The Sarasota Ballet Celebrates Ballet History in 2014-2015 Season Finale
Honoring Vaslav Nijinsky, the Company pays tribute to The Ballets Russes
SARASOTA, FL (April 2, 2015) –The Sarasota Ballet ends the 2014-2015 Season with a retrospective paying tribute to The Ballets Russes and the famed male dancer, Vaslav Nijinsky. The program featuring Michel Fokine’s Les Sylphides and Petrushka as well as Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun runs May 1 through May 2 at the Sarasota Opera House and will accompany live music by the Sarasota Orchestra.
Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes became known as one of the most influential ballet companies of the 20th Century, featuring ground-breaking collaborations among choreographers, composers and artists. Known not only for the exquisite technique of its dancers, The Ballets Russes gave birth to artists like Anna Pavlova, Vaslav Nijinsky, George Balanchine, Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, Alexandre Benois, Leone Bakst and Coco Chanel.
Often described as a “romantic reverie,” Fokine’s Les Sylphides has no plot. In an era when a non-narrative ballet was a startling innovation, this makes Les Sylphides the first and definitive “mood ballet.” Michel Fokine described it as “the personification of a poetic vision.” The 1907 original cast included Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina and Alexandra Baldina as the soloists and Nijinsky as The Poet. Diaghilev always asserted that Les Sylphides was his favorite ballet, and it was considered a great honor to be cast in it. With music by Frédéric Chopin, Les Sylphides was a conscious homage to the mid-Nineteenth Century Romantic Ballet from which the great Russian tradition derived.
“In 1941, American Ballet Theatre commissioned an orchestration by Benjamin Britton of Chopin’s piano compositions,” said Director Iain Webb. “Until recently, it was thought to be lost but after ABTs revival in 2013, I’m delighted that we’ve been given permission to use this orchestration.”
L’après-midi d’un faune (Afternoon of a Faun) was choreographed by Nijinsky for The Ballets Russes and premiered in 1912. With music by Claude Debussy, the score and ballet were inspired by Stéphane Mallermé’s poem, “L’après-midi d’un faune,” and was originally staged to depict the dancers as part of a large tableau. Revived by Ann Hutchinson-Guest and Claudia Jeschke from Nijinsky’s own dance notation score, Afternoon of a Faun redefined ballet for the Twentieth Century, presenting dancers in bare feet, and rejected classical formalism with an overtly erotic subtext beneath its façade of Greek antiquity. Afternoon of a Faun is considered one of the first modern ballets and proved to be controversial during its time.
The tribute will end with Fokine’s Petrushka. This ballet tells the story of a Russian traditional puppet made of straw who comes to life and develops emotions. Created specifically for Nijinsky, it premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris on June 13, 1911 and evokes Richard Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk, fusing music, ballet, choreography and history in perfect balance. Hailed by the great 1930s ballet writer Arnold Haskell as ‘the most successful of all dance dramas,” Petrushka relies on the genius to engender collaboration between the great creative talents of Fokine (choreographer), Nijinsky (dancer) and Stravinsky (composer), who developed the score around the sufferings of the Petrushka: “the immortal and unhappy hero of every fair in all countries” (Stravinsky).
“Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes proved a groundbreaking period in dance history,” said Webb. “It brought together the greatest artists of the time. Although many have tried, even today no one has come close to what Diaghilev achieved.”
Performance Schedule and Ticket Information
A Tribute to The Ballets Russes – Honoring Vaslav Nijinsky
Sarasota Opera House
61 North Pineapple Avenue Sarasota, FL 34236
May 1, 2015 at 7:30 PM May 2, 2015 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM
Tickets to A Tribute to The Ballets Russes – Honoring Vaslav Nijinsky may be purchased online 24 hours a day, seven days a week with Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. Tickets start at $35. The Box Office can be contacted by calling 941.359.0099.
About The Sarasota Ballet
Since 1990 The Sarasota Ballet, the Gulf Coast of Florida’s only professional ballet company, has been enriching lives, captivating emotions and strengthening the community through the art of dance. Under the leadership of Director Iain Webb, the Company’s expanded repertoire includes works by world-renowned choreographers such as Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Christopher Bruce, Dame Ninette de Valois, Twyla Tharp, Antony Tudor, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, John Cranko, Hans van Manen, Andre Prokovsky, Dominic Walsh, Christopher Wheeldon and Matthew Bourne. Receiving national and international recognition for their diverse repertoire of rarely performed ballets, The Sarasota Ballet recently received rave reviews during the Sir Frederick Ashton Festival, which highlighted 14 of the famed choreographer’s ballets and divertissements in four days. Alastair Macaulay with The New York Times said the Festival was an “extraordinary level both of Mr. Webb’s ambition and his company’s level of achievement.”