Richmond Ballet News


September 8th, 2015


Studio One’s double-bill program will open the 2015-16 Season in Richmond


Richmond Ballet will open the 2015-16 season with nine performances of Studio One, featuring Jerome Robbins’ charismatic 1944 classic, Fancy Free, and a world premiere work from choreographer Val Caniparoli, running September 29 – October 4 at the Ballet’s downtown Studio Theatre. Mr. Caniparoli’s new work will mark his sixth original creation for Richmond Ballet, following such successes as Swipe, which the Company performed on its recent tour to China, Djangology, Violin and Bow Out.

Set to open the Company’s Studio One performances, Mr. Caniparoli’s world premiere work is set to music by French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau and will showcase costumes by Rebecca Baygents Turk. Mr. Caniparoli’s ballet already appears to carry his signature style, incorporating a highly malleable upper body, a unique port de bras, and a deft sense of musical timing and rhythm. However, Mr. Caniparoli’s new piece also demonstrates an elegant form of partner work that is generous, tender and, at times, filled with emotion that stems from gestures chosen by the dancers. The movement is airy and stretches around the bends in the music, much like the violin strings that set the musical tone. A departure from Swipe’s alluring sense of attack, this new work seems to pay tribute to the old-world sounds of Rameau’s “6 Concerts Transcrits en Sextuor” with a courtly reserve and lightness woven cleverly in between bursts of high-energy jumps and intricate footwork that also match the intricacies of the violin’s melody.

“I was really looking for Baroque music that had not been over-used,” said Mr. Caniparoli. “I reacquainted myself with these concerts from Rameau, and I really started loving the music. So I started there. But also, in working here a lot, I knew that this was a great place to experiment and that’s exactly what I want to do with the dancers in the room. I have tried not to come in with too many preconceived notions, and in fact, I figured out the music and the choreography alongside the dancers; it really formed itself hour by hour, day by day, with the dancers. ”

“The idea too is that it can be for eight dancers or it can be for 24 dancers on any given night. But the main core is the eight dancers, and what surrounds that on the perimeter is almost is like a texture, or ‘icing on the cake’. Even though it’s been a challenge, I like that it’s a ballet that can grow and rework itself, night by night,” he added.

“Val’s work is always surprising and always wonderful,” said Artistic Director Stoner Winslett. “But he has a very individualized interpretation of the classical lexicon, and his ballets feel very fresh. It’s ‘now’ ballet. That’s a really special gift that he has, to use the language of classical ballet in a way that speaks so strongly in 2015.”

Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free still remains one the most popular works in the American dance catalogue, even more than 70 IMG_1115edit1years since its creation, and will premiere in the Studio Theatre after its enthusiastic reception during the Company’s 30th Anniversary Celebration performances at the Carpenter Theatre in November of 2013.“When I first acquired Fancy Free, it was on the occasion of our 30th Anniversary program at the Carpenter Theatre,” explained Ms. Winslett. “It was wonderful there, paired with the Richmond Symphony, in the full-scale theatre. But at that time, I had the scenery built with a special plan, to, as soon as I could, bring it back in the Studio Theatre. In our Studio Theatre, I think audiences will feel as though they are almost sitting at that famous Oliver Smith bar, alongside our three sailors. In being so close to the stage, you’ll be able to see the priceless facial expressions that come with this particular style of performance, so essential to Robbins’ choreographed comedy; the sly or flirtatious glances between the three men and the two ladies are wonderfully funny and perfectly match the rhythm of the steps.”

Beloved for its humorous choreography and infused with an old-world Broadway energy, Fancy Free is set to jazzy music by Leonard Bernstein and tells the lively story of three sailors on shore-leave during wartime New York City. As the inspiration for the hit musical On The Town, and later the movie of the same name starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, Fancy Free singled Mr. Robbins’ arrival onto the New York choreographic stage, helping to cement a legacy that would reach masterful heights before his death in 1995. Richmond native Philip Neal, a former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and a répétiteur for The Robbins Rights Foundation, will return to Richmond once again to rehearse the Company ahead of the Sept. 29 opening night.

At the heart of this loveable work are three sailors, each dressed in simple midshipmen whites designed by Kermit Love, yet each with his distinct personality. The expertly choreographed camaraderie for the trio, and the fun-loving antics brought about by the notion of limited freedom, together cast Robbins’ sailors as both entertainers and jokesters of the finest sort, blissfully unaware of their own shortcomings, yet masters of movement. And for Richmond Ballet, the work’s leading roles provide a unique opportunity for the Company’s men. “We have very strong men in the Company right now,” added Ms. Winslett, “and they each have a very strong personality that distinguishes them from one another. Fancy Free is really an opportunity to showcase our men at their very best.”



WORLD PREMIERE  |  Choreography by Val Caniparoli  | Music by Jean-Philippe Rameau

FANCY FREE  |  Choreography by Jerome Robbins  |  Music by Leonard Bernstein


Tuesday, September 29, 6:30 pm (Choreographers’ Club)

Wednesday, September 30, 2:00 pm and 6:30 pm

Thursday, October 1, 6:30 pm

Friday, October 2, 6:30 pm

Saturday, October 3, 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm

Sunday, October 4, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm

Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre  |  407 E. Canal Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219


Tickets start at $20.00. Tickets available at, by calling 1.800.514.3849, or through the Richmond Ballet Box Office at 407 E. Canal Street.



The 2015-16 Studio Series is generously sponsored by

Studio One is also generously supported by

An Anonymous Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation

Richmond Ballet, The State Ballet of Virginia, receives support from the Virginia Commission for the Arts

and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 spotlight_sm_2    NEA-logo-color

Richmond Ballet also receives support from the Arts and Cultural Funding Consortium

(City of Richmond, Hanover County and Henrico County)

Top Photo: Fernando Sabino in Fancy Free by Jerome Robbins. Photo by Sarah Ferguson.

2nd Photo: Trevor Davis, Matthew Frain and Fernando Sabino in Fancy Free by Jerome Robbins. Photo by Sarah Ferguson.

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