Little Rock Look Back: First Ballet Arkansas production of THE NUTCRACKER

Burton and Tuzer

One of the sure signs of the Christmas season is the return of The Nutcracker to ballet companies across America.  Though the Little Rock Civic Ballet had first presented this ballet in 1968, by the mid-1970s, it was no longer performing the complete ballet.

In 1978, the Little Rock Civic Ballet was reorganized and re-christened Ballet Arkansas.  That first year, it did not perform The Nutcracker.  But on December 11, 1979, the tradition returned as Ballet Arkansas presented its first production of The Nutcracker.  It was once again at Robinson Center Music Hall.

The production was directed and choreographed by Lorraine Cranford, Ballet Arkansas’ Artistic Director.  The music was provided by musicians from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor David Schimmell.  This was the first time in several years that the ballet had been accompanied by the ASO.

The guest artists were Anne Burton and Tanju Tuzer, both from Dallas.  The local dancers including David Twillie, Mirana, Peggy Howard, Carol Campbell, Jeffrey Stuart, Haven Cooper, Buddy Harris, Chris Clarke and Jeff Johns.

Tickets were $3.00 for the matinee. Evening performances ranged from $5 to $10 a person.

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40th Anniversary production of Ballet Arkansas’ THE NUTCRACKER this weekend!

Ballet Arkansas’ 40th Anniversary Nutcracker Spectacular takes the stage at the Robinson Performance Hall this December 6th – 9th , 2018 for four main stage performances and two student matinee performances. The largest holiday production in Central Arkansas, Ballet Arkansas’ Nutcracker has been a tradition in Little Rock for decades.

A two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker is a timeless story about a young girl’s journey into a magical land, The Land of the Sweets, on one winter’s eve.

Joining Ballet Arkansas’ fourteen professional dancers onstage is a community cast made up of over 200 children and adults, including local dancers, previous Ballet Arkansas dancers, Ballet Arkansas board members, and local celebrities.

The production is enhanced with live music provided by the talented musicians of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Geoffrey Robson, and the ethereal voices of the Mount St. Mary Academy Concert Belles or the Episcopal Collegiate Choirs,

“The Nutcracker is a beloved Holiday classic that families look forward to each year as a part of their traditions, and this year’s production features fully updated choreography, a handful of holiday surprises, and much more!” says Associate Artistic Director, Catherine Fothergill.

In 2017, Michael Fothergill, Executive and Artistic Director of the organization took steps to re-vitalize the choreography in the 2nd Act. This year, Ballet Arkansas have renovated the 1st Act, while maintaining some of the time honored and fan favorite traditions. This updated show celebrates the past, breathing new life into the organization’s most beloved holiday tradition.

For the 2nd year in a row, Ballet Arkansas will be live streaming the matinee performances at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Performances Friday, December 7, 7:00 pm, Saturday, December 8, 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm, and Sunday, December 9, 2:00pm.

This year’s performance includes an opportunity to purchase ‘sweet seats’ for $99 which includes the best seats in house and a special gift with purchase. Tickets range from $20-99 and are available by calling Celebrity Attractions Box Office at (501)-244- 8800 or by visiting Ticketmaster at https://www1.ticketmaster.com/event/1B0054BEE444598E.

LR Culture Vulture turns 7

The Little Rock Culture Vulture debuted on Saturday, October 1, 2011, to kick off Arts & Humanities Month.

The first feature was on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, which was kicking off its 2011-2012 season that evening.  The program consisted of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90, Rossini’s, Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers, Puccini’s Chrysanthemums and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.  In addition to the orchestra musicians, there was an organ on stage for this concert.

Since then, there have been 10,107 persons/places/things “tagged” in the blog.  This is the 3,773rd entry. (The symmetry to the number is purely coincidental–or is it?)  It has been viewed over 288,600 times, and over 400 readers have made comments.  It is apparently also a reference on Wikipedia.

The most popular pieces have been about Little Rock history and about people in Little Rock.

Rocking the Tonys: Baryshnikov at Robinson (part 2)

One of the presenters at Sunday’s 72nd Tony Awards is Mikhail Baryshnikov.  Twenty-nine years ago, he himself was a 1989 Tony nominee for Actor in a Play (for playing a man-turned-cockroach in an adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

In 1985, Baryshnikov returned to Little Rock to perform again at Robinson Center under the auspices of Ballet Arkansas.   He had performed here two years earlier, as well.

Among the dancers who joined him in the program was future Tony nominee Robert LaFosse.  He would be nominated for a 1989 Tony as well. But he was up for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.  Other dancers in the company were Cynthia Harvey, Susan Jaffe, Leslie Browne, Elaine Kudo, Cheryl Yeager, Amanda McKerrow, Deirdre Carberry, Bonnie Moore, Valerie Madonia, Ross Stretton, Peter Fonseca, Gil Boggs, John Gardner, and John Turjoman.

The company danced to pieces choreographed by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Marius Petipa, future Tony Award winner Twyla Tharp, Lisa de Ribere, and La Fosse.  The music composers included George Gershwin, Jacques Offenbach, Frederic Chopin, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Hector Berlioz, as well as composers who wrote songs for Frank Sinatra.

While Ballet Arkansas did not have any dancers perform during the evening, the organization presented it and was able to receive the proceeds which exceeded the expenses.  For several years in the 1980s, the Ballet would either commence or conclude their season with such an performance. In fact, the 1985 Baryshnikov program contained a promotion of a 1986 visit by Alvin Ailey’s dance company.

Whereas the 1983 Baryshnikov appearance had been sponsored by the Arkansas Democrat, this time, the rival Arkansas Gazette was the sponsor.

 

Ballet Arkansas in Concert this weekened

In partnership with the Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Ballet Arkansas is excited to present a three – year concert series, Ballet Arkansas in Concert, which pairs high profile works of classical & contemporary dance with musical accompaniment from world renowned musicians in the Spring of each year.

On May 4th – 6th at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Ballet Arkansas and Van Cliburn International Pianist Dr. Drew Mays take the stage for three stellar performances.

Featuring

  • Pas de deux from Agnes de Mille’s The Other

  • Christopher Wheeldon’s The American

  • Contemporary World Premiere by Artistic Director Michael Fothergill

In between pieces, Dr. Mays will present an engaging and stimulating discussion that highlights the lives of the composers, the finer points of their music, and our collaboration. After the completion of the dancing, Dr. Mays will continue to play a solo concert for Ballet Arkansas audiences to enjoy.

Performances are Friday, May 4 at 7:00pm, Saturday, May 5 at 7:00pm, and Sunday, May 6 at 2pm.  Tickets are $40 for adults, $25 for students/senior citizens.  Tickets are available at the discounted rate of $30 (25% discount) for a group of 5 or more.

PRESENTING SPONSOR
Stella Boyle Smith Trust

EDUCATION SPONSORS
Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield
Janna and David Knight
Marci and Stephen Warren

CONCERT D STEINWAY PROVIDED BY
Steinway Piano Gallery Little Rock

DanceWorks today from 10a-4p at Ballet Arkansas

BallArk DanceWorks2018Ballet Arkansas presents DanceWorks today from 10am to 4pm at the studio on Main Street.

DanceWorks is a free event that celebrates the impact of dance and the arts in the Little Rock community.

Join them for open dance classes in a variety of disciplines, stop in for an open rehearsal and chat with the Artistic Directors, and enjoy a preview of Ballet Arkansas In Concert: With Drew Mays and a new work by Company Artist Paul Tillman to conclude the event. Visit balletarkansas.org to learn more!

  • Open Dance Classes 10 am- 3 pm
  • Open Rehearsal and Informal Chat with the Artistic Directors 3-4pm
  • LIVE Performance 3:30pm!

*Colonial Wine & Spirits will be generously providing celebratory libations at the performance preview!

The Toes Will Go On

Ballet ArkansasAs previously scheduled, Ballet Arkansas will present its “Ballet Arkansas in Concert” the weekend of May 4 through 6 at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

Though the Rep is suspending operations effective immediately, that is not altering the Ballet’s planned performances.

Join Ballet Arkansas as they present paramount works by international choreographers, excerpts from beloved classics, and a collaboration with world renowned Van Cliburn award winning pianist, Dr. Drew Mays. 

Featuring works by TONY AWARD winner Agnes de Mille, TONY AWARD winner Christopher Wheeldon, and Michael Fothergill’s WORLD PREMIERE

Tickets for the Ballet are still available for purchase on the Rep’s website.

And don’t forget Ballet Arkansas presents DanceWorks this Saturday from 10am to 4pm at the studio on Main Street.

DanceWorks is a free event that celebrates the impact of dance and the arts in the Little Rock community. Join them for open dance classes in a variety of disciplines, stop in for an open rehearsal and chat with the Artistic Directors, and enjoy a preview of Ballet Arkansas In Concert: With Drew Mays and a new work by Company Artist Paul Tillman to conclude the event. Visit balletarkansas.org to learn more!

Open Dance Classes 10 am- 3 pm
Open Rehearsal and Informal Chat with the Artistic Directors 3-4pm
LIVE Performance 3:30pm!
*Colonial Wine & Spirits will be generously providing celebratory libations at the performance preview!