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Carolina Ballet Announces 2015-16 Season

The "Firebird" company includes Richard Krusch and Elice McKinley (photo by Chris Walt Photography)

Shakespeare’s Works are Highlights of 18th Season

RALEIGH, NC — Carolina Ballet is pleased to announce the lineup of productions for the company’s eighteenth season, the second half of which will be devoted to commemorating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. The programs will be performed in either the A.J. Fletcher Theater (AJF) or Raleigh Memorial Auditorium (RMA) at the Duke Energy Center in downtown Raleigh; or in Durham at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC). There will be seven programs, comprised of new work and ballets from Carolina Ballet’s repertory, throughout the season; and the annual Nutcracker in December at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill, in Durham (DPAC) and Raleigh (RMA). The schedule of productions is as follows:

The Planets (premiere) – September 24-27, 2015 (RMA)

Symphonie Fantastique (premiere) with A Dancerly Response – October 8-25 (AJF)

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 – November 19-22 (RMA)

Nutcracker – December 5 & 6 (Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill)

December 12 & 13 (DPAC

December 18-27 (RMA)

Love Speaks – February 4-21, 2016 (AJF)

Tempest Fantasy – March 3-20, (AJF)

Macbeth (premiere) – April 14-17, (RMA)

April 30 & May 1 (DPAC)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – May 12-15, (RMA)

The season opens with a series of programs choreographed to very well known and often requested classical music. The first program offers new choreography by artistic director Robert Weiss and Choreographer in Residence Zalman Raffael for Gustav Holst’s The Planets. There have been many danced productions to this symphonic music but Carolina Ballet’s production of this new ballet happens to fall within the hundred year anniversary of The Planets. In October Carolina Ballet will present new choreography to “Un Bal,” the second movement, of Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique, along with Robert Weiss’ A Dancerly Response to A Musical Offering composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1747 for Frederick II of Prussia. The News and Observer critic wrote about A Dancerly Response when it premiered in 2010, “The music’s 15 brief sections are gentle and contemplative, Weiss’ choreography reflecting every nuance and shift.”

The weekend before Thanksgiving week Carolina Ballet is bringing back Robert Weiss’ Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 which premiered to great critical acclaim in 2011. This is a huge ballet but it works, says the critic on Triangle Arts & Entertainment, “The joyous dancing to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 matched the intensity of the grand music….Through Weiss’ choreography more subtle aspects of the music are drawn to the front, so that a familiar piece of music is refreshed and new. Robert Weiss, possessed by the inspiration of a great composer, has created an epic ballet.” This program will include one or two other pieces from Carolina Ballet’s extensive repertory.

Following Carolina Ballet’s run of twenty Nutcracker performances throughout the Triangle during December, Robert Weiss will devote the final four productions of the season to William Shakespeare, in honor of the 400th anniversary of his death in April 1616. Shakespeare was a contemporary of Sir Walter Raleigh’s (1554-1618) so it seems even more meaningful that Carolina Ballet pay tribute to the Bard in Raleigh with several programs inspired by his plays and sonnets.

The centerpiece of the four Shakespeare productions will be a new full evening Macbeth (April 14-17, 2016) choreographed by artistic director Robert Weiss to a specially commissioned score by J. Mark Scearce, former head of the music department at North Carolina State University. Dr. Scearce has worked with Carolina Ballet on several occasions starting in 1999 when he created music for The Kreutzer Sonata to augment the scores of Beethoven and Janacek. He also composed the music for Guernica and The Song of the Dead on the Picasso program, and for Dracula and The Masque of the Red Death.

Prior to the new Macbeth Carolina Ballet will reprise Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Love Speaks (February 4-21) described as “a charming romantic romp for five couples” set to music of Vivaldi, Corelli and Purcell; and Tempest Fantasy (March 3-20) to the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winning score by Paul Moravec. Artistic director Robert Weiss calls Tempest Fantasy a dance meditation of Shakespeare’s dramatic play The Tempest featuring the well known characters of Caliban, Ariel, Prospero, Miranda and a violent ship wreck. Carolina Ballet will include several other shorter ballets from its repertory on these two programs.

The season will end with one of the most popular of Shakespeare’s comedies – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (May 12-15) choreographed by George Balanchine to the magnificent score of Felix Mendelssohn. This delightfully humorous and poignant ballet is full of Shakespeare’s colorful characters and many twists of fate. It is always a crowd pleaser.

As mentioned above, Carolina Ballet will present twenty Nutcracker performances in Chapel Hill at Memorial Hall December 5 & 6; in Durham at DPAC December 12 & 13; and at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium December 18-27. With the addition of a new illusion this past season, Carolina Ballet’s Nutcracker offers more surprises than ever as people disappear and reappear leaving audience members wondering how they did that. Carolina Ballet’s Nutcracker features live music for the popular Tchaikovsky score conducted by Alfred E. Sturgis. Patrons who purchase a 2015-2016 season subscription may purchase their Nutcracker tickets before they go on sale to the general public, ensuring the best seats in the house.

For subscription information, patrons are encouraged to call the Carolina Ballet Box Office at 919 719-0900. One may select a complete subscription of all seven programs, or a Carolina Ballet representative will put together a subscription package that includes the ballets of choice that best fits the schedule and budget of the individual subscriber.

Carolina Ballet, Inc. has rapidly 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. The upcoming eighteenth season represents the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and ever-increasing quality of life experienced here in North Carolina.

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