By Tara Mitton Catao
With new works to be seen and an emphasis on creativity, there is a lot to look forward to in the upcoming season. The dance series presented at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and The Duncan Theatre as well as Miami City Ballet’s 2015/16 season are looking rich as they run the gamut from enormous, new production ballets to intimate, black-box presentations of small troupes.
Here’s a look at the lineup:
Miami City Ballet is all revved up for an ambitious 30th anniversary year. The centerpiece of the season is a brand-new production of George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez is again weaving ballet together with artists from different art forms. This time, she has brought together internationally respected Miami natives Michele Oka Doner, a visual artist, to create new sets and costumes and Tarrell Alvin McCraney, a playwright, to serve as dramaturge.
With a cast of 81 dancers that includes 24 children, the evening-length ballet version of Shakespeare’s popular play features some of Felix Mendelssohn’s most fetching music. It is interesting to note that when Balanchine choreographed this work in 1962, he created the central role of Oberon to highlight the talent of a young dancer named Edward Villella, who went on to found Miami City Ballet and serve as its artistic director. A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed on MCB’s Program Four at the Kravis Center on April 1-3.
MCB starts its Palm Beach County season earlier this year, with Program One at the Kravis from Nov. 13-15, and will feature a Balanchine/Robbins program with a revisit of Viscera, the commissioned work that up-and-coming British choreographer Liam Scarlett created for the company in 2012. Precise and musical, Scarlett draws from his Royal Ballet training to hone his craftsmanship. Set to one of Tchaikovsky’s most exemplary scores, Balanchine’s Swan Lake was created in 1951 for his then favorite muse, the famed ballerina Maria Tallchief. In his version, Balanchine uses only the “white acts” (Acts Two and Four). Jerome Robbins’ quintessential Fancy Free, the story of three sailors on leave during World War II who meet three girls on a hot summer night in New York City, set to a score by Leonard Bernstein, will close the program.
La Source, the nostalgic work on Program Two (Jan. 29-31) which was choreographed in 1968 to the music of Leo Délibes, is one of Balanchine’s “pink ballets,” that recollects the elegant period of 19th-century French ballet. Balanchine’s successor at New York City Ballet, Peter Martins, utilized Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto for a work aptly titled Barber Violin Concerto. Juxtaposing two couples — one modern and one classical — Martins created a work that contrasts one couple to the other. In the Upper Room, which also contains modern dance juxtaposed with classical, is a brilliant 40-minute piece by Twyla Tharp that is over all too quickly. It is memorable in every way from the choreography and costumes to the surging force of Philip Glass’s score.
Last year’s sensation, choreographer Justin Peck, is back again this year in Program Three (Feb. 26-28), with the company premiere of Year of the Rabbit. His acclaimed work was choreographed in 2012 for 18 dancers of the New York City Ballet where Peck himself is a dancer. Known as a very architectural choreographer, Peck uses the electronic music of Sufjan Stevens (re-orchestrated for strings by Michael Atkinson) to explore, in a rather joyful way, the cyclical nature of life.
Program Three also flaunts another company premiere: Sunset by master modern dance choreographer Paul Taylor. If last season’s soaring performance of Taylor’s Mercuric Tidings is any indication, Sunset should be a real asset to MCB’s repertory. Called by the New York Observer “one of the few great dance works of the past quarter-century,” Sunset echoes the poignant theme and complexities of soldiers leaving behind the girls they love, as Robbins’ Fancy Free did in Program One. Closing the program is another French-styled, charming work by Balanchine. Bubbly, lively and humorous, Bourrée Fantasque is choreographed to the music of French composer and pianist Emmanuel Chabrier.
And of course, there is Miami City Ballet’s lavish, full-production of The Nutcracker, which will have ample performances for the entire family to enjoy during the holiday season. Early evening performances and matinees are scheduled for Dec. 27-29.
New to the Duncan Theatre’s ever-popular dance series is the top-notch Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, which was founded in 1977 by Lou Conte to present his tap-dancing, musical theater style choreography. Now under the artistic directorship of Glenn Edgerton, and celebrating its 39th season, it has become one of the world’s premier dance companies, presenting innovative contemporary works both by American and international choreographers. HSDC will open the Duncan’s season Jan. 22-23 and will be followed by the Paul Taylor Dance Company on Feb. 26-27. Taylor is a prolific choreographer and one of the most respected artists of our time, having created over 130 highly original works that are chocked-filled with movement. The program will include selections from the company’s March 2016 season at New York City’s Lincoln Center.
Next up will be the Limón Dance Company on March 18-19. This company is dedicated to continuing the legacy of José Limón and his mentors Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. Together their innovative works from as early as 1946 paved the way for the modern dance movement in America. The performances at the Duncan are part of the 70th anniversary worldwide tour for the company and will have several Limón masterpieces that haven’t been seen in more than 20 years.
Closing the season will be the always exciting Pilobolus Dance Theatre on April 1-2. Know for their never-ending invention, drama and quirky humor, Pilobolus is undisputedly one of the most engaging companies around. Not only are they highly artistic, they are also very accessible to all type of audiences and that always makes their performances eagerly anticipated.
The Duncan Theatre also will host create.DANCE.florida on Nov. 14 and again on April 16. This is a new incarnation of The Dancers’ Space, which focuses on presenting new works danced by Florida dancers and created by Florida choreographers. Co-directed by Danielle Armstrong and Donna Murray, the organization’s past shows have been well attended and well received.
The Duncan Theatre is located at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth. All performances begin at 8 p.m. For tickets, call the box office at 561-868-3309 or visit www.duncantheatre.org.
The wonderful Momix, which is an offshoot of Pilobolus and was founded by the incredibly imaginative Moses Pendleton (who was one of the original members of Pilobolus), will be performing at the Kravis on Nov. 29. The collaborative group will present their evening-length Botanica, an ambitious and visually stunning multimedia work that takes the audience on a journey through the seasons.
Momix is part of the Kravis’ excellent PEAK series, which specializes in presenting innovative performing groups. The performances are at the intimate Rinker Theatre and curtain is at 7:30 p.m. The dance lineup this season also includes Rioult Dance NY, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, and Blaze: The International Dance Spectacular.
Rioult Dance NY (Dec. 2-3) is known for its exquisite performances that are both articulate and sensual. Artistic Director Pascal Rioult, a former principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, weaves athleticism and grace into his work naturally, as he was a former track and field athlete when he was growing up in France. The modern dance company’s signature style has been described as “unquestionably beautiful.”
The innovative and provocative repertory of the Lula Washington Dance Theatre (Jan.22-23) reflects the determined spirit of founder Lula Washington, who created the company in 1980 with her husband, Erwin. It showcases her risk-taking, experimental creations that explore social ideas as well as the works of other African-American dance makers.
Blaze: The International Dance Spectacular (Feb. 2-3) builds on the dynamics and success of TV shows such as America’s Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance by connecting the explosive energy of nightclubs with the production values of Broadway together with the beat of the street. All this is intensified by the high-volt energy of seasoned break dancers. This touring production is directed by renowned choreographer Anthony Van Laast.
Performing for just one night on the main stage at the Kravis are Ballet Austin, Trinity Irish Dance Company, State Ballet of Russia and the acclaimed Joffrey Ballet. All performances start at 8 pm.
On November 7, InSIGHT Through Education Inc., in collaboration with the Kravis Center, will present Ballet Austin in a multidisciplinary human rights project called Light: The Holocaust and Humanity Project. Choreographed by Artistic Director Stephen Mills, the full-length contemporary ballet, which includes art, education and public dialogue, has been gaining international acclaim since its debut 10 years ago. The work explores the lessons revealed through the story of a Holocaust survivor.
At 6:45 p.m. there will be a free pre-performance discussion by Steven Caras in The Picower Foundation Arts Education. Light seeks to promote discussion against bigotry, hate and bullying among all community groups. Tickets start at $15.
On Jan. 2, the Trinity Irish Dance Company, which has been the subject of several celebrated PBS documentaries and specials, will be back with a revitalized collection of new and classic works for its dazzling dancers. Choreographer and Artistic Director Mark Howard has a world premiere this season which one expects will have the same remarkable precision and speed in the footwork that we have come to expect from progressive Irish dance.
The State Ballet Theatre of Russia will perform Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet on Jan. 14. The touring company, which features more than 50 Russian dancers, was founded by former Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer Maya Plisetskaya and is now under the direction of award-winning dancer and Moiseyev Dance Company soloist Nikolay Anokhin.
And on March 12, the eminent Joffrey Ballet arrives at the Kravis. Celebrating its 60th season, this dynamic, internationally renowned company of beautifully classically trained dancers is known for maintaining the highest standards. Its repertoire is comprised of major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and cutting-edge contemporary works.
Local companies also have a full season ahead:
Boca Ballet Theatre leads off the holiday season with its performances of The Nutcracker from Nov. 27-29 at Olympic Heights High School. Choreographed by Co-Artistic Director Dan Guin for a cast of more than 100 dancers, this year the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier will be guest artists from American Ballet Theater: Cassandra Trenary (recipient of a 2015 Princess Grace Dance Honorarium) and Gray Davis. Following the matinees, there will be a children’s party — The Gingerbread Ball — where kids can eat holiday treats and mingle with the cast onstage.
Boca Ballet Theatre will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a gala performance in March. The program will feature internationally acclaimed guest artists who have performed with Boca Ballet and are returning to celebrate this milestone occasion by performing the iconic roles they danced for Boca Ballet in the past. The performance will take place at 6 p.m. March 16 at the Countess de Hoernle Theater in Boca Raton.
Rounding out the company’s season will be two more series of performances, Spring Mix, a mixed repertory program that will feature renowned Danish choreographer August Bournonville’s classic one-act masterpiece Flower Festival at Genzano (May 7-8) and the enduring romantic ballet Giselle (July 29-31) which is performed in two acts and set to a score by Adolphe Adam .
Visit www.bocaballet.org for tickets and more information, or call (561) 995 0709.
The Harid Conservatory will present its annual winter performances Dec. 12-13. Featuring its talented students from all over the world who all attend this professional school on the tuition-free scholarships, the program will have various selections of ballet as well as Act II of The Nutcracker. HARID’s spring performances will be May 27-29 and will feature a variety of classical and contemporary ballets. All performances are at the Countess de Hoernle Theater in Boca Raton. For tickets go either online at www.harid.edu/performances or call 561-998-8038.
On Feb. 19-21, the Palm Beach Gardens-based Reach Dance Company presents Artistic Director Maria H. Konrad’s The Office, a thought-provoking but humorous look at women, fashion and the music of the late 1950’s. It was the time when women began to enter the workplace in force. On the same program, the company will also present new works of promising choreographers as well as a brand-new work by Konrad. The performances are at the Eissey Campus Theatre in Palm Beach Gardens and tickets will be available at www.reachdancecompany.com.
Ballet Palm Beach has a busy season ahead as it launches into its 15th year on Oct. 24-25 with Act II of Swan Lake and other works. Swan Lake is considered one of the greatest classical ballets and certainly one of the most romantic as only true love can break the spell that an evil sorcerer holds over a beautiful young woman who, by day, is transformed into a swan and by night, returns to human form.
On Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 27-29), the company will continue their tradition of presenting their version of The Nutcracker. On March 19-20, Artistic Director Colleen Smith will premiere a new work, Gatsby, which is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, and centers on the love that Gatsby has for the beautiful and flighty Daisy.
On Mother’s Day weekend (May 7-8), Ballet Palm Beach will dance Cinderella, the beloved story of Cinderella who discovers her Prince Charming with the help of her Fairy Godmother’s magic, despite her ugly stepsisters’ comic attempts to thwart her.
All performances are at the Eissey Campus Theatre at Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach Gardens. Tickets begin at $17 and can be purchased online at balletpalmbeach.org or at the Eissey Campus Theatre Box Office four weeks prior to each performance at 561-207-5900.