Richmond Ballet News

Studio One Offers a World Premiere and a 20th Century Masterpiece

September 6th, 2016


The Moor’s Pavane and Returning Choreographer Melissa Barak round out program for Studio One

September 20-25, 2016  |  BUY TICKETS 

Richmond Ballet is pleased to announce that the 2016-17 season will begin with Studio One, featuring a world premiere work from Los Angeles-based choreographer Melissa Barak and the José Limón classic, The Moor’s Pavane, September 20-25, 2016, at Richmond Ballet’s Studio Theatre. Studio One marks the first installment of the popular Studio Series, which will feature three world premieres in addition to two works new to the Richmond Ballet stage this season.

Known to Studio Theatre audiences through Eos Chasma, the otherworldly, brooding ballet she created for the 2014 New Works Festival, Ms. Barak now begins work on a brand new, neo-classical ballet inspired by surrealism and the dreams that twist and turn within the human mind. With her elegantly athletic choreographic style – so influenced by her time spent as a dancer at New York City Ballet – set to mix with a sweeping, theatrical score, Ms. Barak’s first fully-commissioned piece for Richmond Ballet will match the power of its music with a cast of 14 dancers that will work together to take audiences on a dreamlike journey. “I like this concept of a strange, dreamlike world. It is going to be an abstract ballet, with a surrealist approach,” said Ms. Barak. “It’s theatrical without being literal.”

Ahead of her arrival in Richmond, Ms. Barak searched collections of surrealist art both online and in museums in her native Los Angeles, collecting images that have informed the ballet’s choreography. Additionally, Ms. Barak found inspiration within her score, Michael Nyman’s ‘Double Concerto for Saxophone and Cello.’ “I love the music. It demanded some kind of story,” Ms. Barak added. “The first movement makes me think of sky and birds. The second movement made me think of sea creatures; each movement [has] a distinct quality to it.”

Although her new work will bear little resemblance to her 2014 Richmond Ballet commission, Ms. Barak was eager to recreate the positive and collaborative experience she shared with the Company dancers during her previous visit. “The dancers are so capable and so versatile, so of course it’s any choreographer’s dream to work with a company like this,” she explained. “I was very happy with the outcome when I was here before. It was a great process and I had a great time. Of course I wanted to come back and do it all over again.”

Joining Ms. Barak’s new work will be José Limón’s 1949 masterpiece, The Moor’s Pavane. “I am very excited to be able to have The Moor’s Pavane on our stage once again,” said Artistic Director Stoner Winslett. “The Moor’s Pavane is truly a modern classic, and it has been performed by both ballet and contemporary dance companies around the globe since its premiere.” A deep and passionate work loosely inspired by one of William Shakespeare’s darkest plays, Othello, Mr. Limón brilliantly translated the bard’s tale of betrayal into elegant and majestic 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 nobility, a sense heightened by Henry Purcell’s Baroque-era musical composition that threads the storyline together, and places it in time.

“It’s been over 15 years since we last presented this work in Richmond,” added Ms. Winslett, “and it is past time to see it again. It is so simple, yet so beautifully crafted that it brings an electricity and power that jumps off the stage. José Limón masterfully used the format of the Renaissance dance, the pavane, as a vehicle to explore of man’s most destructive character flaws – jealousy.”

Under the direction of visiting Limón technique répétiteur Jennifer Scanlon, the Richmond Ballet Company dancers have become absorbed in the ballet’s tragedy, telling a horrifying story through beauty in movement. “The work also fits so beautifully into our Studio Theatre space, as the proximity to the stage should really allow our audiences to be absorbed by the enveloping choreography,” said Ms. Winslett.


Studio One  |  September 20-25, 2016  |  BUY TICKETS
Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre  |  407 East Canal Street, Richmond, VA 23219

A World Premiere by Melissa Barak |  Music by Michael Nyman
The Moor’s Pavane  |  Choreography by José Limón  |  Music by Henry Purcell (Arrangement by Simon Sadoff)

Tuesday, September 20, 6:30pm (Choreographers’ Club)
Wednesday, September 21, 2:00pm & 6:30pm
Thursday, September 22, 6:30pm
Friday, September 23, 6:30pm
Saturday, September 24, 6:30pm and 8:30pm
Sunday, September 25, 2:00pm & 4:00pm

All tickets start at $20.00. Tickets are available through, by calling 1.800.514.3849 or by visiting the Richmond Ballet Box Office at 407 East Canal Street, Monday-Friday, 11:00am – 6:00pm.


Studio One Sponsors:


Richmond Ballet Choreographers’ Fund

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

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


Featured Image: Company dancers Valerie Tellmann-Henning and Kirk Henning become part of a mural by street artist, Jacopp. Photography and Photo Illustration by Aliceblue. Design by Karnes Coffey Design.
Learn more about Jacopo at

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



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