During the upcoming 2012-2013 season Carolina Ballet, the Triangle area’s professional ballet company, will celebrate yet another milestone, its 15th anniversary. The season could be subtitled “The Best of…” as it will highlight works of artistic director Robert Weiss, principal guest choreographer Lynne Taylor Corbett, Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine – including favorites from the repertory and several premieres. The productions will be performed in the AJ Fletcher Opera Theater (AJF) and Raleigh Memorial Auditorium (RMA) both located at the Progress Energy for the performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. The schedule for the season is as follows (please note an asterisk (*) is next to the two programs that have been changed, the rest of the season remains as previously announced):
- An Evening of Robert Weiss, September 13-30, 2012 (AJF)
- *A Balanchine Celebration, October 11-28, 2012 (AJF)
- Nutcracker, November 23-25 & December 14-23, 2012 (RMA)
- An Evening of Lynne Taylor-Corbett, February 7-24, 2013 (AJF)
- *The Rite of Spring, March 7-24, 2013 (AJF)
- Fancy Free & Carolina Jamboree, April 18-21, 2013, (RMA)
- Giselle, May 16-19, 2013 (RMA)
In 1999, at the start of Carolina Ballet’s second season, with no repertory of its own to pull from, Robert Weiss presented An Evening Direct from New York, focusing on work by choreographers all closely associated with New York City Ballet where Robert Weiss had been a principal dancer. Now fourteen years later, the company is in a far different place with 90 new works under its belt – 45 of which were created by Robert Weiss. It seems only fitting that the anniversary season should open with An Evening of Robert Weiss featuring his acclaimed Symposium choreographed in 2004 to Leonard Bernstein’s “Serenade.” When Weiss premiered this ballet the News & Observer wrote “Weiss ballet rivals master.” The review stated that “Symposium is one of Weiss’ best creations…lovely, moving and perfectly matched to the music.” Robert Weiss will also create a new ballet to premiere on this program.
*A Carolina Ballet season would not be complete without paying tribute to Robert Weiss’ mentor George Balanchine. Not only was Balanchine the founding artistic director and choreographer of New York City Ballet, he choreographed on Broadway and in Hollywood as well. Robert Weiss has chosen Who Cares? as the centerpiece for this Balanchine program, as it always proves to be a crowd pleaser, and the dancers particularly enjoy performing it. Balanchine had a long standing personal relationship with George and Ira Gershwin; Who Cares? is his homage to their work. According to Weiss, Balanchine challenged anyone leaving the theater after a performance of Who Cares? “not to be walking on air.” Other Balanchine favorites will round out the program, October 11-28, 2012.
The second half of the season opens February 2013 with an Evening of Lynne Taylor-Corbett, featuring several of her ballets created on Carolina Ballet and a ballet she choreographed on New York City Ballet in 1992. When Lynne Taylor-Corbett was named principal guest choreographer in 1999, the Herald-Sun wrote “to witness such a mind at work is a tremendous thing; that it is here, available to all, is nothing short of miraculous.” Her work never fails to satisfy and engage the audience; the diversity of her ballets ranges from Dracula to The Ugly Duckling to Carmina Burana. On this program, Carolina Ballet will reprise Code of Silence (“nothing short of a masterpiece,” News & Observer); December Songs, a song cycle of love songs by Maury Yeston, sung by Raleigh native Lauren Kennedy on stage with the dancers; and the Raleigh premiere of Mercury to music of Joseph Haydn, her first ballet created for New York City Ballet.
*An exciting addition to Carolina Ballet’s season is Christopher Stowell’s The Rite of Spring, March 7-24, 2013. This is a fairly new version of the ballet (choreographed in 2009) to Igor Stravinsky’s ground breaking music which premiered May 29, 1913 in Paris with Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe. Robert Weiss explains that after nine performances of the original ballet, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, it was never performed again. However, since then there have been at least 60 versions of The Rite of Spring choreographed and performed by many ballet companies world wide. Weiss says he has seen a number of the productions but has never been as impressed as he was after viewing Christopher Stowell’s ballet. He admits to being “blown away by the work’s exciting images, sustained power and incredible musicality.” Before completing the orchestral score, Stravinsky composed The Rite of Spring for two pianos, four-hands. The two-piano score will be performed live for Carolina Ballet’s production.
Christopher Stowell, who is the artistic director of Oregon Ballet Theatre in Portland Oregon, grew up in a ballet family – his parents, Francia Russell and Kent Stowell, were both dancers with New York City Ballet and then directors for many years of Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, Washington. After graduating from Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Christopher Stowell joined San Francisco Ballet where he was a principal dancer.
In April 2013, Carolina Ballet presents a program that offers a breath of fresh air for the spring season with the pairing of Jerome Robbins Fancy Free, and Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Carolina Jamboree accompanied by The Red Clay Ramblers. Fancy Free was choreographed by Jerome Robbins in 1948 on American Ballet Theater. It is a very American look at ballet using classical technique but in a very clever, jazzy way. The ballet was so popular that the following year it was made into a movie called “On the Town” with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. Carolina Jamboree with The Red Clay Ramblers is one of Carolina Ballet’s most popular programs with the dancers “strutting their stuff” from blues to blue grass to swing.
The 15th anniversary season will close with a “new” Giselle. As he did with his productions of Coppelia and Sleeping Beauty, Weiss will use the ballet’s original choreography, that of Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli, modifying it only when necessary for the size of his company. “If there were one ballet that would be considered by balletomanes to be more important than all the others it would be Giselle,” says Weiss. “There has been a running debate since ballet’s early history among critics, the audiences and practitioners of the art about whether ballet should tell a story or just be about the dance. Giselle (to the music of Adolphe Adam) combines both of these points of view into one of the greatest works in western civilization.” In 1972 dance critic Peter Williams reviewed Giselle at the Royal Ballet in London saying “Giselle is probably the most deceptive role in all classical dance since sheer dancing ability is not enough to make it work. The ballerina has to be totally convincing as a human and, later, as a supernatural being.”
Carolina Ballet’s “magical” Nutcracker will return next season over Thanksgiving weekend and December 14-23 at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. The company will also perform Nutcracker at DPAC in Durham, for two shows on December 27. After the opening of Carolina Ballet’s “new” Nutcracker earlier this season, the News & Observer wrote the “gasps after each eye-popping illusion, the applause for the handsome new sets and the rapt attention from all the children confirmed the changes were worth it.”
Subscription packages may be purchased now by calling the Carolina Ballet box office at 919 719-0900. A sales representative will assist patrons in putting together the package, with their preferred seating choices, that best fits their schedule. Subscribers also get the first opportunity to purchase Nutcracker tickets.
Carolina Ballet, Inc. has taken its place 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. This fourteenth season represents the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and ever-increasing quality of life experienced here in North Carolina.