From body image to ‘Bella Luna’

The Twin Cities ballerinas who recently started a conversation about eating disorders will perform their first contemporary show as an “artist-led” company.

As one of the dancers put it, “Bella Luna” is a love story between a middle-class girl and a boy who lives in a trash can. The St. Paul City Ballet is staging the featured work Thursday through Saturday at the JSB Tek Box in The Cowles Center in Minneapolis. The show also includes three works by emerging female choreographers Brittany Adams, artistic director Zoé Emilie Henrot, and Julie Marie Muskat.

Being artist-led means the dancers are in charge of running the organization, handling everything from the bookkeeping to the selection of shows. The unusual model is what gave the company members the freedom a couple of months ago to launch “Take Back the Tutu,” a public-awareness campaign about body image and eating disorders. 

The dancers stepped into administrative roles last fall after the organization’s board considered doing away with the company for financial reasons and focusing only on the dance school.

“The dancers were not OK with that and came back with a business plan and said, ‘We can do this all ourselves,'” Adams said.

If you enjoyed hearing their frank talk about the off-stage pressures to stay thin in my story from February, you have five chances this week to see this group perform. More details can be found on the ballet company’s website.