New York City Center

New York City

March 30 – April 1, 2023

New York City Center

New York City

March 30 – April 1, 2023

The National Ballet of Canada will tour to New York City Center March 30 – April 1, 2023 for the first time in 15 years with an exciting mixed programme. The company will present the US premiere of Crystal Pite’s Angels’ Atlas with David Dawson’s Anima Animus and Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto.

Angels’ Atlas

Overview

Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite created Angels’ Atlas for The National Ballet of Canada in March 2020 to rapturous reviews. The ballet unfolds against a morphing wall of light that carries the illusion of depth and a sense of the natural world. Here, the dancing body becomes a sign of humanity’s impermanence and – equally – its vitality within a vast, unknowable world.

Set to original music by Owen Belton and choral pieces by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Morten Lauridsen, Angels’ Atlas is a profound new work from one of the world’s leading contemporary choreographers.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1The impetus for Angels’ Atlas came from Crystal Pite’s partner and set designer Jay Gower Taylor who worked with lighting designer Tom Visser to develop an analog method of manipulating reflective light to create complex, painterly images. 
     
  2. 2A quote from writer and critic Max Wyman about dance greatly inspired Pite: “No other artform speaks so directly about the fragile, temporary quality of life, or about the human instinct to transcend those bonds and aim for that perfect moment of self-realization.”
     
  3. 3Pite wanted Angels’ Atlas to evoke “a fierce pulse of life.” She achieves this in part through the score, which includes electronic music by her longtime collaborator Owen Belton featuring samples of clicking sounds, voices, bells and a heartbeat.
     
  4. 4Two ethereal choral works bookend Belton’s score: Tchaikovsky’s liturgical Hymn of the Cherubim and Morten Lauridsen’s contemporary work, O Magnum Mysterium. Pite chose vocal works in part because they are tied so irrevocably to the body.
     
  5. 5Angels’ Atlas won two Dora Mavor Moore Awards in 2020: Crystal Pite for Outstanding New Choreography and Jay Gower Taylor for Outstanding Achievement in Design.
Watch and Learn 

Angels’ Atlas View Gallery

The Choreographer

A former dancer with Ballet British Columbia and Ballett Frankfurt under William Forsythe, Crystal Pite is now a leading contemporary choreographer. She is Associate Choreographer of Nederlands Dans Theater, Associate Dance Artist of Canada’s National Arts Centre and Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells, London. Her company, Kidd Pivot, performs her original creations around the world. 

The Composers

Canadian composer Owen Belton incorporates a range of acoustic and electronic instruments in his music together with found or common sounds. His many scores for dance have been performed by Kidd Pivot, Ballett Frankfurt and Nederlands Dans Theater, among others. Belton also performs as a singer-songwriter with the band Lost Hombre.

Morten Lauridsen is an American composer of choral music, former Composer-in-Residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (1994 – 2001) and professor of composition at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. In 2007, he received the National Medal of Arts for “radiant choral works combining musical beauty, power and spiritual depth.”

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.

Read More

A Note from Crystal Pite

Five Things About Crystal Pite

Reviews

“Human yearning is evoked powerfully onstage… Crystal Pite has a gift for bringing out the very best in dancers.” — Toronto Star

“A glimpse into the infinite... Angels’ Atlas explores the human condition to rapturous choral music and ingenious lighting design.” — The Globe and Mail

“Pite has created another masterpiece.” —  Ludwig van Toronto

Anima Animus

Overview

British choreographer David Dawson created Anima Animus for San Francisco Ballet’s Unbound Festival of new work in 2018. An instant success, it has since toured throughout the US and to the UK. The ballet explores the fluid space between extremes and opposites and particularly Carl Jung’s gendering of the collective unconscious as anima and animus, which it disrupts. Anima Animus is a high-octane work favouring speed and precision that sets the dancers powering across the stage to Ezio Bosso’s Violin Concerto No. 1, music that is also filled with contrasts.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1Dawson is one of the world’s leading choreographers and he collaborates with top companies internationally. In 2005, he became the first British choreographer in history to create a new work for The Mariinsky Ballet, Reverence, which earned him the Golden Mask Award.
     
  2. 2Anima Animus features a cast of ten dancers in three movements that are linked by the idea of contrasts. For instance, technical virtuosity and lyrical poetry, humanity and architecture, the unity of the group and the power of the individual.
     
  3. 3About the ballet, Dawson has said: “I want each person to dance more like themselves than they ever have – we’re energy and carbon and atomic – we embody what life is all about.”
     
  4. 4The spare, black and white costumes were designed by Yumiko Takeshima, who is a former Principal Dancer with Dutch National Ballet. She has collaborated numerous times with Dawson and with William Forsythe and she has developed her own line of athletic wear.
     
  5. 5Award-winning Italian composer, conductor and piano soloist Ezio Bosso wrote music prolifically, including for film and ballet. His commissions for dance included New York City Ballet and the Bolshoi Theatre.
Watch and Learn 

Anima-Animus View Gallery

The Choreographer

David Dawson is Associate Artist at Dutch National Ballet, Associate Choreographer Semperoper Ballett and a prolific international dancemaker. David's work is in the repertories of many companies including Teatro alla Scalla, Mariinsky Ballet, The Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Royal Swedish Ballet. Among his works are full-length productions of Tristan + Isolde, Swan Lake and Giselle. Other significant works include Voices, The Four Seasons, Citizen Nowhere and A Million Kisses to My Skin. Among his many honours are the Prix Benois de la Danse, a Choo San Goh Award and the prestigious Golden Mask Award.

The Composer

Ezio Bosso was an Italian composer, conductor, pianist and double bass player. He performed with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and worked extensively in film and theatre, composing numerous operas, symphonies, concertos, quartets, piano trios and sonatas.

Reviews

Anima is [David Dawson’s] most hauntingly lovely work” – The New York Times 

Anima Animus is very impressive to watch – it’s amazing what dancers can do with their bodies at that speed” – San Francisco Chronicle 

“The result is a kinetic work with costumes in black and white mirror imaged for the two genders. The women have a romp with animus, roaring onto the stage throughout with arms stretched upwards and dominating the virtuoso lifts and spins.” – Critical Dance

Concerto

Overview

Dazzling ensemble work and a sun-kissed palette are hallmarks of Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto, his beloved abstract ballet in three movements. Created for Deutsche Oper Ballet in 1966, Concerto channels the exuberance and variation in Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, with the first and third movements serving as lively bookends to the quiet pas de deux of the second. A fresh and optimistic work from the one of the 20th century’s finest choreographers, Concerto was last performed by the National Ballet in 1990.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1Concerto features a different pair of soloists in each of its three movements, supported by additional couples and a large Corps de Ballet. MacMillan wanted to show the virtuosity of the Deutsche Oper Ballet and experiment with pattern and shape.
     
  2. 2MacMillan created the lyrical pas de deux of the second movement for legendary Canadian dancer Lynn Seymour and Rudolf Holz. He was inspired by Seymour’s process of warming up before rehearsal, some of which he incorporated in Concerto, with Seymour using her partner’s arm as a barre.
     
  3. 3The final movement was intended to show a duet but one of the dancers broke his foot just days before the premiere. Unable to find a replacement, MacMillan changed it to a solo for female dancer.
     
  4. 4Shostakovich composed his Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major in 1957 as a birthday gift for his teenage son Maxim, who used it to practice. Maxim played the work at his graduation from the Moscow Conservatory and went on to become a celebrated conductor.
     
  5. 5German designer Jürgen Rose created the richly toned costumes in orange, yellow and chestnut. Rose also designed the costumes for John Cranko’s Onegin and for Celia Franca’s 1964 staging of The Nutcracker for The National Ballet of Canada.
Watch and Learn

Concerto View Gallery

The Choreographer

Kenneth MacMillan was a leading choreographer of the 20th century. He was Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet from 1970 to 1977 and Principal Choreographer from 1977 to 1992. His ballets are renowned for their drama, character development and elegance, with major works including Romeo and Juliet, Manon and Mayerling. He was knighted in the UK in 1983.

The Composer

The brilliant Soviet-era composer Dmitri Shostakovich influenced 20th century music with his experimental scores for ballet, opera and film, his many symphonies, concerti and his classical chamber music. He often worked under government-imposed sanctions and endured devastating periods of censorship and criticism despite his success.

Reviews

“The dreamlike second section was as affecting as ever in the stillness and slow sweep of bodies with which the choreographer meets the piano's simple plangency.” — The New York Times

“MacMillan’s Concerto, set to Shostakovich’s piano concerto No. 2, is awash with vibrancy and colour as dancers in orange and lemon costumes leap in jetes across the stage with a synchronised grace.” — Morning Star

Credits

Angels’ Atlas

Choreography:
Crystal Pite

Original Music:
Owen Belton

Additional Music:
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Opus 41, No. 6: Cherubic Hymn
Morten Lauridsen, O Magnum Mysterium

Reflective Light Backdrop Concept:
Jay Gower Taylor

Reflective Light Backdrop Design:
Jay Gower Taylor and Tom Visser

Lighting Design:
Tom Visser

Costume Design:
Nancy Bryant

Assistant to the Choreographer:
Spencer Dickhaus

Premiere: The National Ballet of Canada, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, February 29, 2020

Produced and commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada.

A co-production of The National Ballet of Canada and Ballett Zürich.

Philanthropic support for Angels’ Atlas is generously provided by An Anonymous Donor, Rosamond Ivey, Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, The Producers’ Circle, The Volunteer Committee of The National Ballet of Canada and The Gail Hutchison Fund.

The Producers’ Circle: Gail & Mark Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Inger Bartlett & Marshal Stearns, Laura Dinner & Richard Rooney, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, The Thor E. and Nicole Eaton Family Charitable Foundation, Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, Kevin Garland & Roger Garland, C.M., Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, The William & Nona Heaslip Foundation, Anna McCowan Johnson & Donald K. Johnson, O.C., Judy Korthals & Peter Irwin, Mona & Harvey Levenstein, Jerry & Joan Lozinski, The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado, C.M. & Jim Pitblado, C.M., The Harry & Lillian Seymour Family Foundation, Gerald Sheff & Shanitha Kachan and The Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation.

Anima Animus

Choreography:
David Dawson

Staged by:
Rebecca Gladstone and Christiane Marchant

Music:
Ezio Bosso, Violin Concerto No. 1, Eso Concerto (2017)

Set Design:
John Otto

Costume Design:
Yumiko Takeshima

Lighting Design:
James F. Ingalls

World Premiere: San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco, California, April 21, 2018

The National Ballet of Canada Premiere: Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts, Toronto, March 3, 2023

Concerto

Choreography:
Kenneth MacMillan

Staged by:
Julie Lincoln

Music:
Dmitri Shostakovich, Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102 (1957)

Costume Design:
Jürgen Rose

Lighting Design:
John B. Read

World Premiere: Deutsche Opera Ballet, Berlin, Germany, November 30, 1966

The National Ballet of Canada Premiere: O’Keefe Centre (now Meridian Hall) Toronto, November 6, 1987

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