BALLET WEST UPDATES 20/21 SEASON
Ballet West is committed to moving forward with the Company’s 57th season in the most safe and strategic way possible for our dancers, staff, and audiences. Though the season will look different from that which was announced in February, the Company is eager to return to the stage. Working with guidelines established by the State of Utah and Salt Lake County, Ballet West will return for its 20/21 season with a robust repertory with precautions to protect the health of our patrons.
Regarding the reworked season, Artistic Director Adam Sklute said, “When I announced this season in January, I said it would be one of the most exciting and ambitious to date for Ballet West. That statement is even more true today and I am inspired by the resilience and commitment of our staff, dancers, and patrons who passionately want to return to live performances.”
Originally, Ben Stevenson’s Dracula was scheduled to open the season. However, due to anticipated social distancing protocol, the production is being postponed until next season. Patron Services will contact current season subscribers with the option to donate, refund, or exchange their Dracula tickets for a gift certificate.
The Company has added two performance to the triple bill season opener, headlined by Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs (November 6-14) . The program opens with a world premiere by Jennifer Archibald, Resident Choreographer of Cincinnati Ballet. A graduate of The Alvin Ailey School, her work is known for its fierce and athletic movement, as audiences witnessed when she presented her world premiere work, Myoho at Ballet West’s Choreographic Festival in 2018. Archibald’s new creation is followed by 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. Finally, Tharp’s 1982 Nine Sinatra Songs returns to Ballet West’s stage for the first time since 2008 when the company premiered it as part of Sklute’s first full season. Considered a classic of late 20th century choreography, Tharp combines her unique blend of classical ballet, modern dance, and ballroom to invoke an elegant and playful look at relationships. Featuring costumes designed by Oscar de la Renta, seven glamorous couples dance to the cashmere voice of Frank Sinatra, as Tharp finds the sensuality, humor, and profundity in “Old Blue Eye’s” music.
The Company has added several performances to the The Nutcracker production to allow for greater social distancing (December 4-26). 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. Deeply human, it is conveyed through emotive choreography and Sergei Prokofiev’s dramatic score.
Another adjustment to the season will be the delay in presenting Jerome Robbin’s Glass Pieces, Justin Peck’s Belles-Lettres, and Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo. The Company has elected to proceed with–what was supposed to be the final program of 56th season–Bolero and The Dream (April 9-17). Buoyant and boisterous, this double bill features Sir Frederick Ashton’s charming and hilarious retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as Resident Choreographer Nicolo Fonte’s acclaimed Bolero, with Ravel’s pulsating score leading the charge.
In addition to the mainstage season, Ballet West will celebrate 10 years of the Family Classics Series with the staging of The Little Mermaid (April 23-24). 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.
“The arts tell our story. They allow us to feel human and connect us to one another,” said Sklute. “I believe our community needs to come together more than ever. The arts allow us to process suffering and heartache, as well as hope and redemption. This season is filled with stories that will inspire us, make us laugh, make us cry, and encapsulate the emotions of humanity allowing some solace and even levity for our audiences. I look forward to coming back together again in a safe and healthy way to share the human experience.”
Due to physically distanced seating, many performances are nearly sold out. Stay informed by signing up for the Ballet West email list at www.balletwest.org. Single tickets do not go on sale until September, so patrons are encouraged to subscribe or renew their season subscriptions now. Three-ballet packages begin at just $63. Contact Ballet West at 801-869-6920 or visit www.balletwest.org.