Ballet across America: Companies Come Together in DC for a New Festival

By Marshall, Lea | Dance Magazine, June 2008 | Go to article overview

Ballet across America: Companies Come Together in DC for a New Festival


Marshall, Lea, Dance Magazine


The idea of the Kennedy Center presenting a program of ballet companies from across the country makes so much sense that it's surprising it hasn't happened before. It seems the perfect venue for an overview of arts from around the nation. But it was just within the last year that the center received a grant specifically to create an "Arts Across America" program. According to Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser, this month's "Ballet Across America" is the pilot.

"Because we have such a large ballet program," says Kaiser, "I wanted a chance to showcase some of the companies that don't normally perform here." From June 10 to 15, nine ballet companies will perform works ranging from Balanchine's Serenade to Christopher Wheeldon's RUSH. By carefully planning a selection that represents both geographic and artistic diversity, Kaiser hopes that audiences will appreciate the high quality of dancing that exists in this country.

And how could they not, with Boston Ballet, Ballet West, Joffrey Ballet, and Houston Ballet on the bill, to name only a few? Some companies, such as Kansas City Ballet, will be making their Kennedy Center debut.

Oregon Ballet Theatre's artistic director Christopher Stowell, who had been wanting to add Wheeldon's work to OBT's repertoire, decided to bring RUSH, "a really exciting ballet with a large enough cast that it represents the whole company." OBT shares a program with Boston Ballet performing Jorma Elo's edgy Brake the Eyes and Joffrey Ballet performing Tudor's beloved Lilac Garden.

[ILLUSTRATIONS OMITTED]

William Whitener, artistic director of Kansas City Ballet, relishes the chance to reach a wider audience, especially since the company just had a satisfying debut in New York at the Joyce in March. Because, he says, many companies find touring challenging, Whitener particularly appreciates the Ballet Across America model: "I think all of us are looking for opportunities for our dancers to be seen in more venues, and this is a very positive step in that direction. …

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