Richmond Ballet News


June 21st, 2016


Upcoming season will be defined by a handful of new acquisitions and a return to New York City

Richmond Ballet is pleased to announce the line-up for the 2016-17 professional season. The exciting new season will begin in September, and will feature landmark works from the ballet world never-before presented in Richmond, along with three world premieres, the highly-anticipated return of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and much-loved favorites. The professional season also will conclude in May of 2017 with a tour to the acclaimed Joyce Theater in New York City for the first time since 2010.

Season highlights include Marius Petipa’s crystalline and pure ‘Kingdom of the Shades’ from the lavish, full-length classical ballet La Bayadère, George Balanchine’s sultry, one act ballet Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, and his wonderfully virtuosic Tarentella, all of which will take the stage in Richmond for the first time in the Company’s history; Salvatore Aiello’s Notturno will also be a first for the Company and for audiences here in Richmond. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, bright and delightfully witty, warms up the Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts Center during the wintery month of February and the beloved holiday classic The Nutcracker will also return to the Carpenter Theatre this December for 13 performances. Visiting choreographers are currently set to include the critically-acclaimed Melissa Barak and the international stand-out Katarzyna Skarpetowska; both women have worked with the Richmond Ballet dancers during the Company’s 2014 and 2015 New Works Festivals, respectively. Company dancer Matthew Frain has also been invited to create a fully-produced piece for his fellow Company members next April following the success of his work, Inventory, which premiered during the 2015 New Works Festival.

“We’re always thrilled to bring new ballets to the Richmond stage,” said Richmond Ballet Artistic Director Stoner Winslett. “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is so much fun – it’s a great mix of dance styles – with a story that is borrowed from the character-driven world of Broadway. It’s surely not to be missed! ‘Kingdom of the Shades’ is a stunning piece from the classical ballet canon, and its music by Ludwig Minkus, which will be played live by the Richmond Symphony, is beautiful and ethereal.  And of course, we’re always proud to offer choreographers a platform to develop commissioned works, created right here on our own Richmond Ballet dancers. Richmond Ballet has become a real incubator for choreographic talent. We can’t wait to welcome Melissa and Katarzyna back to Richmond, and we’re happy to support our very own Matthew Frain in another opportunity to explore his passion for creation.”

“The chance to present our work in the dance capital of the world, New York City, is a real honor,” Ms. Winslett continued. “Since our last visit to The Joyce Theater in 2010, Richmond Ballet has grown in ways that have allowed us to remain steadfast in our commitment to our mission while pushing the boundaries of what it means to be The State Ballet of Virginia. We have a growing body of new works that have now traveled around the world with us and we look forward to presenting our very special dancers, many of whom were trained right here, dancing works that were created on them, and have never been seen in New York City before. Our Richmond audiences have been instrumental in supporting our mission and our evolution, and we will work hard to represent you well in the Big Apple!”

Richmond Ballet is also pleased to announce a new collaboration with five of Richmond’s most well-known street artists, as artwork for the year will show the Company dancers becoming a part of some of the city’s most iconic murals. The partnership features the local muralists Ham and Dennis McNett as well as the talents of Meggs, Jacopo, and Lelo, with each mural representing one of the productions found within the season. Truly befitting the special relationship that the Richmond community holds with the Company’s beloved production of The Nutcracker, artwork for the holiday classic will feature characters from the show as well as drawings inspired by the original set renderings by Charles Caldwell.

Additional information about preview performances for the New York tour, as well as dates for the Company’s visit to The Joyce Theater, will be released at a later date.


Studio One  |  Sept. 20-25, 2016  |  Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre

 A World Premiere by Melissa Barak 

Fresh from completing a choreographic fellowship at New York University’s elite Center for Ballet and Arts, Melissa Barak returns to Richmond this coming season. Known to Studio Theatre audiences through Eos Chasma, an otherworldly, brooding ballet she created for the 2014 New Works Festival, this fall, Barak will begin work on a brand new, neo-classical ballet that explores dynamic partnering and choreographic patterns. While a dancer with the New York City Ballet, Barak became the youngest commissioned choreographer in the company’s distinguished history and, in her second work for Richmond Ballet, she seeks to collaborate with our versatile and highly-skilled dancers to create a distinct and striking new creation.

The Moor’s Pavane (Limón/Purcell)

José Limón’s undisputed masterpiece, The Moor’s Pavane, is a deep and passionate work that draws its inspiration from one of William Shakespeare’s darkest plays, Othello. Limon brilliantly translated Shakespeare’s tale of betrayal into elegant and picturesque choreography, as the dancers, cloaked in rich, Renaissance robes and gowns, give life to smoldering and dangerous desires. Though only four dancers occupy the stage, The Moor’s Pavane carries with it a sense of grandeur and reverence, a sense heightened by Henry Purcell’s Baroque-era composition that threads the storyline together, and places it in time.

Trio: Three Strikingly Different Ballets with Richmond Symphony

Nov. 4-6, 2016  |  Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts Center

‘Kingdom of the Shades’ from La Bayadère (Petipa/Minkus)

For the first time in its professional history, this fall, Richmond Ballet will present one of the most iconic scenes in the world of classical ballet, Marius Petipa’s mesmerizing ‘Kingdom of the Shades’ from the lavish, full-length ballet, La Bayadère. Excerpted from a tale of love and betrayal, and set within an exotic, spiritual world, cloaked in the cold hue of night, ‘Kingdom of the Shades’ features 24 dancers who step and breathe as one – a ghostly procession of ballerinas in shimmering white and diaphanous veils. With the rise and fall of their extensions, the Shades, or spirits, cast a hypnotic spell over audiences as the haunting music of Ludwig Minkus keeps time. With a stage bathed in crystalline whites and deep blues, the Shades suddenly part, like curtains, and reveal the story of two lovers who dance a romantic pas de deux in the gleam of the moonlight – a technical challenge and a visual treat for audiences – while individual Shades perform elegant variations, all brilliant showcases of the pure, classical style for which Petipa was known.

Lift The Fallen (Cong/Richter)

Ma Cong’s Lift The Fallen, a stunning tribute to his mother, will be presented for the first time with live orchestration at the Carpenter Theatre this year after thrilling audiences across China during the Company’s 2015 tour. With the heartfelt music of Max Richter, Lift The Fallen sings of souls that are broken, mended and ultimately, uplifted. Created in Richmond in 2014, Lift The Fallen quickly became a favorite among Richmonders, who fell in love with Mr. Cong’s evocative and beautifully relatable approach to both loss and recovery.

Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Balanchine/Rodgers & Kay, from On Your Toes)

Also gracing the Richmond Ballet stage for the first time, George Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is a sultry, boozy tale of jealousy, mobsters and the seamy underbelly of New York City. Originally created by George Balanchine for the Rodgers and Hart musical On Your Toes in 1936, the ballet brings two stories to life, as on-stage and off-stage drama collide in an explosion of jazz, tap, Broadway and ballet.

The Nutcracker (Winslett/Tchaikovsky)  |  Dec. 10-23, 2016  |  Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts Center

With Richmond Symphony

The Nutcracker shines brighter than ever with redesigned costumes, heavenly new scenery, and brand new characters that include an elegant Swan Sleigh, all added during the 2015 production of the Richmond Ballet holiday classic. The wonder and magic of the season are set to come alive once again with sugar plums, chocolates, marzipan, coffee and tea, a dancing bear, life-like dolls and sparkling flowers. From a battle beneath the branches of a mystical Christmas tree, to a winter white forest, and on to a far-off kingdom of delectable sweets, The Nutcracker has become a favorite holiday tradition for Richmond audiences, and with Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, this dazzling production is sure to complete every December.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Soleau/Mendelssohn)  |  Feb. 10-12, 2017  |  Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts Center

With Richmond Symphony

William Soleau’s delightful telling of Shakespeare’s popular tale of love, both lost and found, sprinkled with a clever brand of mischief, A Midsummer Night’s Dream returns this coming season to warm up the wintery month of February. Last presented in 2008, this unique collaboration between the Ballet, the Symphony, singers, and narrators, takes audiences on a journey through the mystical, woodland court of Tatiana and Oberon and the sumptuous and regal palaces of ancient Greece as the adventures of four sets of lovers become intertwined through a series of comical events and tricks set about by the infamous sprite, Puck.  Soleau’s classic and playful choreography will be brought to life as the entire Richmond Ballet Company joins together on the Carpenter Theatre’s historic stage. Paired with Felix Mendelssohn’s sparkling score, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a treat for all ages.

Studio Two  |  March 14-19, 2017  |  Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre

A World Premiere by Katarzyna Skarpetowska 

Recently named one of Dance Magazine‘s  ‘25 To Watch’ in 2016, Katarzyna Skarpetowska left Richmond audiences in awe with her work, Polaris, a cosmically-infused ballet that premiered as part of our 2015 New Works Festival. A well-travelled, New York-based choreographer, Skarpetowska’s contemporary style combines ballet and modern dance to create movements that are wonderfully original and organic in nature. Her choreography for the Parsons Dance Company recently graced the stage of the legendary Joyce Theater, and now, with a new, full-length project in Russia with Lar Lubavitch in the works, Skarpetowska has become one of the dance world’s highly sought-after artists. In returning to Richmond Ballet, Skarpetowska’s attention to the craft of choreography combined with her seamless movement style are certain to create another work that will leave our audiences amazed.

A Tribute (To Marcel Marceau and Bip) (Burn/Drigo)

Malcolm Burn’s delightfully darling tribute to legendary mime Marcel Marceau began as a short piece for the New Works Festival which was later fully-produced due to its popularity.  This season, this charming ballet returns to honor Marceau and his many faces.  Set to the music of Ricardo Drigo, Burn’s always studied and layered classical choreography takes on a comedic tone in Tribute, this light-hearted work for five dancers.

 Studio Three  |  April 4-9, 2017  |  Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre

A World Premiere by Matthew Frain

Richmond Ballet Company dancer Matthew Frain sent waves through the Richmond community when he partnered with D. Randall Blythe for his New Works Festival piece, Inventory, in 2015. This season, he’ll continue to show off his talent as a choreographer with a new, fully-produced ballet to help close the 2016-17 season at the Studio Theatre. With his own, unique contemporary style, Frain will once again use his insight as a Company member to play to his fellow dancers’ strengths and skills, combining for a work that is bound to create buzz.

Tarantella (Balanchine/ Gottschalk)

A dazzling display of technical skill, explosive jumps and furious footwork, George Balanchine’s short, but wonderfully virtuosic Tarantella will be presented for the first time ever on the Richmond Ballet stage this season. Inspired by traditional Italian folk dances, Mr. Balanchine’s 1964 pas de deux is as thrilling to watch as it is challenging to dance; the dancers are in constant rhythmic motion, working together at daring speeds to the music of New Orleans-born composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk. His composition, ‘Grand Tarentelle for Piano and Orchestra’ (1866), was a particular favorite of Mr. Balanchine’s, who was drawn to what he called the music’s “high spirits.” Complete with charming costumes, Tarantella is a true crowd-pleaser that celebrates the sheer athleticism and power of ballet.

Notturno (Aiello/Schubert)

Newly acquired from the varied repertory of choreographer Salvatore Aiello – who has been praised by Richmond audiences for his powerful rendition of The Rite of Spring Notturno uses languid movements of push and pull, and of ebb and flow, for this sensuous quartet for two couples. Set to Franz Schubert’s little-known, but romantic ‘Notturno in E-Flat Major for Piano, Violin and Violincello,’ played live on stage, this contemporary work creates both elegant and daring shapes with the human form, accentuated by the minimal, flesh-tone costuming.

2016-17 Full Season Sponsors

The 2016 – 2017 Studio Series is sponsored by Altria.

The Nutcracker is sponsored by Dominion, with additional major support from the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation.

Live Orchestration at Dominion Arts Center’s Carpenter Theatre is made possible by a grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

Richmond Ballet, The State Ballet of Virginia, receives support from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Richmond Ballet Choreographers’ Fund

Arts and Cultural Funding Consortium (City of Richmond, Hanover County and Henrico County)

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


Learn more about the muralists:

Jacopo,; Ham,; Meggs,; Lelo,; Dennis McNett,

The Moor’s Pavane. © The Limón Foundation, Inc.

Slaughter on Tenth Avenue and Tarantella. Choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust.

Featured Image: Company dancer Ira White becomes part of a mural by Richmond-based artist, Dennis McNett. Photography and Photo Illustration by Aliceblue. Design by Karnes Coffey Design.


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