed with intricate and precise details — a pirouette here, a move to adagio there. But their objective is simple: to keep it fresh.

“The music has changed, the style. … anything goes, really,” Julie Job Smithson says. “I just want [the dancers] to be exquisite and exuberant and that's all I hope for in the end.”

Smithson and fellow faculty member James Frazier have created new works for the second annual festival, to open Sept. 29. The evening of dance also will include pieces by visiting choreographers Ma Cong and Jacqulyn Buglisi, and promises to reveal much about the always-evolving, sometimes instantaneous art of choreography.

“It's living in the moment,” says Buglisi, the chair of the modern dance department at New York's Alvin Ailey School. “Dance is a living art. It continues to continue. … like an amaranth, it just lives and dies and continues. … as long as there is the human being, it continues to be alive because it lives in the instant.”

The performances on display won't always comply with the strict ballet of yesteryear, Smithson says: “Dance is changing to be more appealing to a younger and wider audience to keep it alive.” To that end, the New Works Festival seeks to help familiarize the audience with a more contemporary and cosmopolitan view of movement and grace.

“Certainly in America you have so many different cultural influences and people are not only interested in investigating the Western European classics, but also.  … in digging into the classical traditional music of various cultures,” Frazier says. “Because we are all fused beings, we have ownership and investment in all of these cultures and expressions, some to a greater degree than others. I feel it's more unusual for anything to claim to be pure in its form.”

The Richmond Ballet's New Works Festival runs at the Richmond Ballet Studio 1 from Sept. 29 to Oct. 4. Tickets are $30. For information, call 344-0906, ext. 224, or visit www.richmondballet.com.

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