Spring 2022 season at the Austin Ballet

The Spring Ballet Austin at the Long Center for the Performing Arts consists of a mix of comedy, contemporary and canonical ballets that range from artistic director Stephen Mills. Midsummer night’s dream (11-13 February), until Her stories (1-3.) With unique works by three choreographers, traditional Swan Lake (May 6-8).

Ballet Austin commissioned Mills to create his Midsummer night’s dream in 1998, before being the company’s artistic director. It was so popular with audiences that the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts brought the production to Washington, DC in 2002. Mills’s Midsummer night’s dream it premiered with fantastic scenes and costumes borrowed from Ballet West, Utah, and although the set design and costumes changed with the subsequent ballet rebuildings, Midsummer concludes this month’s performances with the original Ballet West designs. One big ticket, which will be different? “No dancer in the company has ever done that before,” Mills said.

Mills decided to bring Shakespeare’s playful comedy of prenuptial plots to the ballet scene more than 20 years ago because, as he said, “There is so little humor in ballet.”

“I think we’ve all been given a task [A Midsummer Night’s Dream] at high school. The story resonated with my personal sense of humor. Personally, I enjoy working on more grotesque scenes. “

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One of Mills’ favorite and spectator-favorite moments comes in the first act, when four young lovers experience a chain reaction of unintended consequences at the hands of the evil Puck, which leads them to chase each other through the forest. Mills felt he wanted to convey Shakespeare’s humor, but in a way that resonated with modern audiences. Mortals and fairies are playing on the stage and grotesques are woven into the agile dance.

Her stories gives the stage to three sought-after choreographers – Jennifer Hart, Amy Seiwert and Jennifer Archibald – each bringing their current view of classical ballet to the Long Center. Three ballets Her stories They were supposed to close the 2019-2020 Ballet Austin season, but then … well, you know what happened.

“COVID was my twentieth anniversary [as artistic director of] Austin Ballet, “said Mills. “It simply came to our notice then. I thought that if I extracted my own works and classical ballet repertoire as Nutcracker and Swan LakeThe choreography we performed over the last 20 years has been evenly divided between male and female choreographers. ”

This is important because the choreographic world has historically been dominated by men, especially classical ballet.

Jennifer Hart is no stranger to Ballet Austin or Austin in general. She is an employee of Ballet Austin Academy, has previously choreographed at Ballet Austin, and is the artistic director and co-founder of her own local company, Performa / Dance. Mills asked her to create a new ballet Her stories because: “She is so talented and considerate of the work she does. I thought it was time for her to do a new job for the company. ” Dream songsHart’s article is about “conscious and dream-thinking and the way these two things intersect.” Done in point with the music of the Italian composer, arranger and instrumentalist Lucy D’Albert Mills, he calls the work “really fresh and beautiful”.

Amy Seiwert, founder and artistic director of the San Francisco-based contemporary ballet ensemble Imagery, takes place Traveling alone at Ballet Austin, a work that premiered at the Colorado Ballet in 2012. Seiwert, a former dancer with the Smuin, LA Chamber and Sacramento Ballets, first met Mills in 2006 when she was selected to participate in the New American Talent Choreography Biennial in Ballet Austin. /Dance. When she was artistic director of the Sacramento Ballet from 2018 to 2020, she asked Mills to study his Settlement to the company, deepening their professional relationship.

He also danced in point, Traveling alone emphasizes a series of solos, duos and trios dominated by sweeping arm movements – seemingly large enough to hit the world – while slit costumes attract the eye vertically.

Jennifer Archibald will finally premiere a hitherto unnamed new work in her distinctive style, a mix of ballet and hip hop: “It’s a different voice,” Mills said. Archibald is the artistic director and founder of the Arch Dance Company and the first resident choreographer in the 40-year history of the Cincinnati Ballet. Although Mills saw her work, he asked her to create a choreography for Ballet Austin because he had never met her in person.

“He won’t know anyone,” Mills said. “She will have to respond to the dancers in front of her.” It will go into the process in a much more organic way, or I suppose in a more intuitive way. ”

The spring season ends with Mother’s Day weekend Swan Lake, the first ballet Mills had ever seen as a student. It is an extensive classic full of feather tutu, royal intrigues and dramatic scores, and requires, in addition to the main ensemble, the ballet dancers Austin II and the Butler Fellowship Program to revive it – a total of 45 dancers. It is one of the most famous ballets in the canon with “the most beautiful music ever written,” said Mills of Tchaikovsky’s score. With live accompaniment by the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Swan Lake is the one to scratch that purely classic itch. Mills said, “It’s a famous, famous classic.”

CLAIRE CHRISTINE SPERA

David Berry

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