Farewell performance of ballerina Kimberly Cowen
Kansas City Ballet’s inaugural season at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts concludes May 4–13 with Masters of American Dance presenting four choreographers whose work is not only recognized around the world but has special resonance for Kansas City Ballet – George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins and Todd Bolender.
Music Director Ramona Pansegrau will conduct the Kansas City Symphony.
All of these choreographers have a significant connection to New York City Ballet. Both Todd Bolender and William Whitener have introduced the works of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins into Kansas City Ballet’s repertory. Whitener adds, “Now we have the privilege to include a work by Peter Martins as we honor the contributions of these men.”
Serenade was the first ballet choreographed by George Balanchine when he arrived in America in 1935. While initially set on students of the young School of American Ballet, it has since become a signature work of New York City Ballet’s repertory and is the most frequently performed of Balanchine’s works throughout the world. The work is set to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C and is a masterwork of geometrical poetry.
Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun, premiered in 1953, is considered by many to be Robbins’ greatest ballet. The work, a pas de deux, is drawn from themes of an earlier work of the same name choreographed by the greatest dancer of his day, Vaslav Nijinsky. The ballet shocked Parisian sensibilities when it premiered in 1912. The Robbins’ version, set to the same score of Claude Debussy, is set in a conventional ballet studio with two dancers in rehearsal clothes. Following its premiere, Doris Hering of Dance Magazine wrote “Afternoon of a Faun is a work of great awareness and wry insight and one that shimmers with atmosphere from beginning to end.”
Les Gentilhommes, Peter Martins’ ballet for nine men, will mark the Kansas City debut of this choreographer’s work. Set to Händel’s Concerto Grosso, this work is a display of masculine, understated grace marked by an intricacy of steps and shifts of energy and direction, but leavened by quieter moments of reflection and repose. Mr. Martins, the current Ballet master in Chief of New York City Ballet has said of this work, “In Gentilhommes, I didn’t just want to make a big bravura piece, showing beats and double air turns, but showing how elegantly and beautifully men can move.”
A stylish, comic story ballet with six scenes, Todd Bolender’s Souvenirs was first presented by New York City Ballet in 1955. Bolender’s imaginative process began with the sound of Samuel Barber’s Suite, “Souvenirs,” originally written for one piano and four hands and later orchestrated by the composer. The music evokes America’s ‘Art Nouveau’ era, and led Bolender to create a humorous, fast moving tribute to silent film stars Gloria Swanson, Charlie Chaplin and Theda Bara (“The Vamp”). Set in an elegant seaside hotel in the early part of the twentieth century, the comic encounters, corridor and bedroom vignettes, and rapid-fire resolutions of the beach scene make Souvenirs a loving tribute to dancers and silent movies. “It’s about a point of view,” the choreographer said during rehearsals. “I wanted to convey the wonderful simplicity of silent film acting, to get the point across with movement.”
Kimberly Cowen, who has announced her retirement after 20 years with Kansas City Ballet, will dance in every performance of Serenade and in the cast of Souvenirs on both Fridays and the final Sunday.
Masters of American Dance
May 4-13, 2012 | Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts | Music performed by Kansas City Symphony
Presenting four choreographers who have had an enormous impact in the world of dance.
Choreography: George Balanchine Music: Peter I. Tchaikovsky
Afternoon of a Faun
Choreography: Jerome Robbins
Music: Claude Debussy
Choreography: Peter Martins
Music: Georg Friedrich Händel
Choreography: Todd Bolender
Music: Samuel Barber
Fri., May 11
Sat., May 12
Sun., May 13
Tickets are available by calling the Ballet Box Office at 816-931-2232 or online at www.kcballet.org where patrons may “select their own seats.”
Serenade is underwritten by the Todd Bolender Fund for Dance Performance. Souvenirs is supported in part by the Estelle S. and Robert A. Long Ellis Foundation. Les Gentilhommes is supported in part by the Metropolitan Performing Arts Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Kansas City Ballet’s 2011-2012 season is supported by the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation, the Missouri Arts Council—a state agency, and Hotel Phillips—host hotel of Kansas City Ballet.