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Weekender: Ballet, Russian Orchestra And Dia De Los Muertos

Watch "Hansel and Gretel" interpreted for ballet. Celebrate Dia De Los Muertos with music and altars. And watch a Russian chamber orchestra at San Fernando Cathedral.

First stop: the Buena Vista Theater on the UTSA campus. The San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet's Susan Biel Connally described the company:

"They are auditioned, anyone from age 9 through about age 25. The older dancers, including some artists in residence, are professional dancers," she said.

Their music for "Hansel and Gretel" comes from Englebert Humperdinck, the German composer from the latter 1800s.

"And Humperdinck wrote 'King's Children's Suite.' He wrote 'Bluebird.' and he wrote 'Sleeping Beauty,' ” she said. “And I took all of that music and incorporated it into this ballet."

The familiar "Grimms’ Fairy Tale" storyline follows Hansel and Gretel selling brooms in their village.

"And this is where you encounter the old woman who we later see in the second act as the witch with her broom," Biel said.

Given that this is ballet though, the story isn't told through words.

"And so we're doing everything through our movements and through our gestures," she said.

IF YOU GO WHAT: "Hansel and Gretel" WHERE: Buena Vista Theater, UTSA downtown WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday COST: $13-$29

Also on Saturday and Sunday, a famous Dia De Los Muertos event is back.

"We are the event that's been going on for the last seven years at La Villita,” Artistic Director Jim Mendiola said. “We have gotten bigger, and more interesting, I think, so we've moved across the street, and we're now at Hemisfair."

Mendiola said word has spread about this particular Dia De Los Muertos event.

Credit Francisco Cortes

“Recently we were named by National Geographic as one of the best fall festivals in the United States," he said.

Dia De Los Muertos celebrates the lives of those who have passed on. Many people build altars to honor them.

"These are stories from people who are celebrating their parents, their grandparents. And we have 50 of these altars," Mendiola said.

Many find the altars are very touching, even if they don't know the person honored.

"There's happiness, there's sadness, but it's ultimately a celebration of these lives," he said.

Dozens of vendors will sell art, and music bands will play on three stages.

"It's a really interesting mix of alternative Latino bands, with traditional Mexican music, with bands like Santa Cecilia, which is this Grammy Award winning band from Los Angeles that's going to be here," he said.


IF YOU GO WHAT: Dia De Los Muertos WHERE: Hemisfair WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday, noon Sunday COST: Free

Musical Bridges' Suhail Erastu said the music continues on Sunday, but in a different vein.

“We're kicking off our 22nd season this Sunday, October 27th, at 7 p.m. with a free concert, open to all, starring the Russian String Orchestra, joined by Nina Kotova,” he said.

He noted that Kotova is a very accomplished young cellist.

"And she's an all-star, called by the New York Times a force to be reckoned with,” Erastu said. “She's performed at Red Square, at the imperial family residence in Japan, as well as Buckingham Palace, Carnegie Hall, so it's going to be a real treat."

Musical Bridges CEO Anya Grokhovski says the Russian String Orchestra’s talent will dazzle you.

"That really is an amazing orchestra because not only do they play classical music well, they play pretty much all kinds of music," she said.

The Russian String Orchestra is a chamber orchestra.

"Chamber orchestras normally range between 14 and 21 players,” Grokhovski said. “Chamber orchestras were court orchestras back in Haydn and Mozart and Beethoven's time. So there's a lot of fabulous repertoire for chamber orchestra."

The concert setting is wonderful, too -- at San Fernando Cathedral -- and Erastu gives music lovers another incentive to come.

"And the concert is followed by a free dessert reception," he said.

IF YOU GO WHAT: Musical Bridges Around the World concert WHERE: San Fernando Cathedral WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday COST: Free

Jack Morgan can be reached at Jack@TPR.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii