American Repertory Ballet will present revivals and world premieres at venues across the state - from Mahwah to Princeton - February through May, 2014. The spring season features two performances of Artistic Director Douglas Martin’s acclaimed Romeo and Juliet, the world premiere of Douglas Martin’s Firebird and the company premiere of Kirk Peterson’s Afternoon of a Faun at McCarter Theatre, a world premiere choreographed by former Joffrey Ballet star Trinette Singleton, and American Repertory Ballet’s Diamond Gala - celebrating 60 years since the founding of the organization in 1954.
ARB’s spring season opens with two performances of Douglas Martin’s full-length Romeo and Juliet, which premiered to a full house at State Theatre in October 2013. The first performance is February 22, 2014 at 8:00pm at the Berrie Center for the Performing and Visual Arts at Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ. The second is March 8, 2014 at 8:00pm at The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, NJ.
Based on Shakespeare’s tragic story, and set to Prokofiev’s passionate score, the ballet features a company of 30 dancers, beautiful sets, and stunning costumes. Martin’s Romeo and Juliet was recently named one of The Star-Ledger dance critic Robert Johnson’s “Top Ten in Dance” for 2013. Johnson called the October premiere a “watershed” mark in ARB’s history. He said that the ballet “moved seamlessly from one episode to the next, hitting all the passionate high-notes in Prokofiev’s score. Though simply decorated, the production never failed to create a sense of place; and Martin’s handling of the boisterous crowd scenes — making the company appear larger than its actual size — revealed his canny professionalism.”
Jerry Hochman writes in CriticalDance Magazine that Martin’s Romeo and Juliet is “a small miracle: a choreographic rendering of the story that is both simply-told and compelling, that inspires [the] dancers to, and beyond, whatever technical limitations they may have, and that moves an audience that already knows the story just by what it sees on stage.” He also characterizes the production as “ambitious,” “emotionally and artistically fulfilling,” “exuberant and exciting to watch,” and “invit[ing] comparisons to other well-known productions,…including…that of Sir Kenneth MacMillan.” Marina Kennedy of Broadway World calls the production “an outstanding example of dance being perfectly adapted to dramatic interpretation, with the ARB dancers in full command of their art.”
On March 12, 2014, ARB will present the world premiere of Douglas Martin’s Firebird, set to Stravinsky’s score, at 7:30pm at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ. This ballet will share the program with Martin's Rite of Spring, also set to music by Stravinsky, and Kirk Peterson’s Afternoon of a Faun, set to Debussy's score. All of these ballets are inspired by the 20th-century works of Sergei Diaghilev's revolutionary Ballets Russes. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
As Tony Angarano, dance critic for The Courant who reviewed Hartford Ballet’s premiere of the work, Peterson’s Afternoon of a Faun “retains its setting of a Grecian idyll, but the characters, a faun that is half-human/half-beast and a flirtatious nymph, interact with more tender innocence than Nijinsky's originals, which caused a scandal at the 1912 premiere in Paris with their eroticism.” He goes on to say, “Peterson's movements seem like the natural expression of Debussy's heated music....a re-interpretation [with] stunning impact.”
Martin’s Rite of Spring transports the original libretto of Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps - a story based on pagan ritual and sacrifice - to a competitive 1960’s office environment. In response to its spring 2013 premiere, Robert Johnson described the work as, “Part sentimental tribute and part screwball comedy” which “avoids primitivist clichés and, in gender parity...manages to find a concept still radical enough to make audiences squirm.”As Hochman says of Martin’s Rite, “Mr. Martin’s choreography fills the stage...The steps...are to this viewer an indescribable potpourri that work together because they fit both Mr. Martin’s concept and the Stravinsky score...a tribute to Mr. Martin’s choreographic ability.”
Just as Martin infused Rite of Spring with a feminist statement, he layers a gender twist onto the classic Firebird libretto. In his version of this classic Russian folk tale, the namesake character will be portrayed by a male rather than a female dancer. Martin will tell the original story with new choreography and set design.
“It is a great challenge for any arts organizations to present original works,” says Martin. “I am committed to keeping great 20th century work alive by both continuing to perform those great works and by creating new versions and new takes on those themes. These Diaghilev-era ballets opened the west to eastern pageantry and lore. They introduced western audiences to the artist that would go on to define art in the 20th century. Exploring that history and expounding upon it is essential to the identity and personality of my work.”
On February 25, 2014 at 7:00pm at the Princeton Public Library, ARB will present “Behind the Music of the Ballets Russes: American Repertory Ballet talks Diaghilev, Debussy, and Stravinsky with Music Scholar Simon Morrison.” This special pre-performance insights lecture is free and open to the public and will take place in the library’s Community Room on the first floor. Through discussion between ARB Artistic Director Douglas Martin and foremost music scholar and Princeton University Professor Simon Morrison, "Behind the Music of the Ballets Russes" will provide a special insight into the music of some of the most iconic ballets premiered by Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, including those that have been re-imagined by Martin and Kirk Peterson.
On March 15, 2014, ARB will celebrate its annual gala - the organization’s signature fundraising event. This year, it is the Diamond Gala, celebrating the diamond anniversary - 60 years - of the organization (est. 1954). The evening will begin with a 6:00pm performance at the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, followed by a reception at 7:00pm, at the Heldrich Hotel, located across the street. The performance will feature dancing by the professional company, students of Princeton Ballet School, and DANCE POWER Scholars. This range of performers represents all branches of the organization - the professional company, the school, and the organization’s Access & Enrichment department. The Diamond Gala honorees are Covance and Lee and Joseph Herring, for their outstanding support of ARB's Nutcracker, and Princeton Ballet School faculty member Janell Byrne. Contact Director of Development Naomi Levecchia for details and sponsorship opportunities: email@example.com; 732-249-1254 x25.
The weekend following the gala, ARB will present Signature Duets: Dances of Daring and Devotion at Union County Performing Arts Center’s Hamilton Stage on March 21, 2014 at 7:00pm and March 22, 2014 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm. In his review of ARB’s Fall 2013 repertory program at Hamilton Stage, Patrick Kennedy of Broadway World praised the company’s dancing and the mixed-bill programming: “Performed at New Jersey's own Hamilton Stage-a small but sophisticated theatrical space-the ARB's new offerings are neatly fitted to a scaled-down format. Small format, but broad emotional resonance. For the most part, these are dances that give off reassuring warmth, let you get comfortable-then, when you least expect it, burst into fantastic heat and light.”
Signature Duets: Dances of Daring and Devotion will feature a world premiere by Trinette Singleton, former premier dancer of the Joffrey Ballet and choreographer of ARB repertory favorite Capriccios, ARB Resident Choreographer Mary Barton’s Fantasy Baroque, and Gerald Arpino’s Confetti. Marina Kennedy of Broadway World reviewed the premiere of Barton’s Fantasy Baroque this past fall, characterizing it as “light and lovely” and “fresh and fanciful.” Robert Johnson praised ARB’s original performance of Confetti, writing, “Trying to resist ‘Confetti’s’ charms ultimately proves futile. The dancers’ courage is exhilarating, and Arpino, its under-appreciated choreographer, wins a belated round of applause.”
On May 2, 2014, ARB will perform Our Town at 8:00pm at the Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick, NJ. Set to the majestic music of Aaron Copland, Our Town is a ballet by Philip Jerry based on Thornton Wilder’s classic play - a tale of love, loss and modern life. Jennifer Dunning for The New York Times says that the ballet “remains faithful to its source while translating it into vivid impressionistic physical terms.”
The following evening, on May 3, 2014 at 7:00pm, American Repertory Ballet will join Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, Cleo Mack Dance Project, tap dancer Maurice Chestnut, dancer Timothy Kochka, and dance artist Claire Porter on stage at New Jersey Performing Arts Center as part of the Jersey Moves! Festival of Dance. This annual performance festival brings together the best of the Garden State’s diverse dance companies. This May 3 performance is the second installment of a two-part showcase featuring excerpts from works that span the globe and dance genres. ARB will perform an excerpt from Douglas Martin’s Rite of Spring.
“I am looking forward to this spring season full of new works, new venues, and repertory favorites,” Martin says. “We have built such a strong roster of rotating repertoire including Arpino works, full-length ballets, and we are continuing on that strong path. I am really looking forward to seeing the dancers sink their teeth into Romeo and Juliet once more before we dive into the very ambitious Ballet Russes program at McCarter, and beyond. This is a very fertile time for the company. I'm eager to see the fruits of our labor on the stage.”
Plus Rite of Spring and Afternoon of a Faun
March 12, 2014 at 7:30pm
91 University Place
American Repertory Ballet presents an evening of ballets inspired by the 20th-century works of Sergei Diaghilev's revolutionary Ballets Russes. The ambitious program features: the premiere of Martin’s Firebird, set to a compelling score by Stravinsky, Martin's Rite of Spring, also set to music by Stravinsky, and Kirk Peterson’s Afternoon of a Faun, set to Debussy's provocative score.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works.
American Repertory Ballet's Diamond Gala
Celebrating 60 Years: 1954-2014
March 15, 2014
6:00pm performance at the Crossroads Theatre
7 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick, NJ
7:00pm reception at the Heldrich Hotel
10 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, NJ
Join us for a 6:00pm performance at the Crossroad Theatre in New Brunswick, followed by an elegant reception at 7:00pm, across the street, at the Heldrich Hotel.
The performance will feature dancing by the professional company, students of Princeton Ballet School, and DANCE POWER Scholars.
Gala honorees are Covance and Lee and Joseph Herring, for their outstanding support of ARB's Nutcracker, and Princeton Ballet School faculty member Janell Byrne.
Contact Director of Development Naomi Levecchia for details and sponsorship opportunities:firstname.lastname@example.org; 732-249-1254 x25
This evening of duets will feature Confetti, a virtuoso classical ballet in the spirit of the tarantella, Tears of the Moon, a “sensitive” and “passionate” work set to Beethoven, Fantasy Baroque, a “fresh and fanciful” baroque dance (Marina Kennedy, Broadway World), and a world premiere by Trinette Singleton.
“Trying to resist ‘Confetti’s’ charms ultimately proves futile," says Robert Johnson, dance critic for The Star-Ledger. "The dancers’ courage is exhilarating, and Arpino, its under-appreciated choreographer, wins a belated round of applause.” He has praised Peterson's ability to "[give] Giving sleek, modern form to romantic ideals."
May 2, 2014 at 7:00pm
7 Livingston Ave.
New Brunswick, NJ
Set to the majestic music of Aaron Copeland, Our Town is a ballet by Philip Jerry based on Thornton Wilder’s classic tale of love, loss and modern life.
The ballet “remains faithful to its source while translating it into vivid impressionistic physical terms.” – Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times
About American Repertory Ballet and Princeton Ballet School
American Repertory Ballet's mission is to bring the joy, beauty, artistry and discipline of classical and contemporary dance to New Jersey and nationwide audiences and to dance students through artistic and educational programs. The organization is comprised of: American Repertory Ballet, the preeminent contemporary ballet company in the state; Princeton Ballet School, one of the largest and most respected non-profit dance schools in the nation; and the Access and Enrichment initiatives, ranging from the long-running and acclaimed DANCE POWER program to the popular On Pointe series. The professional company is a classical and contemporary ballet company committed to presenting ballets from the 19th and 20th century alongside new and existing works by choreographers from today. Founded in 1963, the company is currently under the artistic leadership of Douglas Martin, former principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet. The company's rich history of repertory includes established masterpieces by distinguished American choreographers such as George Balanchine, Gerald Arpino, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp; cutting edge works by choreographers such as Val Caniparoli, Kirk Peterson, Dominique Dumais, Harrison McEldowney, Amy Seiwert, Susan Shields and Melissa Barak; and former Artistic Directors Dermot Burke, Marjorie Mussman, Septime Webre and Graham Lustig. ARB has been designated a "Major Arts Institution" by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts consistently for the past two decades, and has repeatedly been awarded a Citation of Excellence by the Council. ARB was voted People's Choice for Best Dance Company in 2008, 2011, and 2012.
Princeton Ballet School has gained a national reputation for its excellent dance training since its founding in 1954 by Audrée Estey. Princeton Ballet School currently enrolls approximately 1500 students annually from age three through adult and is directed by Mary Pat Robertson. Princeton Ballet School has studios in Cranbury, New Brunswick, and Princeton which are equipped with shock-absorbent floors, non- slip dance surfaces and pianos for live accompaniment. Many of Princeton Ballet School’s faculty members have performed professionally; others have attained graduate degrees in dance education and have won awards for their teaching. Students from the school have gone on to dance in professional ballet and contemporary dance companies in the US and abroad. Graduates have danced with such diverse organizations as the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Miami City Ballet, STREB, Momix, Complexions, Mark Morris Dance Company, Twyla Tharp Dance, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, New York Theatre Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Ballet Met Columbus, and American Repertory Ballet.