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PA Ballet 2005-06 season


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Pennsylvania Ballet announces its 2005-2006 Season!

February 24, 2005


Season features a number of works back by popular demand, including Christopher Wheeldon’s spectacular Swan Lake, Matthew Neenan’s acclaimed 11:11 and James Kudelka’s mesmerizing Firebird

Artistic Director Roy Kaiser announced at a press conference today details of Pennsylvania Ballet’s exciting 2005-2006 Season, featuring beautiful classics and a number of popular works by contemporary choreographers, including James Kudelka, Ulysses Dove and Matthew Neenan.

Programming for the 2005-2006 Season is as follows:

Swan Lake: Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon.

September 30 – October 8 at the Academy of Music

The Nutcracker: Choreography by George Balanchine.

December 2 – 31 at the Academy of Music

Western Symphony: A triple-bill tribute to George Balanchine featuring Western Symphony, Prodigal Son and Theme and Variations.

February 1 – 5 at the Merriam Theater

The Firebird: Choreography by James Kudelka; Also on the program is Christopher d’Amboise’s Franklin Court.

March 3 – 11 at the Academy of Music

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Choreography by George Balanchine.

April 13 – 23 at the Academy of Music

11:11: Choreography by Matthew Neenan; Also on the program is the Company Premiere of lysses Dove’s Red Angels and another ballet to be announced.

June 7 – 11 at the Merriam Theater

Subscriptions are available by calling 215-551-7000 or online at www.paballet.org. Prices for full season subscriptions range from $80 to $408.25.

“In August, the Company will make its international debut with performances of Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake at the International Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, and we couldn’t think of a better way to start our own season here in Philadelphia, returning to where it all started,” said Mr. Kaiser. “This is a season filled with audience favorites and the return of a number of works that haven’t been performed by the Company in many years. The works we’ve chosen will remind everyone why they love dance!”

Pennsylvania Ballet kicks off its 42nd season September 30 to October 8 at the Academy of Music with the return of Christopher Wheeldon’s critically acclaimed Swan Lake, commissioned and premiered by the Company in June 2004 in honor of our 40th anniversary. Wheeldon’s version, based on the original Ivanov/Petipa classic, has been re-imagined for today’s audiences. With spectacular sets and costumes, the million-dollar production is set in the 19th-century milieu of the Paris Opera Ballet of Edgar Degas. The tragic romance of the beautiful Swan Queen trapped by an evil sorcerer who allows her to become human only at night has touched generations of ballet and theater-goers worldwide. Set to the famous Tchaikovsky score, Swan Lake embodies the heart and soul of classic story ballet, and ignites the senses with a mesmerizing plot, brilliant characters and unforgettable moments of drama and beauty.

The greatest holiday tradition returns December 2 to 31 at the Academy of Music when Pennsylvania Ballet presents George Balanchine’s spectacular production of The Nutcracker. The Company’s annual production of The Nutcracker has delighted generations of audiences in Philadelphia for 37 years. Featuring the original Tchaikovsky score performed by a live orchestra and the Philadelphia Boys Choir, extravagant sets and costumes, and spellbinding character dances, The Nutcracker is a tradition shared by more than 50,000 children and adults each season.

Pennsylvania Ballet presents a tribute to legendary choreographer George Balanchine February 1 to 5 at the Merriam Theater with the return of three classic ballets to the repertoire.

Western Symphony, performed by the Company for the first time since February 1999, is set on an Old West street filled with rowdy cowboys and dance hall girls; it is a classic work inspired by the popularized cowboy entertainment of the 1950s. The steps Balanchine uses from the traditional ballet vocabulary allude to the steps, formations and gestures of American folk dancing. The lively score for this work features classic folk songs, including “Red River Valley,” “Old Taylor,” “Good Night Ladies” and “The Girl I Left Behind Me.”

With choreography by the 24-year-old George Balanchine, an original score by Sergei Prokofiev and an expressionistic set by Georges Rouault, Prodigal Son is derived from the Biblical parable and is deeply religious and Russian in feeling. Pennsylvania Ballet performs this ballet for the first time since February 1998. The emotional story is communicated through unforgettable visual contrasts: the upright stature and calm, unhurried gestures of the patriarch; the acrobatic bravado of the son, impelled towards freedom; the mechanized, gargoyle-like revelers; the snakelike sensuality of the seductress; and, finally, the journey of the Prodigal, on his knees, to the forgiving embrace of his father.

Theme and Variations is a tribute to the Imperial Russian Ballet of Balanchine’s youth, featuring challenging choreography and glittering costumes. Set to the music of Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3 in G, the work is an obvious homage to The Sleeping Beauty, replicating the classic pas de deux. Another aspect that 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 since November 1986 that Pennsylvania Ballet has performed Theme and Variations.

An audience favorite, James Kudelka’s The Firebird returns March 3 to 11 at the Academy of Music. Originally created for National Ballet of Canada, Houston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, The Firebird is set to the complete Stravinsky score and soars with sweeping choreography and opulent sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto. This ballet is an inventive and colorful re-imagining of the exotic fairy tale of a Prince and Princess whose love is saved by the powers of a magical Firebird.

Also on this program, the Company joins Philadelphia in celebrating Benjamin Franklin’s 300th Birthday with the return of former Artistic Director Christopher d’Amboise’s Franklin Court. According to d’Amboise: “Of all the Benjamin Franklins – statesman, writer, politician, printer, philosopher – Franklin the inventor fascinates me the most. He understood that invention is not the same as creation; it is the uncovering of what is already there and finding in it a new use.” Set to Bach’s moving G Minor Fugue, a magnificent set of hanging beams resembling Robert Venturi’s “ghost house” floats above the stage while Franklin’s inventions are highlighted through the dancers’ personification of swim fins, bifocals, spark and electricity.

Pennsylvania Ballet welcomes spring with George Balanchine’s mystical A Midsummer Night’s Dream April 13 to 23 at the Academy of Music. Based on Shakespeare’s riotous comedy and set to Felix Mendelssohn’s enchanting score, the story of the ballet closely coincides with the play’s hilarious tale of adventures and misadventures of a group of mortals and immortals in their quest for love. Audiences will laugh as they follow the stories that surround a host of colorful characters, including the mischievous Puck and the dimwitted human/donkey Bottom. In addition to the many professional dancers required, this elaborate production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream features over a dozen children as adorable bugs.

The season comes to a passionate conclusion June 7 to 11 at the Merriam Theater with the return of Matthew Neenan’s critically acclaimed 11:11 (back by popular demand!) and the Company Premiere of Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels.

Performed to six songs by popular singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright, 11:11 features earth-tone costumes designed by Principal Dancer Martha Chamberlain and a cast of 20 dancing to such songs as “Vibrate” and “Oh What a World.” Hailed by The Philadelphia Inquirer as “a work that’s so much of this moment, beautifully crafted, warm and accessible,” 11:11 premiered in February 2005 to glowing reviews and standing ovations.

Pennsylvania Ballet also presents the Company Premiere of Red Angels, an extremely visually dramatic ballet which highlights the dancers’ power and athleticism. This piece for four dancers was Ulysses Dove’s first work for New York City Ballet. Red Angels is a ballet of intense color, sound and sensual impact, performed to live electric violin music written by Richard Einhorn.

Full season subscription prices range from $80 to $408.25. Subscribers receive many benefits over single ticket purchasers including priority seating, flexible payment plan, discounts to fine restaurants and other area cultural institutions, advance ticket purchasing for The Nutcracker and more! There are special discount subscriptions for senior citizens, students and groups of 10 or more, as well as the Thursday Night Jumps series, specifically designed for people ages 19 to 32.

Pennsylvania Ballet also offers a Family Matinee Series which includes a free Family Day event on the day of the show. Family Day is a fun-filled event featuring entertainment, games and craft activities as well as autograph opportunities with some of the featured dancers. The Family Matinee Series performances this season are as follows: The Nutcracker on Saturday, December 10 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; The Firebird and Franklin Court on Saturday, March 4 at noon; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Saturday, April 22 at noon.

For more information or to subscribe to Pennsylvania Ballet’s 2005-2006 season, call 215-551-7000 or order online at www.paballet.org.

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Everybody knows that I love Balanchine so the next season looks great. Plus, I think it's good that they are bringing Swan Lake and 11:11 back. The Swan Lake was a box office success (mixed critically) and I think dancing it more will be good for the company. And with the typical subscription series, you don't get repeats of rep. Dancers sometimes need to work on ballets for more than one season. I'm glad they are nurturing Neenan. Balanchine is in this company's blood and his works will show off their compelling women.

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Great programming. A little on the safe side - but seeing as I have very few opportunities to see other companies, I don't mind at all. :thumbsup:

What on earth is Franklin Court like? It sounds like a very strange ballet.

I do wish however that PA Ballet did 'talks' like some/most other companies - either with company members or stagers, etc.

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This season does sound exciting......and those of you who have not seen this Swan Lake by Wheeldon should try to catch it and even see it twice if you can. The first viewing was 'jarring' for me and there was so much visually to take in. My next viewing was more relaxed and I was able to enjoy the ballet in total. It is really a beautifully designed production even if you may have varying opinions about the departures from many other more traditional SL's.

February's Balanchine programming has my vote.....the company dances Balanchine ballets exceedingly well. I was also glad to see Neenan's 11:11 returning in hopes I can see it this time around! It was given such high praise as one of his best ballets yet. Would like to know more about D'Amboise's "Franklin Court" which does sound interesting, GWTW.........

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I used to post on Ballet Alert as Tessa, but I can't seem to get into my old account, so I've created a new one.

I was interested to read about the return of Franklin Court- I've seen still photos of this ballet but never the real deal. From what I understand it was the standout of the Chris D'Amboise era at PA Ballet, so I'm very intrigued.

The rest of the season is a little "meh" to me, only because Pennsylvania Ballet has done most of these works in the fairly recent past (and some in the very recent past!) It's the kind of thing that makes long-time subscribers a little nuts. :thumbsup: Although I'm not sure how recently the Balanchine works were performed- I know Western Symphony was done at the Kennedy Center Balanchine celebration but I've never seen PA Ballet perform Prodigal Son or Theme and Variations, so that's something to look forward to.

The news about the Edinburgh Festival is also very exciting.

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