Cincinnati Ballet plans a winning season

Cincinnati Ballet plans a winning season

By Jackie Demaline • Cincinnati Enquirer • March 13, 2011

For 2011-12, Cincinnati Ballet will stick with a formula that works - full-length classics, new work and recent premieres that have been hits for other ballet companies.

Season highlights include story ballets old and new - longtime favorite "Giselle" and the regional premiere of "Carmen," a dance version of the opera standard; a regional premiere of "Rite of Spring" by Cincinnati Ballet resident choreographer Adam Hougland; the annual New Works program and a new production of "The Nutcracker" for the holidays.

The Cincinnati Ballet 2011-12 season (at the Aronoff Center for the Arts unless otherwise noted):

New Works, Sept. 8-18, Cincinnati Ballet Center. An annual favorite for serious dance fans, in the past it's been a potpourri of as many as 10 dances. Next season the program will focus on four longer works, most with close ties to Cincinnati.

"I'm always asking, 'what do we need to do that will push us, pull us, challenge us, inspire us?'" said Ballet artistic director Victoria Morgan. "If the dancers are inspired, the audience is, too."

Heather Britt, regional director of the Ballet's Rhythm & Motion, returns for the third straight year for a work set to spoken word, collaborating with poet Tonya Matthews (Ja Hipster). Morgan calls Matthews' work "brave and a little scary." James Kudelka, former director of the National Ballet of Canada brings the 20-minute "Man in Black" to music by Johnny Cash.

Johanna Wilt, principal ballet mistress, celebrates 30 years with the company by creating a work set to the music of Cincinnati composer Rick Sowash. Hougland, whose "Firebird" will be on the mainstage next weekend, will create a new piece, which Morgan expects will be "quirky and refreshing - he likes unusual topics."

"Giselle," Oct. 28-30, Music Hall. A maiden goes mad after the aristocrat she has fallen in love with deceives her and joins a haunting band of virgins who have died for love. Cincinnati Symphony accompanies.

Frisch's Presents "The Nutcracker," Dec. 15-23. Morgan choreographs a new production of the holiday classic about a young girl who falls asleep after the family Christmas party and dreams of sugarplum fairies and a handsome prince.

The production features new sets, costumes, special effects and even more children, performing as partygoers, gymnasts, baby mice, snowflakes, chicks and more.

"Carmen,"Feb. 10-12. "I've been thinking about it for years, said Morgan. Italian choreographer Amedeo Amodio has created a contemporary ballet to George Bizet's throbbing score. Morgan calls it "sweeping and bold." Two men are obsessed with a fiery beauty. The Tulsa Ballet world premiere was highly praised.

"Rite of Spring" and "Vivace," March 16-17. Adam Hougland returns with his designer Marion Williams. Premiered by Louisville Ballet in 2009, their approach to the Igor Stravinsky score "expresses the dire consequences of turning one's back on nature. You have to bring your own story to it," Morgan said.

"Vivace," choreographed by Val Caniparoli, "is Balanchine-like," Morgan said. It's an elegant, non-narrative nod to ballet classicism set to Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 2 in B flat. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra accompanies.

"Princess and the Pea," April 27-29. Morgan choreographs to music by Carmon DeLeone. The fairytale ballet combines storytelling, dance and slapstick comedy as a young woman discovers, after a fitful night on a mountain of blankets, that she is a princess. Morgan said another family-friendly ballet will be added to the program.