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As you can probably surmise from its name, Boulder’s Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet doesn’t dabble in the conventional. Choreographer Robert Sher-Machherndl eschews traditional storytelling (such as the will-they, won’t-they romance in Swan Lake) for avant-garde movements designed to wring emotions from the audience—a smart approach when your goal is advocacy.
In October 2015, Lemon Sponge Cake performed a ballet commissioned by the Denver Public Arts Program called White Mirror at Babi Yar Park to call attention to the atrocity the park commemorates. (In 1941, Nazis murdered 33,771 Jews in a ravine named Babi Yar in Ukraine.) This year, on September 17 as part of Boulder’s Public Art Project, the company addresses the issue of gun violence by debuting another site-specific ballet: White Fields at Holiday Park in Boulder. Using only two dancers (Sher-Machherndl and Bailey Harper, pictured), a pianist, and an actor, the show’s simplicity and tranquility are designed to inspire people to respond to shootings with peaceful discourse rather than angry rhetoric, says Sher-Machherndl. We’ll see if his theory pans out immediately following the show, when a panel featuring the performers will lead a discussion with the audience about gun violence.