Cofounded in 1988 by master puppeteer Allie Scollon and her son, John, the Columbia Marionette Theatre showcases the string-pulling artistry of its puppeteers both on its home stage and at shows across South Carolina. Expressive puppets crafted for each show breathe new life into classic fairy tales and educational programs, including shows about littering, going to the dentist, and a combo show about not discarding your old teeth in the park fountain.
Headed by So You Think You Can Dance veterans Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, Complexions Contemporary Ballet has blended classical and modern dance styles from around the world into dazzling routines for more than 15 years. Armed with a repertoire of dozens of custom pieces, Complexions' dancers showcase the expressive possibilities of the human body more effectively than live tattooing competitions. Starting at 6:30 p.m., a preshow discussion with Dwight Rhoden will let audience members grill the rhythm-making maestro on his methods and inspiration. Inside the Heymann Center's sweeping modernist structure, an intimate auditorium's clear sight lines allow guests to watch each leap and bend ripple through the athletic forms onstage and opera glasses to return to their original role as trendy fashion accessory.
Many dance companies approach ballet from a modern angle. Caroline Calouche prefers a more perpendicular one. When the stage is not enough space for her visions of macabre masquerade balls or surreal dreamscapes, she takes to the air above it, outfitted with a cirque's worth of aerial harnesses and accouterments. Her dancers are just as likely to pirouette down a 20-foot skein of golden silk as across a hardwood floor. Pairs of lovers might hang precariously from the frame of a hollow cube or perform a gravity-defying pas de deux on the double lyra—their suspension above the earth either an expression of freedom or a prison of their own making. Like identifying an elderly smoker's gender over the phone, the airborne element leaves plenty of room for interpretation.
By marrying the storytelling ability of floor-bound choreography with the gravity-defying tricks of circus arts, Caroline Calouche & Co. unleashes the full potential of aerial dance. The company's productions are free to venture to strange new places. For example, in past shows, women have risen from their graves to haunt their murderous husbands. Likewise, the sounds of Moby and Blue Man Group are more likely to be heard than Debussy.
Audience members who want to plqy the ropes and silks for themselves can learn to do so during the dance company's aerial-dance classes, along with a tight curriculum of ballet, contemporary, and stretching and strengthening courses. For all its global influences and aerial showmanship, Caroline Calouche & Co. keeps its feet rooted in the local community with outreach programs for all ages, ethnicities, and social groups.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
• For $40, you get two general-admission lawn tickets (a $62 value before fees, or up to an $80 value online, including all Ticketmaster fees). • For $58, you get two tickets for seating in sections 4–9 or 10–15 (a $90 value before fees, or up to a $115 value online, including all ticketing fees).