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Premieres and prestige as Ballet West hosts first National Choreographic Festival

Published May 16, 2017 11:04 am

National Choreographic Festival • The inaugural event will bring four leading companies to town over the next two weekends.
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Ballet West opens its first-ever National Choreographic Festival this month with a bang. Over the next two weekends, Ballet West will play host to four top-tier U.S. ballet companies, presenting dance for the first time on the main stage at Salt Lake City's new downtown Eccles Theater.

"Each company has a unique flavor," Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute said. "Seeing them sequentially in one theater highlights their similarities and differences, and offers our local audiences the greater picture of ballet in America."

The four companies — Sarasota Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Oregon Ballet Theatre — will be split into two weekends, with Ballet West performing a world premiere on each program. Pre-curtain talks by Sklute and the guest-company artistic directors promise to be particularly lively and informative due to their long histories with each other and ballet.

The first weekend, May 19-20, Sarasota Ballet will perform Ricardo Graziano's "In a State of Weightlessness," premiered in 2015 at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, and Pennsylvania Ballet is bringing "The Accidental," a contemporary ballet choreographed by Trey McIntyre in 2014. All the ballets at the festival have never been toured, giving Salt Lake audiences the first glimpse outside the company home cities.

Also the first weekend, Ballet West will perform resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte's world premiere "A Fox on the Doorstep." Fonte said the title alludes to a real-life experience that compels him to more deeply investigate spiritual and emotional realms through choreography.

"I'm on a crusade to rediscover humanity in contemporary ballet," he said. "I'm tired of the emotionally detached pas de deux, the relentless thrashing, nonmelodic music and black socks," the latter referring to a fad inspired by famed choreographer William Forsythe in the 1980s.

The second weekend May 26-27 features Seattle's Pacific Northwest Ballet, recognized among the top five ballet companies in the nation. PNB is bringing "Before After," choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, one of the most sought-after female choreographers working today.

Oregon Ballet Theatre, based in Portland, will present "Terra," a new creation from another very busy woman choreographer, Helen Pickett, whose work for Ballet West includes "Games" (2015) and "Never Doubt I Love" (2010). Sklute predicts that next year, the festival will showcase all women choreographers.

On the final weekend, Ballet West will premiere Val Caniparoli's "Dances for Lou," choreographed to Lou Harrison's Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra. Harrison's intellectual and innovative musical constructs have inspired such acclaimed dancemakers as Trisha Brown (1958-2017) and Mark Morris from the postmodern era forward.

Ballet West will also restage company dancer Oliver Oguma's "Tremor," first presented earlier this month at "Works From Within," where four Ballet West artists premiered works at Park City's Eccles Center for the Performing Arts. National Choreographic Festival

Ballet West will host four American ballet companies as part of this inaugural festival, with events at the Eccles Theater over two weekends celebrating new works, including world premieres by choreographers Nicolo Fonte and Val Caniparoli.

When • May 19-20 and 26-27, 7:30 p.m.; May 20 and 27, 2 p.m. For 30-minute talks by guest artistic directors, arrive an hour before curtain.

Where • Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main St., Salt Lake City

Tickets • $49.50; ArtTix outlets, 801-869-6920 or artsaltlake.org

Details • www.balletwest.org

Weekend No. 1 (May 19-20)

Sarasota Ballet • Presenting choreographer Richardo Graziano's "In a State of Weightlessness."

Pennsylvania Ballet • Presenting "THE ACCIDENTAL," a contemporary ballet choreographed by Trey McIntyre in 2014.

Ballet West • Presenting Resident Choreographer Fonte's fourth world premiere.

Weekend No. 2 (May 26-27)

Pacific Northwest Ballet • Staging Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's "Before After," a pas de deux created in 2002 for the Dutch National Ballet, about a relationship that is coming to an end.

Oregon Ballet Theatre • Presenting "Terra," a new work from choreographer Helen Pickett, set to an original score by American composer Jeff Beal of "House of Cards" fame, with inspiration from indigenous dances of the world, contemporary ballet and Joseph Campbell's work on myth and metaphor.

Ballet West • Presenting a world premiere by Caniparoli, whose "Dances for Lou" is inspired by Lou Harrison's Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra. Ballet West also will stage Oliver Oguma's "Tremor," a work inspired by the human body set to a score by Philip Glass.

Master classes • As part of the festival, master classes are open to advanced-level dancers, $40 per class, May 18, 20, 25 and 27. More information at https://balletwest.org/events/national-choreographic-festival-master-classes.

By the numbers

The inaugural festival is not only a worthy cultural endeavor, but like many arts initiatives in Utah, is a strategic investment in the economic development. The Utah State Legislature was confident enough in the reach of the festival to give Ballet West a one-time $100,000 appropriation. Here's the estimated economic impact of the event:

6 performances at the Eccles Theater

25 out-of-state performers

30 national media outlets

6,000 tickets sold

1,000 out-of-state visitors

5 world-class ballet companies —

Dancing with the pros

Several professional-level dance workshops are set this summer, including:

U. of U.'s Salt Dance Fest

Brings together influential dance artists Shinichi and Dana Iova-Koga, Joanna Kotze, Katie Scherman and Idan Shirabi, and esteemed Salt Lake City artists Molly Heller and Satu Hummasti for two weeks of moving, collaborating, dancemaking and the spirited exchange of ideas. Classes for experienced dancers; performances and discussions are open to the public.

When • June 5-16

Where • The Marriott Center for Dance, University of Utah campus

Details • www.dance.utah.edu/saltdancefest/

RDT Summerdance

A one-week intensive featuring internationally renowned José Limón master teachers Nina Watt and Alice Condodina.

When • June 26-30

Where • Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City

Details • http://rdtutah.org/summerdance

Ririe-Woodbury MOVE-IT Summer Intensives

Workshops in three groupings for professionals, teachers and young dancers.

When • July 25-Aug. 12; professionals (July 25-Aug. 4), teachers (July 31-Aug. 4) and young dancers (Aug. 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12)

Where • Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City

Details • www.ririewoodbury.com/education-outreach/workshops

artÉmotion Adult Ballet Summer Intensive

One-week intensive with professional faculty; classes include ballet, contemporary, pointe, jazz, modern, pilates, for advanced and beginners.

When • June 5-10

Where • Ballet West Eccles Quinney Ballet Center, Salt Lake City

Details • www.artemotion-summerintensive.org/adult-program/

Summer Immersion Workshop

In-depth training in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies, designed to enhance kinesthetic awareness and movement connectivity, hone observation and coaching skills, and come away with a "language" for movement.

When • June 19-23

Where • The Marriott Center for Dance, University of Utah campus

Details • http://imsmovement.com/workshops—classes.html






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