BALLET WEST ANNOUNCES 20/21 SEASON
Salt Lake City, UT— Today, Artistic Director Adam Sklute announced exciting and ambitious programming for Ballet West’s 56th season. For the first time in decades, the Company will add a sixth program to its 2020-2021 production schedule, which will run from October 23 to May 8 at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and Rose Wagner Theater.
Just in time for Halloween, Ben Stevenson’s family-friendly Dracula (October 23-31) opens the season in extravagant flair. Ballet West last performed this epic ballet nearly 10 years ago to standing ovations for the production’s stunning sets, exploding chandeliers, and sweeping choreography. The Los Angeles Times called Dracula, “a spectacle of an order ballet audiences seldom see today… exquisitely beautiful and atmospheric.” Stevenson is a master storyteller, and in this production, he turns Bram Stoker’s iconic tale into a sensory thrill ride.
Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs (November 6-14), will headline a triple bill that showcases three modern masterworks. The program begins with Ballet West’s resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte’s Almost Tango, a ballet that highlights his unique take on the passionate style of the Argentinean dance of the same name. Like Fonte’s Carmina Burana, Rite of Spring, and Fox on the Doorstep, Almost Tango speaks to the soul with both joy and heartache. Almost Tango is followed by Return to a Strange Land, choreographed by Jiří Kylián in 1975 as an elegy to his mentor, the late John Cranko. The ballet, an exploration of Kylián’s own grief, features a stage strewn with Autumn leaves as dancers move seamlessly through powerful architectural movements, accompanied by a haunting solo piano composition by Leoš Janáček. Finally, Tharp’s 1982 Nine Sinatra Songs, is considered a classic of late 20th century choreography, featuring costumes designed by Oscar de la Renta, seven glamorous couples dance to the cashmere voice of Frank Sinatra, as Tharp finds sensuality, wry comedy, and ultimately profundity in “Old Blue Eye’s” music.
The Nutcracker returns December 11-26. More than three quarters of a century after Ballet West’s founder Willam Christensen choreographed it, America’s first Nutcracker looks as fresh and relevant as it did the day it opened. Today, it is as emblematic of the holidays as Christmas trees or menorahs. Artistic Director Adam Sklute has been recognized recently in The New York Times and on NPR for his updates to the Chinese variation, by working with the Christensen family to interpolate Mr. C’s brother Lew’s divertissement and adjusting the make-up to create a greater celebration of Chinese culture.
After a long hiatus, Michael Smuin’s Romeo and Juliet (February 12-20) returns to Ballet West. Smuin was an early student of Willam Christensen and became distinguished in his own right – first as a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and the San Francisco Ballet, later as co-artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet alongside Lew Christensen, and finally as founder of his eponymous ballet company. Smuin’s dynamic Romeo and Juliet is an energetic version of Shakespeare’s epic and beloved story. Intensely human, it is conveyed through emotive choreography and Sergei Prokofiev’s dramatic score.
Three Utah premieres from American icons headline April’s triple bill. The program opens with Glass Pieces, Jerome Robbins’ pioneering masterpiece set to music by Philip Glass. The work first debuted in 1983 and was considered an instant classic that captures the pulsating heartbeat of metropolitan life. The program continues with Belles-Lettres, an ardent and romantic ballet from current worldwide phenomenon Justin Peck, who at just 32 years old, is New York City Ballet’s resident choreographer, a winner of the Tony Award, and tapped by Steven Spielberg to choreograph the film adaptation of West Side Story. Finally, the headliner of this program, Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, is an upbeat celebration of the character of the American West underlined by Aaron Copland’s famous score, (audiences may especially recognize the Hoe-Down section). After de Mille received 22 curtain calls on the ballet’s opening night in 1942, Rodgers and Hammerstein approached her to choreograph their upcoming production of Oklahoma!. In the 78 years since its premiere, Rodeo has been established as one of the very first American ballets based on American themes and is considered one of the world’s great ballets.
In addition to the mainstage season, Ballet West will celebrate 10 years of the Family Classics Series with the staging of The Little Mermaid. This one-hour family-friendly ballet will be performed by Ballet West II and students of the Ballet West Academy. The Family Classics Series includes guided narration to help viewers follow the action on stage. Conceived by Artistic Director Adam Sklute and choreographed by Principal Ballet Master Pamela Robinson Harris and Peggy Dolkas, former Associate Director of Ballet West II, audiences are welcomed into a watery world that follows Hans Christian Andersen’s story of a brave mermaid in search of true love.
“Our dancers are great athletes, artists, and storytellers, and the 20/21 season will highlight and underline their talents,” said Artistic Director Adam Sklute. “This is a season of enormous productions, and small, earthly stories. Only a company with extreme versatility and boundless talent and energy could present these works in one season. Proving, as I often say, that Ballet West is as dynamic and expansive as the Rocky Mountain region we proudly represent.”
Single tickets do not go on sale until September, so patrons are encouraged to subscribe now or renew their season subscriptions early to get bests seats available. Four-show Essential Package begin at just $84. Contact Ballet West at 801-869-6920 or visit www.balletwest.org.
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Joshua Jones | Director of Communications firstname.lastname@example.org | 801-414-4101