Choreographers get innovative with new and untried ballets

Published May 25, 2008 12:00 am
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The last time an outside choreographer created a new work on the Ballet West company was nine years ago, early in the tenure of former artistic director Jonas Kåge. The choreographic dry spell ends this week.

Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute places a high priority on the creation of new works on the company's dancers, as well as repeat performances of successful recent works, and making opportunities for dancers in the company to learn the art of choreography.

Swift ticket sales of this week's "Innovations" program indicate that area dance fans concur with Sklute's love of the new and untried; the extended run for "Innovations," a program of new and recent ballet choreography, is nearly sold out. Plans call for an expanded number of performances for next season's edition.

Here are the details of what this year's "Innovations" audiences will see, including the premieres of three 10-minute ballets by Ballet West dancers:

"Grand Synthesis" - Ballet West presents the world premiere of a ballet by Susan Shields, a rising star on the American choreographic scene, danced to music by post-minimalist Graham Fitkin. Other companies performing Shields' works include Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Washington Ballet, Richmond Ballet and American Repertory Ballet. She is an associate professor in the dance department of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

"Equinoxe" - This 1986 ballet choreographed for Pacific Ballet Theatre by James Canfield received its regional premiere by Ballet West in 2006. The work is also in the repertoires of Nevada Ballet Theatre, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Tulsa Ballet Theatre, among others. The one-act ballet, set to music of Jean Michel Jarre, is one of Canfield's most popular works.

"One" - Ballet West principal artist Christopher Ruud choreographed this pas de deux to Violin Sonata No. 1 by J.S. Bach. He describes his new ballet as an abstract representation of people meeting, joining and living a singular existence.

"Le Chant de la Terre" - Company artist Megan Furse set her ballet to piano music of French Impressionist Deodac de Severac, following a theme of celebration for loving, dancing and living.

"Yes, but how did you get there?" - Ballet West soloist Peggy Dolkas dedicates her ballet, about the experience of learning and understanding dance, to her first ballet teacher. It's set to music of DJ Robatroid.

- Celia R. Baker

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