Richmond Ballet News

2015-16 Season Features “Romeo & Juliet”, as “Windows” Also Returns

May 12th, 2015

Stoner Winslett’s Own Work and Shakespeare’s Timeless Tale of Love and Hate Anchor New Season with Another Memorable Goodbye

Richmond Ballet is pleased to announce the line-up for the 2015-16 professional season. After returning from a four-city tour to China, the 2015-16 season will be marked by some of the most popular works in the repertory, complimented by three exciting world premieres. Artistic Director Stoner Winslett’s highly successful Windows will be presented on the Carpenter Theatre stage for the first time since 2000, anchoring another standout, full-length repertory program alongside the first of George Balanchine’s “black and white ballets,” The Four Temperaments, both set to live music by the Richmond Symphony in November. The Windows program will be the first installment of a three-show Carpenter Theatre residency that will also include the holiday classic, The Nutcracker – continuing its annual run with 13 shows before the Christmas holiday – before concluding in February with Malcolm Burn’s passionate and much-loved Romeo & Juliet for the Valentine’s Day weekend.

Jerome Robbins’ popular Fancy Free will also make a welcome return, appearing this September on the Studio Theatre stage, kicking off a three-part, Studio Theatre series that will once again offer both a collection of world premieres and Richmond Ballet favorites. San Francisco-based choreographer Val Caniparoli, the mind behind such successful works as previous Richmond Ballet commissions in Swipe and Bow Out, is slated to create his sixth original work for the Company this season; while Melissa Barak, who first worked with the Company during the 2014 New Works Festival, is also slated to set a new ballet in the spring of 2016. Closing the 2015-16 Studio Theatre Series, for the first time in the Ballet’s intimate, up-close venue, will be Salvatore Aiello’s immensely powerful The Rite of Spring, a primal interpretation of the 1913 groundbreaking ballet, which left audiences stunned in amazement at its Company premiere at Carpenter Theatre.

The Rite of Spring will be performed in honor of longtime company dancer, Lauren Fagone, who will be retiring at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season. Ms. Fagone will have been a member of the company for 14 seasons, including two as a member of the Company’s apprentice program (now Richmond Ballet II). Additional information on Ms. Fagone’s farewell will be disturbed throughout the 2015-16 season.

“After what will have been a whirlwind tour to China, and a 2014-15 season defined by expanding our international horizons, it will be wonderful to return to a new season with our favorite audience, which is right here in Richmond,” said Ms. Winslett. “Of course, we are thrilled to bring back works loved across the ballet world in Fancy Free and The Rite of Spring, but it is also very important to us to continue to support the creation of new works here within our own studio walls. I can’t wait for our audiences to see Val Caniparoli’s new work. We have been very successful with his pieces in the past, and with his in-depth knowledge of our company, I hope we will have another signature work to add to our repertory this season. We were also eager to invite Melissa Barak back to Richmond, having seen the arresting results of her 2014 New Works Festival piece, Eos Chasma. From the start, she had great chemistry with our dancers, and it was clear that she embraced the spirit of innovation and collaboration we look for when inviting choreographers to town.”

“I am very excited to see Windows back on the Carpenter Theatre stage as well,” continued Ms. Winslett. “We did the fourth section of Windows for the grand opening of the renovated Carpenter Theatre, but the entire ballet has not been seen there since 1999. People are always asking me for ‘that ballet with the beautiful globes’ and this will be their chance to see it! Then we’ll have Romeo & Juliet, one of our most requested full-length ballets. The chance to hear that Sergei Prokofiev score and to see Malcolm Burn’s moving choreography on Valentine’s weekend is too much to pass up.”

Single tickets will go on sale in early August. Tickets will be available at, by calling 1.800.514.3849, or through the Richmond Ballet Box Office at 407 E. Canal Street.



2015-16 Richmond Ballet Company Season:

Schedules for Richmond Ballet II’s regional tours and lecture-demonstration appearances will be released at a later date, as will information about Minds In Motion’s final performances in the spring of 2016, The School of Richmond Ballet’s year-end presentations, and youth performances for The Nutcracker (Richmond and Norfolk) and Romeo & Juliet.



FANCY FREE (Robbins/Bernstein)


September 29 – October 4, 2015  |  Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre

IMG_1540edit1As the inspiration for the hit movie On the Town, starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free still stands as one the most popular works in the American dance and musical theater catalogue. Fancy Free marked the first collaboration of many between Robbins and Leonard Bernstein, the legendary American composer, and tells the lively story of three sailors on shore-leave during wartime New York City. Famous for its jazzy, high-energy and humorous choreography, Fancy Free became an instant success after its premiere in 1944, helping to establish Robbins as a powerful force in the American dance world.

San Francisco-based choreographer Val Caniparoli is set to create his sixth original work for Richmond Ballet. Following the tremendous success of works such as Swipe – which the Company performed on both of its international tours – Caniparoli’s new work is sure to bear the hallmarks of his signature choreographic style, with touches of silky grace, an angular pulse, and a mix of precision and comfortable ease.


WINDOWS (Winslett/Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Blacher, Romeo with Variations on the Theme from Paganini’s 24th Caprice for Violin)

THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS (Balanchine/ Hindemith)

November 7-8, 2015  |  Carpenter Theatre  |  with Richmond Symphony

George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, an unrivaled modern masterpiece, still remains one of the defining works within the New York City Ballet repertory, even 70 years since its creation. The first of Mr. Balanchine’s sparse, “black and white ballets”, aptly named for the simple black and white practice clothes the dancers don on stage, was quickly recognized as a pivotal work when it premiered in 1946. Set to a commissioned score by Paul Hindemith, The Four Temperaments was instantly distinct: its finite precision, and its stark, neoclassical choreography, punctuated by jutting hips, flexed feet, sharp angles, and turned-in legs – all which became signatures of Mr. Balanchine’s work – signaled a changing tide in the world of ballet, both in America and abroad. Inspired by the medieval belief in the four psychological humors which in turn determine a person’s temperament, the ballet is comprised of four movements: “Melancholic”, “Sanguinic”, “Phlegmatic” and “Choleric”, each with its own tone, physicality and emotion. Together with Hindemith’s stirring music for piano and string orchestra, Mr. Balanchine’s architectural choreography for The Four Temperaments not only set the stage for a new era in American dance, but established the neoclassical style for which the New York City Ballet and the master himself came to be known.

WINDOWS CROPStoner Winslett’s Windows will celebrate its much-anticipated return to the Richmond stage this season. Adapted for the professional company in 1990 and again in 1999, Windows uses dance as a means to paint a beautifully-articulated vision of styles from the mid-nineteenth century to the turn of the 21st century. Such styles and rhythms, the true measure by which people lived, formed the essence of life and together defined a period, or ‘window’, in history. Ms. Winslett’s original work created three ‘windows’ that celebrate the style of the cultures in which ballet blossomed, peering first into the world the French Romantic movement with its softness and mysticism; then into the Russian imperial court with its rigid, sparkling classicism; and lastly into the world of 20th-century contemporary ballet, where sleek and angular athleticism set the standard of the stage. Each set to a piece of music written as variations on the same theme, Paganini’s 24th Caprice for Violin, the echoing musical leitmotif is the through-line that connects the generations.

The work’s fourth movement, added on the cusp of the millennium and composed from the same musical theme by Jonathan Romeo, sets a single pair from each era amid a large ensemble in constant motion, as if whirling with the passage of time. Accented with dazzling lighting, this final vignette looks not back, but forward, offering a vision of our own time that is layered with new challenges and cautious hopes. Windows has a hopeful charge for future generations that seeks to remind us of our heritage while urging us ever forward as we search for that which is new and significant in our time. Therein lays the promise of progress, the promise of potential.


THE NUTCRACKER (Winslett/Tchaikovsky)

ON TOUR: December 4-6, 2015  |  Chrysler Hall (Norfolk, Virginia)  |  with Virginia Symphony Orchestra

December 11-23, 2015  |  Carpenter Theatre  |  with Richmond Symphony

IMG_8775cropStoner Winslett’s The Nutcracker, heralded as “perfect” by The New York Times, returns to the Carpenter Theater to celebrate the holiday season! From the opening notes of Tchaikovsky’s famous overture, audiences are whisked into the warm, candlelit drawing room of the Silberhaus family, buzzing with celebrations of Christmas. To the delight of the family’s young daughter, Clara, Dr. Drosselmeyer, the mysterious toymaker, and his handsome nephew arrive with a special gift – a wooden nutcracker doll – that captures the girl’s imagination. As darkness falls, Dr. Drosselmeyer’s magic begins to work, setting in motion fantastical events that will fill Clara’s dreams: a battle beneath the branches of an enchanted Christmas tree, the transformation of the nutcracker doll into the young Nutcracker Prince, and a journey from a snow-covered forest to the far-off Kingdom of Sweets.  Join the Russian Bear, the Chinese Dragon and the Mouse King as they celebrate the magic of the holidays with Richmond Ballet!

Richmond Ballet also plans to take The Nutcracker on tour for a third year this season, traveling to Norfolk, Virginia’s Chrysler Hall for a four-show run of the holiday classic. Tickets for Richmond Ballet’s performances of The Nutcracker on tour can be purchased through, by visiting the Scope Box office, or by calling 1.800.982.2787.


ROMEO & JULIET (Burn/Prokofiev)

February 12-14, 2016  |  Carpenter Theatre  |  with Richmond Symphony

R&J CROPThe greatest love story ever told is brought to life through Malcolm Burn’s passionate choreography – originally created for The Royal New Zealand Ballet and brought into the Richmond Ballet repertory in 1995 – and Sergei Prokofiev’s soaring emotional score. William Shakespeare’s masterful play set in Verona, Italy is known the world over for the powerful duel between the overwhelming emotions that rule the human soul: love and hatred. Propelled by a series of events that ultimately consume the storyline’s two young lovers – Juliet Capulet and the son of her family’s sworn enemy, Romeo Montague – the bard’s tragic tale has proved fertile ground for artists of all trades for centuries, with popular renditions performed by ballet companies across the globe.

Shakespeare’s timeless words serve as the inspiration for the ballet’s choreography, woven together from the threads of eager youth, the ecstasy of a first love, the intensity of a violent hatred, the damaging rupture of broken family bonds and the wrenching heartbreak of loss. Colored by the richness of Prokofiev’s evocative and romantic score, this tale of young love destroyed by hate is sure to be a highlight of the 2015-16 season.



ECHOING PAST (Winslett/Mendelssohn-Hensel)


March 15-20, 2016  |  Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre

Stoner’s Winslett’s 1996 work Echoing Past takes its inspiration from the journey that is life. With lovely turn-of-the-century costumes – ladies don airy, feminine dresses while gentlemen sport ties and vests – Echoing Past follows a lead female dancer as she remembers important chapters in her past and draws strength from them to continue with the future, examining that which we can control, that which we cannot, and the strength that lies within our own selves. Set to the music of one of history’s rare but tremendously accomplished female composers, Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s Das Jahr (The Year) is the musical travel diary of a trip across Europe, with movements representing different months of the year; Ms. Winslett selected “June”, “November”, “December” and the postlude for her ninth original creation for Richmond Ballet.

IMG_7185edit2Following the success of her 2014 New Works Festival piece Eos Chasma, Melissa Barak is set to create a striking, new ballet for the Company this season. While a member of the New York City Ballet, Barak became the youngest commissioned choreographer in NYCB’s distinguished history, and now, she returns to Richmond to articulate a new, neo-classical vision for a work that explores dynamic partnering and choreographic patterns. With unrestricted access to the great versatility of the Richmond Ballet dancers, Barak plans to use the open and engaging studios at Richmond Ballet as a laboratory for innovative creation and collaboration.






THE RITE OF SPRING (Aiello/Stravinsky)


April 12-17, 2016  |  Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre

TROS CROPWith its pounding and electrifying score, and controversial storyline, The Rite of Spring – the groundbreaking collaboration between Vaslav Nijinsky and Igor Stravinsky – provoked riots in Paris when it originally premiered in 1913, shocking audiences with its modern atheistic, chilling finale and trembling sound, yet it would forever alter the course of music and dance history. Inspired by ancient Russian folklore, The Rite of Spring is a work of both dance and music that reckons with pagan cycles of renewal, tinged with sacrifice.

Salvatore Aiello’s earthy and primal rendering of the infamous ballet retains the essence of the original while inspiring utter abandon and release among the dancers who are transformed through the sound of Stravinsky’s rhythms and musical moods. After successes on the main stages of the Virginia Arts Festival and Carpenter Theatre in 2013, Richmond Ballet’s intimate Studio Theatre environment will inspire a new reading of the masterwork and its ritual, performed at the altar of rebirth.

The Ballet’s Studio Three performances will be a farewell to Lauren Fagone, one of Richmond Ballet’s most interesting, exotic and beloved dancers.

The Rite of Spring contains mature subject matter. Not recommended for young audiences.


Additional information about the new work to be added to final installment of the 2015-16 Studio Theatre series will be released at a later date.


Richmond Ballet 2015 – 2016 Studio Series is generously sponsored by Altria Group.

Richmond Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker is sponsored by Dominion Resources, with additional major support from the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation.

A grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation supports live orchestral accompaniment for select Richmond Ballet productions performed at Carpenter Theatre at Richmond CenterStage.

Richmond Ballet also receives support from the Arts and Cultural Funding Consortium (City of Richmond, Hanover County and Henrico County), the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Richmond Ballet Choreographers’ Fund.

The Crowne Plaza, Downtown Richmond is the official hotel of Richmond Ballet.

Romeo & Juliet and Windows Photo by Aaron Sutten.

Fancy Free, Nutcracker, Eos Chasma, and The Rite of Spring Photos by Sarah Ferguson.

The Four Temperaments. Choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust.

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