Ballet West has revamped its 1990-91 season, retrenching in some respects in order to more successfully highlight and finance its October 1991 engagement at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Ballet West is thus accepting its fourth invitation to perform at Kennedy Center - the only regional company to be so honored, said general manager Susan Barrell. "The Kennedy Center is one of the foremost showcases for the American performing arts, and it is a great honor for Ballet West and Utah to open the center's 1991-92 ballet season.""It will be a great thrill to have your beautiful company back on our Opera House stage. It should be an illustrious opening to the new ballet season," said Sheldon Schwartz, administrator of artistic programs at the center.
Accordingly, the scheduled Salt Lake premiere of "Lord Byron," originally set for February 1991, will be replaced by "The Sleeping Beauty," the Tchaikovsky ballet that was a hit when Ballet West danced at the Kennedy Center in 1986. "Romeo and Juliet" will conclude the 1990-91 season here in April.
"Lord Byron" is now scheduled to premiere in September 1991, highlighting a bon voyage festival that will showcase works to be presented at the Kennedy Center. The evening-length piece, created and directed by artistic director John Hart, has choreography by Raymond Van Mason and Bruce Caldwell of Ballet West, with music by Paul Reade and costumes by Judanna Lynn.
Also to be danced in Washington will be a new work, "The Age of Anxiety," to be created for Ballet West by the internationally distinguished choreographer, John Neumeier. The one-act dance, to be set to Leonard Bernstein's Second Symphony (subtitled "Age of Anxiety" and inspired by the W.H. Auden poem), will be financed by a Challenge III grant awarded to the Kennedy Center by the National Endowment for the Arts, to commission new American ballets for six of the country's finest companies.
Every aspect of the six new ballets must be created by Americans. After all six companies have appeared at the Kennedy Center, each company will be granted royalty rights to the other five ballets, to add to their repertories if they wish.
Completing the variety program at Kennedy will be "The Gilded Bat" by Peter Anastos, a 1989 company premiere, and Balanchine's "Divertimento No. 15," danced here last month on the company's opening program of the season.
Artistic director John Hart believes that "Lord Byron" will be the first full-length ballet produced by an American ballet company with a contemporary, original score composed specifically for the work. He's also pleased that the piece uses resident choreographers who convey the artistic philosophy of the company. There are now fewer than a dozen major full-length ballets in existence for classical ballet companies to perform, and "Lord Byron" will significantly expand this limited list, said Hart.
Ballet West thus buys valuable time to develop its Kennedy project both creatively and monetarily, and extends the period available for promotional and marketing opportunities. Cindy Elliot, director of marketing and public relations, hailed the tour as a "splendid occasion to spotlight Utah's unique support of the arts, on a national level."
Kenneth Hill, director of development, stressed close cooperation with the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce to use the Ballet West trip to enhance consideration of Utah issues by national government and legislative leaders.
Though ticket sales are up more than 20 percent over last year, Elliot stressed that additional donations and grant monies will be needed, even with a tightened budget.
Ballet West reaffirms its commitment to strengthen its financial position and remain prominent nationally. The company has cut administrative and technical staff, shortened its work season from 41 weeks to 38 weeks, and cut its promotional budget. Taped orchestration will be used for November's "Giselle," as a cost-saving measure.
"We're currently on target with our financial plans and endowment goals, in terms of year-to-date income," said Barrell. "But revenue for live music, at an annual cost of $300,000, needs to be generated over and above basic operational budget. Funding for live music for the remainder of this season is presently being pursued."