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Remember "The Lottery," that creepy Shirley Jackson short story you read in high-school English lit class?
Now that classic tale will be told in ballet form in a new work by noted choreographer Val Caniparoli. The Ballet West world premiere is one of the highlights of what artistic director Adam Sklute terms a "spectacular" 2011-12 season.
In discussing the season, Sklute says audiences will be excited by Caniparoli's concept for an interactive ending for the short ballet. "Every night of the performance will be as much of a surprise to the dancers on the stage as it will to the audience," Sklute says. He wouldn't disclose the particulars, but anyone familiar with the story might hazard a guess.
Longtime Ballet West audience members will remember Caniparoli's work from his time as the company's resident choreographer. His first full-length work, 1994's "Lady of the Camellias," was co-produced by the Utah company and Ballet Florida. Another memorable work was his African-influenced and controversial "Lambarena," set to African music mixed with Bach melodies, which Ballet West performed in 1997.
Caniparoli has been playing with the concept for "The Lottery" for 10 or 15 years and working with Sklute to further develop the ballet for about four years. The production, set to a newly commissioned score by Robert Moran, should generate excitement locally, but also could be considered "a major event in world ballet," Sklute says.
The new season will also feature other Utah premieres inspired by literary classics, such as the season-opening "Dracula," set to music of Franz Liszt. "Seeing Ben Stevenson's 'Dracula' is like going through the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland," Sklute says.
In February, the company will dance "Don Quixote," Marius Petipa's classic, as restaged by Anna-Marie Holmes. Petipa choreographed "Quixote" several years before classics such as "Swan Lake" and "Sleeping Beauty."
The ballet features romance and humor, but also bullfighting, lush music and classic dance. "It's a classical spectacle, bright and joyous, and a great challenge for our artists, which they relish," Sklute says. "Every great ballet company should have a 'Swan Lake,' a 'Sleeping Beauty' and a 'Don Q.,' as we call it."
Sklute says dancers are most excited to tackle the work of contemporary choreographer Jiri Kylian's "Petite Mort," set to a Mozart concerto. "The dancers almost did back flips when I told them," he says. "This is one of the most wonderful things to dance in the world."
The work mixes contemporary movements with an exploration of the relationships and dynamics of Mozart's time. The first section features six men with rapier swords, which are incorporated into the dance in unusual ways, including balanced on the dancers' hands and feet, while the second section features female dancers costumed in hoop skirts, who perform six duets with male dancers. They are "exquisite duets," which Sklute describes as "sensual, dynamic and very liquid in their movements."
The overall season blends drama, classic dance and thought-provoking art, according to the company's chief promoter. "All of these things show the breadth and excitement of what Ballet West has to offer," Sklute says, "and will really give audiences a different experience every time they come to the ballet."
Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute announced the company's 2011-12 program.
Nov. 5 • "Gala," the company's annual one-night-only season preview.
Oct. 21-22, and 26-Nov. 1 • "Dracula," a Utah premiere, featuring Ben Stevenson's choreography, set to the music of Franz Liszt. It's a "wildly theatrical" ballet, featuring flying vampire brides in a complete white act mirroring that in "Swan Lake," Sklute says.
Dec. 2-28 • Willam Christensen's "The Nutcracker," with Dec. 30-31 performances of "The Nutty Nutcracker," a spoof on the holiday chestnut.
Feb. 10-11, and 14-18 • "Don Quixote," a Utah premiere of what Sklute calls a "bravura ballet" based on Cervantes' classic novel. The ballet is based on the original 1869 choreography by Marius Petipa, re-envisioned by Anna-Marie Holmes.
April 13-14, 18-21 • Shorts programs of two Utah premieres, George Balanchine's "Emeralds" and Jiri Kylian's "Petite Mort," set to a Mozart score, plus the world premiere of Val Caniparoli's "The Lottery," commissioned by Ballet West with new music by Robert Moran.
May 18-19, 23-26 • "Innovations," with three new pieces choreographed by Ballet West dancers, including an expanded version of Michael Bearden's "Descent." The concert will also feature the revival of Susan Shields' "Grand Synthesis," the first work performed at the first "Innovations" program in 2008.
Tickets • For season ticket information, call 801-869-6900 or visit http://www.balletwest.org.