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American Ballet Theatre's "ZigZag" celebrates the music and artwork of Tony Bennett

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ABT
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American Ballet Theatre performs celebrates the music of Tony Bennett in "ZigZag"

The World Premiere of the American Ballet Theatre Company of ZigZag celebrates the legendary career of of Tony Bennett, using both is songs and his visual artwork to highlight the authentic humanity of his vocal performances.

ZigZag, choreographed by Jessica Lang and set to 11 recorded songs sung by Tony Bennett, had it's World Premiere at the ABT's 2021 Fall Gala on Tuesday, October 26.

Prior to the Gala, one of ABT's Principal Dancers, Calvin Royal III joined WBGO's Doug Doyle to chat about the show, returning to the stage and his amazing career.

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Doug Doyle/Zoom
ABT's Calvin Royal III chats with WBGO's Doug Doyle about "ZigZag"

Royal says the music of Tony Bennett is inspiring.

"Tony Bennett is an icon. and his music is classic, it's jazzy, it's fresh, it's fun, it's funky, it has so much soul and deep meaning in a lot of the songs we're performing. There's one particular song he collaborated with Lady Gaga on called "It's De-Lovely" and when we heard the song for the first time, it has this moment to it, a jazzy pull to it that makes you want to move. It makes you want to snap your fingers and move your feet. Being able to perform to his work and his music is just truly an honor. To have been able to be a part of that creative process and collaboration of the dance and music, I think the audience is really going to love it."

Calvin Royal III
Myesha Evon
Calvin Royal III. Photo: Myesha Evon.

Royal has been with ABT for 15 plus years, joining the main Company as an apprentice in October 2010and the corps de ballet in April 2011. He was appointed a Soloist in September 2017 and Principal Dancer in September 2020.

"Before the pandemic hit, I was still a soloist with the Company and you know missing one season as a professional dancer is crucial because the longevity of our careers are much shorter than other professions, so one season without being able to perform, being able to travel and develop as artists has definitely been a challenge. But I think throughout the past year and a half, the opportunity to just explore things and use that time, I was able to work with other choreographers outside of ABT. ABT itself, during the pandemic, actually found a way to safely assemble small groups of dancers in what we call "ballet bubbles" and residences all over the New York state area where we able to come together in small groups and create new work, film them and stream them so our audiences and those who love ABT across America and around the world could tune in and see the art that we were creating."

Calvin Royal III began his formal dance training under the direction of Suzanne Pomenrantzeff and Patricia L. Paige at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, Florida.

His repertoire with ABT includes the title role in Apollo, a Cavalier in Cinderella, Dorcon in Daphnis and Chloe, Espada in Don Quixote and many others.

There are two casts of the ZigZag. Royal's cast will be performing on:

Oct 28th 7:30p

Oct 29th 7:30p

Oct 31st 2pm

For more information about all of the shows, you can visit here.

Doug Doyle has been News Director at WBGO since 1998 and has taken his department to new heights in coverage and recognition. Doug and his staff have received more than 200 awards from organizations like PRNDI, AP, New York Association of Black Journalists, Garden State Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists.