The National Ballet of Canada returns to the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts with two programmes, Rudolf Nureyev’s lavish The Sleeping Beauty and a mixed programme of works by William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián and Alexei Ratmansky.
January 30 – February 2
Rudolf Nureyev put The National Ballet of Canada on the map when he staged his own version of The Sleeping Beauty for the company in 1972. Showy and opulent, it set off an unprecedented period of international touring and acclaim for the young company and its dancers and it remains a jewel in the National Ballet repertoire today. Full of dazzling variations and set to Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable score, The Sleeping Beauty is a ballet lover’s dream.
King Florestan and his Queen attend the christening of their baby daughter, Princess Aurora, when they are interrupted by the evil fairy Carabosse. Angered that she was not invited to the christening, Carabosse tells the court that Princess Aurora will one day prick her finger and die. The gentle Lilac Fairy appears to amend the curse, promising that Aurora will not die but only fall asleep for a hundred years, until she is kissed by her prince.
Rudolf Nureyev trained in Leningrad (now St.Petersburg) before joining the Kirov Ballet, gradually distinguishing himself as one of the great male dancers of his generation. After defecting from the Soviet Union, he formed an historic partnership with Margot Fonteyn. He was Artistic Director of Paris Opéra Ballet from 1983 to 1989 and its Principal Choreographer until 1992.
The late 19th century Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky created some of the most popular works in the classical repertoire, particularly his three full-length scores for ballet: Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. His body of work includes full-length operas, multiple symphonies and concertos.
“NBC’s Sleeping Beauty remains among its most fully accomplished productions.” —Pointe Magazine
“ ★★★★/4 With such dancing this Beauty never slumbers.” —Toronto Star
“dazzling… the National Ballet glitters in this gem of a production.” —The Globe and Mail
January 28 – 29
William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is a compact, virtuosic short ballet. In just 11 minutes, five dancers in bright, monochrome costumes perform a cascade of brilliant footwork with the speed and accuracy that have made Forsythe’s reputation as an influential contemporary innovator. With no theme apart from performance itself, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude indulges in the sheer beauty of movement.
A ballet in one act, William Forsythe’s Approximate Sonata 2016 offers a series of pas de deux featuring unique variations on repeating themes. With clarity, joy and intention, Forsythe plays with the language of dance on a stage unmediated by props and sets, exploring the history and potentialities of classical technique. Approximate Sonata 2016 is a captivating example of Forsythe’s off-kilter style, set to a revised piano score from his long-time collaborator, Thom Willems.
Alexei Ratmansky’s Piano Concerto #1 is the third part of his Shostakovich Trilogy, which pays tribute to the embattled Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Each part evokes the drama of Shostakovich’s life under Stalinism as he struggled to reconcile his desire for artistic freedom with the demands of the state. Piano Concerto #1 contains some of the most abstract choreography in the trilogy and it stands alone as a work of great beauty and power.
Petite Mort is a dynamic short ballet from the acclaimed Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián. Playing on sexual innuendo in the phrase “petite mort” or “little death”, a cast of six male and six female dancers move and spar with another in beautiful and unexpected ways, sometimes using fencing foils in allusion to the sexual dual. This is a ballet of couplings, a witty exploration of sensuality that blends modern and classical sensibilities.
The Sleeping Beauty
Produced, originally staged and with additional choreography:
Rudolf Nureyev, after Marius Petipa
Karen Kain, C.C.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Set and Costume Design:
The Sleeping Beauty is made possible by generous contributions from Margaret Fleck & Jim Fleck, C.C., The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., Gretchen Ross and Nancy Pencer & Michael Benjamin.
The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude
Franz Schubert, Allegro Vivace from Symphony No. 9 in C-Major, D944
Set and Lighting Design:
Lead philanthropic support for The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is generously provided by Sandra Simpson, an anonymous friend of the National Ballet and The Estate of Douglas Gardner, with additional support from The Producers’ Circle.
Approximate Sonata 2016
Set and Lighting Design:
Piano Concerto #1
Lead philanthropic support for Piano Concerto #1 is provided by an anonymous friend of the National Ballet and The Producers’ Circle.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Jiří Kylián, Joop Caboort (Realisation)
The Producers’ Circle: Gail & Mark Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Inger Bartlett & Marshal Stearns, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, The Thor E. and Nicole Eaton Family Charitable Foundation, Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, Kevin & Roger Garland, Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, The William & Nona Heaslip Foundation, Anna McCowan-Johnson & Donald K. Johnson, O.C., Judy Korthals & Peter Irwin, Judith & Robert Lawrie, Mona & Harvey Levenstein, Jerry & Joan Lozinski, The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., Lynda & Jonas Prince, Susan Scace & Arthur Scace, C.M., Q.C., Gerald Sheff & Shanitha Kachan and Noreen Taylor, C.M. & David Staines, C.M., O.Ont.
For more information, and to purchase tickets, please visit The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts website.
This timeless story is magnificently brought to life by the National Ballet's dancers. They relish rich roles like these to connect with audiences, showcase their talents and push themselves to even greater heights.
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