Alison Roper, Paul DeStrooper, and Damian Drake of Oregon Ballet Theatre in Kudelka’s Almost Mozart. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert, Courtesy Kennedy Center.
In the five years since the Kennedy Center launched its Ballet Across America celebration, the focus has shifted from larger companies to those smaller in size, but large in impact. In this year’s edition, six of the nine companies have fewer than 30 dancers on their rosters.
The larger companies have chosen masterworks that take advantage of their size: Boston Ballet performs Balanchine’s modernist Symphony in Three Movements, Pennsylvania Ballet his iconic The Four Temperaments, and Sarasota Ballet Ashton’s delightful Les Patineurs. But the smaller companies’ offerings show that there is plenty of new work being made across the nation.
Along with Sarasota, new to the festival are Ballet Austin, the revamped Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Richmond Ballet, making its Kennedy Center debut. The choreography ranges from that by company directors (Stephen Mills at BA), associate directors (Sasha Janes for North Carolina Dance Theatre) and resident choreographers (Robert Garland at DTH) to dancemakers with ties to other small companies, expanding the festival’s reach further. Ma Cong, who recently retired from Tulsa Ballet to focus on choreography (see “Transitions,” p. 90), made Ershter Vals, Richmond’s offering; and Wunderland by Edwaard Liang, recently tapped to lead BalletMet Columbus, will be danced by The Washington Ballet. Oregon Ballet Theatre performs Almost Mozart by James Kudelka, who has been leading BalletMet as an artistic consultant in the interim. Having so many smaller troupes showcased is something to applaud.
Donald Byrd’s 10th season at Spectrum Dance Theater has been chock-full: a national tour of his Theater of Needless Talents, Byrd’s homage to artists who perished in the Holocaust; the premiere of A Meeting Place last winter; and a DanceMotion USA goodwill trip to Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. This month, the Seattle-based company reprises A Cruel New World/the new normal, Byrd’s first piece for Spectrum after becoming director, about post-9/11 America. www.spectrumdance.org.
A Cruel New World/the new normal. Photo by Nate Watters, Courtesy Spectrum.
See the Music
Oregon Ballet Theatre’s artistic director departed at the end of 2012, in response to the board-supported new direction for the company (see “Transitions,” p. 58). But Christopher Stowell’s vision for the season lives on, and this month’s American Music Festival is but one example of his progressive leadership. Both Trey McIntyre and Pontus Lidberg have been commissioned. McIntyre’s feel-good choreography will be set to music by Pacific Northwest band Fleet Foxes, and Lidberg has chosen Portland-born composer Ryan Francis. The company also performs Matthew Neenan’s At the Border, set to music by John Adams and made for Pennsylvania Ballet. April 18–27. www.obt.org.
Alison Roper in McIntyre’s Just. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert, Courtesy OBT.
All That Jazz
In a pair of tributes to legendary jazz musicians, River North Dance Chicago will celebrate Eva Cassidy and Cuban jazz this month. The Cassidy premiere runs April 4–6 at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philly. On April 13, the company combines forces with Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and the Auditorium Theatre in a co-commissioned work titled “The Cuban Project.” www.rivernorthchicago.com.
Monique Haley of River North Dance Chicago. Photo by Marc Hauser, Courtesy RNDC.
One Starry Night
After hundreds of budding ballet dancers have competed, the trophies have been awarded, and the tears have dried, Youth America Grand Prix puts on a spectacular gala. Joining dancers from American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, and Ballet West’s Beckanne Sisk (a YAGP alumna), flying in for “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow” will be Dorothée Gilbert, one of Paris Opéra Ballet’s most fetching étoiles, and from Ballet Nacional de Cuba, balancing queen Viengsay Valdés and Osiel Gounod, the company’s promising new principal. April 18. www.yagp.org.
Viengsay Valdés of Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Photo by Matthew Karas.
Repping for Vets
Repertory Dance Theatre honors the women who have served in the United States military in “Women of Valor: In the Spirit of Service.” Featuring choreography by Joanie Smith, Bill Evans, and Susan Hadley, the April 11 performance will raise proceeds to help fund the Utah Women’s Military Memorial at the Fort Douglas Museum. April 11–13 at the Jeanne Wagner Theatre. www.rdtutah.org.
Katherine Winder. Photo by Scott Peterson, Courtesy RDT.
A Toast to Trisha
UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance fetes Trisha Brown and her legacy this month in “Trisha Brown Dance Company: The Retrospective Project.” On April 4, the company performs Astral Converted in an outdoor amphitheater on campus. Set and Reset and Spanish Dance, among other works, come to Royce Hall on April 5 and 7. UCLA students, coached by company members, will perform the groping-through-clothing Floor of the Forest at the Hammer Museum, and two performances of Roof Piece on April 6 at the iconic J. Paul Getty Museum round out the weeklong celebration. www.cap.ucla.edu.
Brown’s Spanish Dance. Photo by Alfredo Anceschi, Courtesy CAP.
The Rite Moves
Companies around the world continue to perform tributes to Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps on the occasion of the ballet’s centennial:
Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre dances Michael Keegan-Dolan’s The Rite of Spring at Sadler’s Wells in London.
GroundWorks DanceTheater performs director David Shimotakahara’s new Rite of Spring with the Akron Symphony Orchestra.
Meryl Tankard’s Oracle appears in Urbana, IL; Austin, TX; and Syracuse, NY.
Tanztheater Wuppertal performs Pina Bausch’s Das Frühlingsopfer in Taiwan and at the Bolshoi Theatre.
At Carolina Performing Arts: Nederlands Dans Theater dances Medhi Walerski’s Chamber, inspired by Le Sacre; Martha Graham Dance Company revives Graham’s Rite of Spring (1984); and students at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts perform Shen Wei’s Rite of Spring.
Nederlands Dans Theater in Medhi Walerski’s Chamber. Photo by Rahi Rezvani, Courtesy NDT.
Contributors: Kathleen Dalton, Kina Poon