Choreography by Petipa, Weiss and Balanchine

Carolina Ballet will give a nod to the great Russian choreographer, Marius Petipa, when it presents Black and White Swan to open its 14th season September 15-October 2, 2011 at the AJ Fletcher Opera Theater of the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. Also on the program is Robert Weiss’ Time Gallery to music by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Paul Moravec, and The Prodigal Son choreographed by George Balanchine to a score by Serge Prokofiev.

The schedule of performances is as follows:

  • Thursday, September 15 at 8pm
  • Friday, September 16 at 8pm
  • Saturday, September 17, 24 & October 1 at 2pm & 8pm
  • Sunday September 18, 25 & October 2 at 2pm

Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov created Swan Lake to the magnificent score of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky in 1895. It had its premiere at the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg and has since become the quintessential romantic story ballet, so much so that George Balanchine is said to have stated that if you name every ballet Swan Lake people will be sure to attend. Artistic Director Robert Weiss explains that his decision to present Petipa’s choreography of the “Black Swan and White Swan pas de deux” came out of all the renewed interest in ballet generated by the movie Black Swan. Carolina Ballet dancers have never danced the Petipa choreography so Weiss thought “let’s give these dancers a shot and get these new ballet fans into the theater. Let’s take advantage of the publicity while we can get it.”

Except for when the Bolshoi Ballet was in Chapel Hill in June 2009, Triangle audiences have had little opportunity to see Petipa’s classical choreography from Swan Lake. Weiss created his own Swan Lake in 2005 but steered clear of “imitation” of Petipa’s choreography knowing all too well that it couldn’t be improved upon.

This opening program of the 2011-2012 season also includes George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, based on the parable from The Bible. The ballet is one of Balanchine’s early works, choreographed in 1929 to music by Serge Prokofiev commissioned by Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes. It was first presented in America by New York City Ballet in 1950. Carolina Ballet presented Prodigal Son on a program celebrating the 100th anniversary of Balanchine’s birth in 2004. Roy Dicks in The News & Observer wrote “Prodigal Son is a vigorous, stage filling spectacle in which Balanchine tells the biblical story with humor and pathos combining ballet with circuslike acrobatics.”

The third ballet on the program is Weiss’ Time Gallery created in 2008 during the company’s summer residency on the campus of UNC Wilmington. When asked during an open rehearsal as he was creating the ballet, what it is about, Robert Weiss said “it’s about time, a day in the life of mankind, a day experienced through time keeping devices – heartbeat, bells, clocks…” All of this he feels is embodied in Paul Moravec’s music. It wasn’t the first time Weiss used music by Moravec, in 2006 he created a ballet to Moravec’s 2004 Pulitzer Prize winning score Tempest Fantasy. Orla Swift wrote of Time Gallery in the News & Observer “you’ll see the simplicity of Benedictine monks, the glow of sunrise and sunset, hints of sundials, the varied rhythms of blood pumping through veins, the seemingly infinite stretch of stars and galaxy, and the precise interactions of clock machinery. You will also see, and hear, the way time sometimes seems to morph according to our emotions.”

Ticket prices for Black and White Swan range from $25-65 and are available by calling the Carolina Ballet box office at 919 719-0900 or Ticketmaster at 800 982-2787.

After thirteen seasons, Carolina Ballet, Inc. is recognized among America’s premier arts organizations. Under the innovative direction of artistic director Robert Weiss, a talented company, fiscally responsible management and community support, Carolina Ballet exposes audiences to traditional ballet by legendary masters and new works of contemporary choreographers. The company represents the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and ever-increasing quality of life experienced here in North Carolina.

By Triangle A&E

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