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Pinocchio Comes to Life

On March 11, a beloved wooden puppet will become a real boy when National Ballet of Canada premieres Will Tuckett’s Pinocchio. “Pinocchio inhabits a world of movement,” says Tuckett, an independent choreographer and guest principal character artist with The Royal Ballet. NBoC first soloist Skylar Campbell, who is originating the role of Pinocchio, says that Tuckett has allowed the dancers to find quirkiness. “You have to move distinctly rather than robotically,” he says.

The ballet is designed by Colin Richmond, with a score by Paul Englishby and projection by Douglas O’Connell. The story hews close to the original 19th-century version by Italian writer Carlo Collodi. “There’s a darker element,” says Campbell. Questions of belonging will remain, though. “Geppetto is a single parent,” says Tuckett, “and I love that Pinocchio doesn’t need a conventional family to become real.” —NLG

Alexei Ratmansky rehearses The Fairy's Kiss with Miami City Ballet dancers. (Photo by Daniel Azoulay, courtesy Miami City Ballet)

Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky will have world premieres on two coasts this winter. On February 10, Miami City Ballet will debut his new one-act version of The Fairy's Kiss to Stravinsky's celebrated score, a homage to Tchaikovsky. The following month, on March 15, at California's Segerstrom Center for the Arts, American Ballet Theatre will premiere his Whipped Cream, a new full-length story ballet to a Richard Strauss libretto and score.

Ratmansky has often looked to ballet history for inspiration. Fairy's Kiss, known as Le Baiser de la Fée when it was originally choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska in 1928, has been staged by Sir Frederick Ashton and Sir Kenneth MacMillan, and several times by Balanchine. Its story comes from The Ice-Maiden, a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, and Ratmansky has kept the narrative. A young man, about to be married, is bewitched by a fairy's kiss and stolen away from the mortal world. “I asked Alexei for a narrative work, possibly one with a Russian flavor to it," says MCB artistic director Lourdes Lopez. “Our dancers have a very strong dramatic quality and short narrative works are not a large part of our repertoire." Ratmansky had created an earlier version during his tenure at the Bolshoi Ballet; this is a new production with new choreography.

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