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American Ballet Theatre’s 75th anniversary

Posted on October 7, 2014

bakst sleeping princess square


bakst-sleeping-princess-squareAmerican Ballet Theatre (ABT) will mark its 75th anniversary with a 15-month celebration, including historic revivals, new works, a new documentary and a touring exhibition by the Library of Congress and an anniversary gala.

The company’s autumn season, which runs at New York’s David H Koch Theater from October 22 to November 2, 2014, evokes the company’s early years and its present, including Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free – his first ballet, created for the company in 1944, Antony Tudor’s 1936 ballet Jardin aux Lilas and works by living choreographers Liam Scarlett, Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon.

New works for the season will include Scarlett’s latest ballet, which has its world premiere on October 22, with music by Rachmaninoff, costumes by Scarlett and lighting by Brad Fields. Mark Morris will create a new work for autumn 2015.

The spring season will include works performed during the company’s first decade, such as Mikhail Fokine’s Les Sylphides, George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations (created for ABT in 1947), Tudor’s Pillar of Fire (created for ABT in 1942) and Agnes de Mille’s 1942 Rodeo, which had its ABT premiere in 1950.

The cornerstone of the anniversary year will be Ratmansky’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty, which has its world premiere at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California on March 3, 2015. A co-production with Teatro alla Scala, the new version will have designs by Richard Hudson, based on Léon Bakst’s 1921 designs for the Ballets Russes production of 1921.

On May 18, 2015, the company will hold an anniversary gala at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, featuring special guest appearances, film excerpts of historic performances and interviews with major figures in the dance world.

The anniversary will also be marked by a new documentary by filmmaker Ric Burns, to be presented on American Masters, PBS’ biography series highlighting arts and culture. The Library of Congress exhibition, American Ballet Theatre: Touring the Globe for 75 Years, is on view until January 24, 2015, at the Library of Congress’ James Madison Building, Washington, DC. It will travel to the Library of Congress/Ira Gershwin Gallery in Los Angeles, where it will be on view for six months.

Picture: Léon Bakst’s 1921 costume design for the King in The Sleeping Princess (as the Ballets Russes production was called. Dancing Times collection

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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