Ballet Arkansas closes out 40th season with FORTE

Presented by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Ballet Arkansas’ “Forte” celebrates the 2018/2019 season, with the return of our wildly popular collaboration with internationally acclaimed pianist, Dr. Drew Mays. This dynamic mixed repertory program is a refreshing mix of contemporary and classical dance that is the perfect season finale for the 40th anniversary season.

“Forte” features the iconic Swan Lake Act II, with music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by Marius Petipa, a prolific contemporary work by Tulsa Ballet’s resident choreographer Ma Cong, “Calling”, Balanchine’s famous “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux”, and a contemporary world premiere by Executive and Artistic Director, Michael Fothergill. Swan Lake Act II will be accompanied by Dr. Drew Mays, who won the Van Cliburn Foundation’s Fifth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs playing Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata and Liszt’s “Mephisto” Walz.

“We are thrilled to continue the Ballet Arkansas in Concert series, sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust, which pairs high profile works of classical and contemporary dance with musical accompaniment from world renowned musicians. This series brings works to the State of Arkansas not ever performed within the region, while also placing Ballet Arkansas on par with the repertoire of larger ballet companies on the national scale,” says Catherine Fothergill, Associate Artistic Director.

A brilliant finish to the 2018/19 40th Anniversary Season, Forte! offers the audience a new and rich experience, providing powerful artistic collaborations that will elevate the arts in our community. “Forte” premieres at UA Pulaski Tech CHARTS Theater on the weekend of May 3-5, 2019.

Public performances four main stage performances, Friday, May 3rd at 7:00 pm, Saturday, May 4th at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm, and Sunday, May 5th at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $15-35, and are available online at balletarkansas.org/tickets, http://charts.uaptc.edu/ballet-arkansas, or in person or over the phone at the UA-Pulaski Tech CHARTS Theater Box office (501) 812-2710. Discounted tickets are available at the box office or by calling (501)812-2387. Discounted ticket prices: Students ($20), senior citizen ($25), and children 12 and under ($15).

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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.

 

15 Highlights of 2015 – Ballet Arkansas performs the Balanchine-Gershwin “Who Cares?”

WhoCares-220x300Ballet Arkansas made Arkansas history in April 2015, when it became the first Arkansas-based dance company licensed to perform a work by George Balanchine.

It took place during Ballet Arkansas’ annual spring mixed repertory show.  The headlining piece, Who Cares?, was choreographed by the father of American ballet George Balanchine and is set to music of the incomparable George Gershwin.  “We at Ballet Arkansas are honored to be able to bring such a wonderful work to our state. This accomplishment speaks volumes for artistic and technical abilities of our twelve professional dancers” noted Artistic Director Michael Bearden. This piece was chosen for its fun, high-energy choreography and audience catching tunes that will delight fans of all dance styles.

The show also includes Hilary Wolfley’s expanded piece, Façade. Hilary, from Orem Utah, was the winner of our August 2014 Visions Choreographic Competition. Excerpts from the tragic tale and classical ballet Raymonda, choreographed by the Marius Petipa which was premiered January 19th, 1898, Maryinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg will be performed as well as the pas de deux from Lady of the Camellias by Val Caniparoli. Lady of the Camellias is set to the music of Chopin and is based on the 19th century French novel by Alexander Dumas. Former Hubbard Street Dance company member Greg Sample has choreographed a contemporary piece titled Rerouting which will round out the show’s line-up.

Ballet Arkansas is supported in part by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Ballet Arkansas headlines spring show with historic performance of Balanchine-Gershwin WHO CARES? this weekend

WhoCares-220x300Ballet Arkansas’ annual spring mixed repertory show will be performed April 17-19 at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. “This mixed repertory format gives us the ability to entertain and educate our audience with different styles of dance, from classical ballet to contemporary dance to ballet-meets-Broadway” says Karen Bassett, Executive Director.  “There is truly something for everyone in this show”.

The headlining piece, Who Cares?, was choreographed by the father of American ballet George Balanchine and is set to music of the incomparable George Gershwin.  “This will mark the first time an Arkansas based dance company has been licensed to perform a work choreographed by Mr. Balanchine. We at Ballet Arkansas are honored to be able to bring such a wonderful work to our state. This accomplishment speaks volumes for artistic and technical abilities of our twelve professional dancers” says Artistic Director Michael Bearden. This piece was chosen for its fun, high-energy choreography and audience catching tunes that will delight fans of all dance styles.

The show also includes Hilary Wolfley’s expanded piece, Façade. Hilary, from Orem Utah, was the winner of our August 2014 Visions Choreographic Competition. Excerpts from the tragic tale and classical ballet Raymonda, choreographed by the Marius Petipa which was premiered January 19th, 1898, Maryinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg will be performed as well as the pas de deux from Lady of the Camellias by Val Caniparoli. Lady of the Camellias is set to the music of Chopin and is based on the 19th century French novel by Alexander Dumas. Former Hubbard Street Dance company member Greg Sample has choreographed a contemporary piece titled Rerouting which will round out the show’s line-up.

Tickets to the public shows of Who Cares? are available on the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s website at therep.org or by calling (501) 378-0405.

Ballet Arkansas is supported in part by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

March of the Nutcracker

Ballet Arkansas continues the tradition of presenting The Nutcracker this weekend at Robinson Center Music Hall.

The title role is being essayed by Ballet Arkansas company trainee Jake Catlett while Michael Bearden, Ballet Arkansas’ artistic adviser, is a guest artist and dances the role of the Cavalier.  Alternating in the role of Clara are Lauren Frances Wood and Kathryn Latham.  Other roles are being danced by Leslie Dodge (Sugar Plum Fairy), Lauren McCarty Horak (Snow Queen),Toby Lewellen (Snow King),  Anna Maris (Frau Von Stahlbuam and Dew Drop Fairy), Sean Porter (Rat King), Stephen Stone (Drosselmeyer), Allison Wilson (Rat Queen) and Perry Young (Herr Von Stahlbaum, Mother Ginger).

The choreography for this production was created by a Jana Beard, Sydney Ippolito, Marius Petipa, Traci Presley, and Allison Wilson.  Geoffrey Robson, associate conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, will conduct musicians from the ASO in performing Tchaikovsky’s ballet score.  Tickets are available from the Arkansas Symphony box office at 666-1761 or http://www.arkansassymphony.org.