The Kansas City Ballet is entering its 57th year and has announced the 2014-2015 season of ballets.
The programs cover the gamut of dance styles, and all are exciting. Three shows are full length or story ballets – narrative pieces created by a single choreographer with a plot and characters, that typically include fuller production values, full sets and scenery. Two shows during the season are “mixed repertory” – eclectic combinations of shorter pieces by different choreographers.
The season opens October 10 through 19 with ALICE (in Wonderland) from the creative minds of choreographer Septime Webre, composer Matthew Pierce, and Cirque du Soleil costume designer Liz Vandal. The ballet is a tour de force that the press has described as “big and glossy” and “crackling with energy and innovative movement.” The wacky production includes the familiar characters of the White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts, Cheshire Cat, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Mad Hatter and many more from the Lewis Carroll classic. ALICE features Kansas City Symphony playing the all-new score.
Kansas City Ballet’s holiday favorite The Nutcracker returns December 6-24 this year. For more than 40 years families throughout the Midwest have gotten their holiday season off to a warm start with the ballet’s production of Nutcracker. The production is one of the largest, most theatrically successful productions in the region, and this will be the fourth year it takes place in the magnificent Kauffman Center.
The ballet incorporates the company dancers, KCB II, the ballet’s second company, and more than 200 students from Kansas City Ballet School, and features Kansas City Symphony playing Tchaikovsky’s famous music. Devon Carney, artistic director of Kansas City Ballet, calls The Nutcracker, “An enchantment for all ages. It is truly is a joyous celebration of the holiday spirit.” This year’s performances commemorate the 100th birthday of the creator of Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Todd Bolender.
New Moves, formerly known as “Dancers Making Dances,” will be presented in February 2015. Describing the program Carney explains, “New Moves is a chance for audiences to see up-and-coming choreographers. It is a very up-close and visceral experience for audience and dancer alike. Come see our Kansas City Ballet artists and emerging choreographers together discover bold new ways of expression and feel the athleticism, beauty, power and passion of never-before-seen new creations out on the edge!” Performances are February 6 through 14 at the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity.
To celebrate his second season in Kansas City, Devon Carney presents his production of Giselle, March 13-22, 2015. Giselle is known as the earliest and greatest romantic-era ballet, and premiered in 1841 to the music of Adolphe Adam.
The story centers on a young girl who is in love with a nobleman who disguises himself as a commoner. In an earlier interview Carney gave his vision of Giselle. “He misrepresents himself and breaks her heart. And then there is a metamorphosis within him – by getting to know Giselle, his heart changes. I grew up with a version of Giselle that I loved – Freddie Franklin’s. There’s definitely a Franklin connection to my Giselle. The most important thing in choreographing a classic ballet like Giselle is that the storyline stays consistent and that the characters have three-dimensionality,”
The final show of the season is Dances Daring (Then and Now), May 8-17, 2015. The mixed repertory program features classics by George Balanchine and Todd Bolender, plus two Kansas City premieres. Edwaard Liang’s Wunderland is a haunting, visually striking contemporary ballet, with ensembles and duets full of emotion and mystery. Emerging choreographer Amy Seiwert is gaining national renown for her remarkable work, and how she is expanding the definition of ballet. Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments is considered pure energy. Created in 1946, the ballet’s novel footwork and solos remain as fresh as ever. The season concludes with The Still Point, one of Bolender’s most revered ballets.
With 2014-15 announced, Carney took some time to look into the future. “It’s like being way in front of the bull rather than finding the horns. We are going to look at everything from the performances in the studio and to those on stage and I gravitate toward good works.”
While audience pleasers are an important part of his planning, an essential element of his vision is to make certain that new choreographers become part of the ongoing landscape of dance. “That’s the future. It’s where the art form is going. The balance has to be a mix of the masterpieces, those classic full lengths, with the new works.”
Kansas City Ballet
2014-15 Season at a Glance
To see more information visit kcballet.org
ALICE (in wonderland)
October 10-19, 2014
December 6-24, 2014
February 6-14, 2015
At the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity
March 13-22, 2015
Dances Daring (Then and Now)
May 8-17, 2015
All performances at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts except as noted.