Ballet Across America Returns to Kennedy Center in June
By Jeremy D. Birch
Following a successful debut in 2008, Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America returns to the Opera House June 15–20. The exploration of the art form will offer three mixed repertory programs.
Houston Ballet brings Artistic Director Stanton Welch’s Falling, a classical, playful piece for five couples set to Mozart’s Salzburg Symphonies. The San Francisco Chronicle calls it “a delight in shades of pastel, with good ideas and excellent dancing delivered in a joyful, Mozartian spirit.”
The Kennedy Center’s own The Suzanne Farrell Ballet dances George Balanchine’s abstract Monumentum Pro Gesualdo and the neoclassical Movements for Piano and Orchestra. Set to music by Stravinsky, the pairing suggests “the connections and the distinctions between the more classical and more modern looks of Balanchine’s ballets…with music to match” (The New York Times).
Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet, led by Artistic Director Peter Boal, stages Benjamin Millepied’s 3 Movements. Set to Steve Reich’s minimalist score, it is designed in shades of gray and “danced with a whipped-up fierceness; its 16 dancers seemingly lit by cool fire” (The Seattle Times). On one hand it’s tricky and technically challenging, and on the other it brims with insouciance.
Led by Artistic Director Tom Mossbrucker, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet brings Jorma Elo’s Red Sweet, an ASFB commission set to music by Vivaldi and Biber that “plays to the company’s strength as a modern ballet ensemble: arabesques that paw at the floor, fast spins, and caught leaps weaving through the angular abstraction” (The Oregonian).
Chicago’s The Joffrey Ballet performs Age of Innocence, a nostalgic work by former NYCB soloist and rising star Edwaard Liang that investigates the sensations and emotions roused by an empty ballroom. Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, it features 16 dancers (8 couples) dancing to the music of Philip Glass and Thomas Newman.
Four companies are making their Washington debuts, including North Carolina Dance Theatre, which is bringing Artistic Director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s Shindig, a rollicking ballet with live music by the Greasy Beans that the New York Times calls “a lively mix of toe shoes and bluegrass to set the audience cheering.”
Formed in 1986, Ballet Arizona under the leadership of Ib Andersen has become a provocative company that creates, performs, and teaches outstanding classical and contemporary ballet. They are bringing a new Andersen work, Diversions, danced to music by Britten.
Since its founding in 1956, Tulsa Ballet has remained constant in its artistic mission: to combine the beauty and joy expressed by dance with the drama and entertainment of the theater. The company led by Artistic Director Marcello Angelini is dancing Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero, set to 15th- and 16th-century Spanish music and recorded lines from a love poem by Garcilaso de la Vega.
Led by Artistic Director Dorothy Gunther Pugh, Ballet Memphis—“something of a little engine that could” (The New York Times)—brings In Dreams. Created in 2007 by resident choreographer Trey McIntyre, it makes heartbreak look like fun when set to music by the late Roy Orbison, who recorded some of his early tunes at Sun Studio in Memphis.
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