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PA Ballet makes international debut

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April 19, 2005

In a unique collaboration, the Company performs Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake

with the Russian Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio

Pennsylvania Ballet makes its International Debut August 15 to 19, 2005, at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland with six performances of Christopher Wheeldon’s acclaimed Swan Lake, performed with the Russian Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio. This is a unique first-time collaboration between the Company and the orchestra, which will be conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev.

“The directors of the Festival saw our production of Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake when we premiered it in Philadelphia in June 2004,” said Pennsylvania Ballet Artistic Director Roy Kaiser. “They felt that this new take on a classic ballet would particularly appeal to their audiences. This is a big event for us, and it says a lot about the quality of this organization.”

Edinburgh International Festival Director Brian McMaster announced the festival schedule on Thursday, March 17. Additional highlights of this year’s event include the world premieres of three plays commissioned by the Festival and written by Scottish writers: David Harrower, Shan Khan and Chiew Siah Tei; the British staged premiere of John Adams’ rarely performed opera The Death of Klinghoffer; a presentation of the complete stage works of Irish playwright J M Synge; Jonathan Nott conducting a five-concert residency in the Usher Hall with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra; and collaborations between the Dutch National Ballet with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Scottish Ballet with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

International audiences will delight in six performances of Pennsylvania Ballet’s re-imagined version of Swan Lake, which features much of the original choreography created by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa in 1895, and the crux of the story – the tragic romance of the beautiful Swan Queen trapped by an evil sorcerer who allows her to become human only at night – also remains the same. Mr. Wheeldon changed selected elements of the plot, as well as added original choreography that works cohesively with the traditional elements retained. He also refocused the narrative to be more prominent and realized more through dance and movement than through pantomime. In Mr. Wheeldon’s own words, creating a new version of Swan Lake was to him like “resetting an old diamond heirloom into a contemporary setting.”

Resident Choreographer of New York City Ballet, Mr. Wheeldon is perhaps the most sought-after choreographer in the world, being hailed as “the next George Balanchine” by critics and audiences alike. His credits include a variety of repertory and full-length works for Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Royal Ballet, and New York City Ballet, as well as the Broadway show Sweet Smell of Success and the film Center Stage. Born in Somerset, England, he studied at the Royal Ballet School, and danced as a member of the Royal Ballet for two years before joining New York City Ballet in 1993. He retired as a Soloist in 2000 to concentrate on his choreographic work.

Pennsylvania Ballet’s performances on tour are generously supported by PNC Bank and the William Penn Foundation.

This production was made possible, in part, by the Claneil Foundation; a grant from Dance Advance, a program funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by Drexel University; a Cultural Economic Development Grant funded by the Delaware River Port Authority with administrative support provided by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance; the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; Louise and Alan Reed; Wachovia; and the William Penn Foundation.

Founded in 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival is recognized as one of the most important celebrations of the arts in the world and brings to Edinburgh some of the best in international theater, music, dance and opera. Each festival day kicks off with a chamber concert or recital and is followed by a number of extraordinary events, from symphony concerts to classical ballet, contemporary dance, theater and opera. In between, there are talks, lectures, exhibitions, book and film festivals, and more! The annual event uses all major concert and theater venues in the city. And the arts will really take over the city this year, as the famed Edinburgh Fringe Festival will occur at the same time, running August 2 – 29.

The Edinburgh International Festival is supported by The City of Edinburgh Council, the Scottish Arts Council and EventScotland.

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.



Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake

with the Russian Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio

Vladimir Fedoseyev, conductor

Monday, August 15 through Friday, August 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, August 16 at 1:30 p.m.

Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Ticket prices for festival events start at £6. For additional information, please visit www.paballet.org or www.eif.co.uk. To purchase tickets, please call 44 (0) 0131 473 2000.

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I wish someone would underwrite a college tour of the major regional companies...even if it is a reduced touring ensemble instead of the full company with full orchestra and sets. It seems every year here at UConn we get a second level (or lower) Russian company... although I guess one year it was the Shanghai Ballet instead of a Russian company... and during the performance I find myself thinking how unfortunate we don't get the opportunity to see one of the better regional companies instead... I'm not sure any Balanchine has ever been performed here, for instance... though we got that bizarre Romeo & Juliet and a rather indecipherable Coppelia...

It's unfortunate the National Endowment for the Arts doesn't help to distribute ballet to hinterlands a little.

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What a wonderful point! The situation is the same in the college town where my parents live. They make every effort to bring in touring ballet companies, opera companies, broadway shows, etc., but they are always "second level (or lower)" as you say. (Usually lower, frankly.) The majority of the audience doesn't know any better, and thus they never let a performance end without a standing ovation. I witnessed it myself this past winter after an horrific performance of Giselle... a five minute standing O! It's really a shame, when this country has so much to offer, that they seem to only be interested in bringing in Russian companies -- talented, or not.

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Congrats to PABallet for this wonderful international exposure. This company is certainly worthy of being seen throughout the country as well as abroad. I hope they are able to begin touring more in the next few years as well, Pugbee~

Amy, you brought back memories of the old NEA Dance Touring program when regional companies like PABallet DID indeed tour the entire country. It was a great program that enabled all sizes of dance companies to perform across the country.

The NEA picked up 50% of the tab to the presenter, as I recall......those were the days.......

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PA Ballet has stepped up its touring in the past few years- I know they have performed throughout Pennsylvania (including Penn State) and also did their Nutcracker in Cleveland for several years.

The NEA's touring program is sadly defunct which is probably what prevents them from travelling further afield. I think touring is such a gamble for the presenters unless you have a "sure thing" like ABT that presenters may be reluctant to book smaller American companies. But I may be off base with that thought...it just seems to me that maybe for people who aren't as familiar with the ballet world, the Shangai Ballet and Russian Ballet Company X probably sound more exciting/prestigious than Pennsylvania Ballet. It's a vicious cycle- the company's reputation would almost certainly improve through touring once people see how great they are but they might not sell a lot of tickets without that big national reputation, which makes touring prohibitively expensive. But these are just my musings...

Edited by Tessa2
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