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Balanchine Triple Bill

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The official release:

December 9, 2005

Pennsylvania Ballet Honors George Balanchine with a Triple-Bill Tribute

Program features Western Symphony, Prodigal Son and Theme and Variations

February 1 – 5 at the Merriam Theater

Pennsylvania Ballet presents a triple-bill program in honor of the legendary choreographer George Balanchine, and celebrates the return of three beloved programs to the Company’s repertoire from February 1 to 5 at the Merriam Theater. The program gives audiences a taste of the Wild West with Western Symphony, presents an emotional look at a well-known story with Prodigal Son, and gives audiences a look at the classic world of ballet with Theme and Variations.

Single tickets, priced $10 to $74, are available beginning January 2 by calling 215-336-2000 or by visiting www.paballet.org. Groups of 10 or more can purchase discounted tickets by calling 215-551-7000, ext. 1212.

Performed to traditional American melodies orchestrated by Hershy Kay, and with ornate and playful costumes by Frenkie Fehr after Karinska, Western Symphony brings the frontier into the city. Filled with swaggering cowboys and dance hall girls, the piece is set in the Old West and is a classic work inspired by the popularized cowboy entertainment of the 1950s. This is the first time that Pennsylvania Ballet has performed Western Symphony since February 1999.

Prodigal Son premiered in May 1929 with libretto by Boris Kochno, derived from the Biblical parable and from a description of it in a story by Pushkin. The ballet is deeply religious and Russian in feeling; however, there are extreme changes from the original tale: the elder brother has been eliminated from the story and a Siren is added for spice and dramatic value. Set to a moving score by Sergei Prokofiev, Prodigal Son features scenic and costume design by George Roualt. Pennsylvania Ballet last performed Prodigal Son in February 1998.

Lastly, Theme and Variations is a tribute to the Imperial Russian Ballet of Balanchine’s youth. Created for American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancers Alicia Alonso and Igor Youskevitch, the work premiered in November 1947 at the City Center in New York City. Set to the music of Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3 in G, Theme and Variations is an obvious homage to The Sleeping Beauty, replicating the classical pas de deux. Another aspect Balanchine explored in this ballet is the classic ballet training, focusing on preparatory movements that were developed to train and warm-up the dancer’s body. This is the first time the Company has performed Theme and Variations since November 1986.

Founded in 1963 by Balanchine student Barbara Weisberger, Pennsylvania Ballet is one of the nation’s leading ballet companies. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the Company’s annual local season features six productions of classic favorites and new works, including the Philadelphia holiday tradition, The Nutcracker. For more information, call 215-551-7000 or visit www.paballet.org.

2005-2006 Season

Western Symphony

With Prodigal Son and Theme and Variations

Merriam Theater

Wednesday, February 1 at 8 p.m.

Thursday, February 2 at 8 p.m.

Friday, February 3 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, February 4 at 2 and 8 p.m.

Sunday, February 5 at 2 p.m.

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Casting is up. It can be viewed in its complete form here:

http://www.paballet.org/_uploaded/pdf/prod...erncasting1.pdf

Or the short form here:

Wednesday, February 1, 2005 at 8:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS:

JULIE DIANA JAMES ADY

PRODIGAL SON:

The Prodigal Son PHILIP COLUCCI

The Siren RIOLAMA LORENZO

Father ALEXEI CHAROV

Servants to the Prodigal Son MATTHEW NEENAN and

JONATHAN STILES

WESTERN SYMPHONY:

First Movement: Allegro

AMY ALDRIDGE ALEXEI BOROVIK

Second Movement: Adagio

JULIE DIANA MEREDITH RAINEY

Forth Movement

ARANTXA OCHOA ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

Thursday, February 2, 2005 at 8:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS:

ARANTXA OCHOA FRANCIS VEYETTE

PRODIGAL SON:

The Prodigal Son PHILIP COLUCCI

The Siren RIOLAMA LORENZO

Father ALEXEI CHAROV

Servants to the Prodigal Son MATTHEW NEENAN and

JONATHAN STILES

WESTERN SYMPHONY

First Movement: Allegro

HEIDI CRUZ JAMES IHDE

Second Movement: Adagio

VALERIE AMISS ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

Forth Movement

RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY

Friday, February 3, 2005 at 8:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS

AMY ALDRIDGE JAMES ADY

PRODIGAL SON

The Prodigal Son ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

The Siren ARANTXA OCHOA

Father ALEXEI CHAROV

Servants to the Prodigal Son MAXIMILIEN BAUD and

ANDRÉ VYTOPTOV

WESTERN SYMPHONY

First Movement: Allegro

RIOLAMA LORENZO FRANCIS VEYETTE

Second Movement: Adagio

JULIE DIANA MEREDITH RAINEY

Forth Movement

TARA KEATING PHILIP COLUCCI

Saturday, February 4, 2005 at 2:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS

JULIE DIANA JAMES ADY

PRODIGAL SON

The Prodigal Son ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

The Siren ARANTXA OCHOA

Father ALEXEI CHAROV

Servants to the Prodigal Son MAXIMILIEN BAUD and

ANDRÉ VYTOPTOV

WESTERN SYMPHONY

First Movement: Allegro

HEIDI CRUZ JAMES IHDE

Second Movement: Adagio

VALERIE AMISS ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

Forth Movement

RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY

Saturday, February 4, 2005 at 8:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS

ARANTXA OCHOA FRANCIS VEYETTE

PRODIGAL SON

The Prodigal Son PHILIP COLUCCI

The Siren RIOLAMA LORENZO

Father ALEXEI CHAROV

Servants to the Prodigal Son MATTHEW NEENAN and

JONATHAN STILES

WESTERN SYMPHONY

First Movement: Allegro

AMY ALDRIDGE ALEXEI BOROVIK

Second Movement: Adagio

JULIE DIANA MEREDITH RAINEY

Forth Movement

ARANTXA OCHOA ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

Sunday, February 5, 2005 at 2:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS

AMY ALDRIDGE JAMES ADY

PRODIGAL SON

The Prodigal Son ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

The Siren ARANTXA OCHOA

Father ALEXEI CHAROV

Servants to the Prodigal Son MAXIMILIEN BAUD and

ANDRÉ VYTOPTOV

WESTERN SYMPHONY

First Movement: Allegro

RIOLAMA LORENZO FRANCIS VEYETTE

Second Movement: Adagio

VALERIE AMISS ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

Forth Movement

TARA KEATING PHILIP COLUCCI

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Note: The company refers to the sections of Western Symphony in movement form, not about temp. So, the third movement is excluded as has become custom in performance. It's not missing for the list.

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After being rather disappointed with Wheeldon's Swan Lake and missing Nutcracker this year, I'm really looking forward to this programme.

I'll be seeing the Thursday performance and I'm especially excited about Philip Colucci as the Prodigal Son - he was terrific in Tharps' Nine Sinatra Songs last season (I can't remember the name of his number off the top of my head, but I think it was the 'prom' dance). Also excited to see Ochoa in Theme and Variations - she never seems to be cast in the performances I go to.

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I have seen a number of the company productions the last few years but have never seen one at the Merriam theatre before. Will the theater affect a number as large as Theme and Variations?

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Can anyone tell me why the third movement is typically excluded from performances? NYCB does this as well. However, MCB is doing Western right now and includes it.

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The note in the MCB program says: "The third movement scherzo is a particularly difficult section of bravura dancing for the man and woman. Unique for its sequence of entrechats 6, it demands a pair of dancers with an exceptional ability for the small jumps called batterie. (Edward Villella was one with that ability.) Miami City Ballet was pleased to premiere Western symphony complete with this section [in 1994 at the Edinburgh Festival], which was cut from the ballet for many years for want of dancers able to tackle its demands." (note by Anita Finkel)

Also, MCB dances a LOT of Balanchine rep, and Villella really emphasizes training for its requirements. But I can't imagine that this explanation would be relevant to NYCB, where there are many such dancers. So why there?

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(For more detailed thoghts on this, I think we've discussed this on some other threads, but...) The prevailing opinion is, as Bart shows in the MCB note, that Balanchine thought the movement was more trouble than it was worth. I only mentioned above the the third movement wasn't there because NYCB lists the casting like this: Allegro, Adagio, Rondo. From that, one might not know anything was missing, but PA Ballet listed the movements as 1st, 2nd and 4th, which might make someone think the casting for the "3rd movement" was missing. Anyway, SAB, last year, revived the 3rd movement and NYCB, in 1993 for the Balanchine Celebration, had performed Western Symphony with the 3rd movement, but dropped it again after a few seasons.

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Unlike La Source, Western Symphony holds together just fine without its missing section. I was glad to see the Scherzo (two or three times) as a historical curiosity, but Western does not suffer significantly from its absence.

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The thing that doesn't work in Western without the Scherzo is the Finale, but other than that it holds up.

Lilianna - Theme isn't that big until the finale when the twelve men enter.

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Unlike La Source, Western Symphony holds together just fine without its missing section.

True. You would not feel that anything was missing if you did not know about it. And, since the Rondo and Finale is also a fast movement, you aren't eliminating every particle of speed by cutting the Scherzo.

However, without the Scherzo, the audience is deprived of quite a lot of exceptional dancing. :)

I can see cutting a quarter of a ballet if it seems extraneous, redundant or over-long, but none of these is the case with Western Symphony. And it seems to me that it's best to follow Balanchine's original preference if the dancers meet the technical demands.

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The Scherzo was choreographed for Patricia Wilde and Andre Eglevsky, and dates from right after The Nutcracker. It wouldn't have been the first time a piece was dropped or rechoreographed, because no one else had Wilde's technical ability.

I saw Katrina Killian and Gen Horiuchi perform the movement on 19 February 1989. For some reason, I though this was a special performance -- at least at that time, the last night of the Winter Season was a benefit for the Dancers' Emergency Fund -- but 19 February sounds a like a week too soon to have been the final performance of the season. By this time, at least half of the women were technically able to perform the choreography. Perhaps that's why it was put aside; it was no longer a unique technical feat.

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I am confused and suprosed that Amy Aldridge isn't being featured more with PA Ballet. Especially during a series featuring the work of Balanchine.

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I have seen a number of the company productions the last few years but have never seen one at the Merriam theatre before. Will the theater affect a number as large as Theme and Variations?

The width of the Merriam stage is about 45 feet, I think the Academy of Music is about 44 feet wide... I could be off by a foot or so, but the stage size is comparable between the two houses... there is, however, a difference in the number of seats in the audience.

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I count myself fortunate indeed to have been able to see 4 of the PA Ballet Balanchine series shows. What a beautiful company!! Theme and Variations was breathtaking. I become more and more impressed with the performances of James Ady each time that I see him. He was masterful in Theme and Variations. He is a wonderful turner and has such clean technique. A joy to watch. My favorite ballerina in the role was Amy Aldridge. Her turns were spot on , no bobbles and positions were clear. I also enjoyed Julie Diana in the role, she is one of my very favorite dancers.

I had never seen Prodigal Son performed before. While it will never be one of my favorites, it was interesting. Phil Colucchi was wonderful on Saturday night and Riolama Lorenzo was the perfect siren, all legs and feet. I did have a wee small tear in my eye as the father gathered Phil in his arms, protected him and walked towards home.

Now Western Symphony is one of my all time favorites and the company did not disappoint me. I love the energy and fun of this ballet. There were a few spills in the performances. I think that the short depth of the stage crowded the dancers a bit and made all of the quick passing of each other difficult. And there were some last minute substitutions due to injuries and illnesses. But that didn't detract from the performances. It is even hard to say who the standouts were, everyone did such a wonderful job. Phil Colucchi was again a standout. I also loved Valerie Amiss in the second movement and Riolama in the 4th movement. Western Symphony is a great crowd pleaser and perfect ending to the ballet performance.

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How was Francis Veyette in the lead of Theme and Variations?

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Good beats but his upper body didn't look schooled. I don't think he's suited to white tights roles. The company wasn't really up to Theme; they looked much more at home in either Prodigal or Western.

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I saw the Thursday night performance. I had never seen any of these ballets before. My main complaint is that each one of the ballets was too short. :) I would have been very happy to have seen the Third Movement of Western Symphony too.

To my great surprise, Theme and Variations was the ballet I least liked. The dancers looked like they were being very careful which wasn't what I had expected. The ballet also suffered IMO from a lack of scenery. The aura of grandeur that I was expecting just wasn't there. I wish the company could perform this again next year, so that they could work at it some more.

I loved The Prodigal Son. The aesthetic with the blazingly colorful Kandinsky-esque sets and costumes is very appealing and I also like the stylized movement. In a weird way, it reminded me of Martha Graham's ballets. Philip Colucci was outstanding as the title character. He has boyish looks, so he was a vulnerable and susceptible Prodigal. This is probably a breakout performance for Colucci.

Western Symphony looked like it was a lot of fun for audience and dancers alike. I can't single out any dancers as it was all I could do just to concentrate on the choreography. However it was definitely Riolama Lorenzo's night for outlandish headresses, as she was the Siren and then began the Fourth Movement in WS with a fancy sun bonnet.

I wish I could have seen this program again, but it was avery short run and unfortunately, the night I went, the theatre was not full at all.

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I got to see 4 shows, Friday night through Sunday. All of the shows seemed very sold, so good news for the ballet. By far, I thought that the Sunday show was the best of the 4. I ,also , wish that the run would have been longer for this series. It was a great series.

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