As part of the Alabama Symphony's Sounds for Summer series, both shows bring contemporary musical entertainment to the ornately gilded, classy venue. The Act of Congress and Three on a String show tickles tiny earhammers with modern bluegrass and genre-spanning hits. Or hear Country's Hit Makers: Behind the Hits, which packs a 15-song set with recent country billboard toppers such as "Cowboy Casanova" and "American Honey." Both shows are conducted by Christopher Confessore, the ASO's principal pops conductor.
Dance—the marriage of melody, mirth, and floorboard massaging—is majestically personified by Alabama Ballet’s dexterous cabal of dancers. Watch them harness heels and tame toes during a gripping rendition of a classic Halloween tale on two available dates. The production features pulchritudinous pirouettes and immaculately produced choreography by Roger Van Fleteren and Wes Chapman and the haunting live organ music of Thomas Helms. Dracula showcases a flurry of deft rollicking and memorable movements that helped put the Alabama Ballet on the footmap—and become one of only six ballet companies in the world to be permitted by the Balanchine Trust to perform Balanchine’s Nutcracker. Marvel at the graceful ballerinas and ballerinos before tossing a flurry of tutus on stage after a beautifully executed grand jeté, soutenu en tormant, or electric slide with today’s spookily refined Groupon.
Whether training to become professional dancers or exploring ballet as a hobby, students at Huntsville Ballet School hone their craft under the guidance of seasoned dance experts. Artistic director Phillip Otto taught master classes in ballet at Yale and Vassar College, and school director Rachel Butler danced and taught across the world in places like China, Australia, and Turkey. The school operates in tandem with the Huntsville Ballet, giving dancers an opportunity to audition for performances alongside the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra. Former students have gone on to study at prestigious dance schools across the nation, while others have become mirror models for bedroom danceoffs.
Nearly a century ago, the Hippodrome opened as a combination movie palace and vaudeville theater, spending more than 70 years hosting big names such as Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. Following a double-decade period of slow business and bad hairstyles, the Hippodrome closed down in 1990. Now, however, after an exhaustive restoration project that reanimated the theater’s chandelier-lit arches, the mural above the proscenium stage, and the grand-theater boxes that hearken back to opera’s heyday, the Hippodrome reopens to the delight of Baltimore’s cultural landscape.