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Onstage This Week: Cincinnati Ballet's Annual Kaplan New Works Series, New Chamber Ballet Opens 15th Anniversary Season, and More!

Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.


Cincinnati Ballet Presents Six World Premieres as Part of Kaplan New Works Series

Cincinnati Ballet's annual Kaplan New Works Series starts the season off on an exciting foot. This year's program, running September 12–22, features six world premieres, including Heather Britt's When I Still Needed You, Andrea Schermoly's Swivet and San Francisco Ballet principal Sarah Van Patten's Skylight. The other three choreographers—Melissa Gelfin, Taylor Carrasco and David Morse—are all Cincinnati Ballet dancers, selected through the company's Choreographer's Workshop.

New Works by Ma Cong and Garrett Smith at Tulsa Ballet

September 12–22 Tulsa Ballet presents Creations in Studio K, a celebration of contemporary choreography. The program includes two world premieres: resident choreographer Ma Cong's Escaping the Weight of Darkness and Garrett Smith's Fading Figures. These works join the return of Val Caniparoli's Prawn-watching.

A New Collaboration by Zalman Raffael and Robert Weiss Takes the Stage at Carolina Ballet

Carolina Ballet opens its fall season with a program blending classic and new work. Running September 12–29, the company presents George Balanchine's "Rubies," founding artistic director Robert Weiss' Meditation from Thaïs and a world premiere by Weiss and artistic director Zalman Raffael set to music by San Francisco–based composer Shinji Eshima.

Louisville Ballet Brings Back "The Merry Widow"

Louisville Ballet brings back Ronald Hynd's The Merry Widow September 13–14. Hynd first created this version of the opulent ballet, to a score by Franz Léhar, for The Australian Ballet. Set in the glamour of early-20th-century Paris, The Merry Widow tells the story of the widow Hanna's relationship with the dashing Count Danilo.

New Chamber Ballet Opens Its 15th Anniversary Season with a World Premiere

New Chamber Ballet opens its 15th anniversary season at New York City Center's studios September 13–14 with a new full-length work by artistic director Miro Magloire. The ballet is set to four chamber pieces by contemporary German composer Wolfgang Rihm; Magloire's premiere coincides with a New York–based festival of Rihm's music, organized in collaboration with the German Consulate New York.

Kathryn Posin Explores the Life of Charles Darwin in New Work

September 13–14, the Kathryn Posin Dance Company presents three new works by Kathryn Posin at New York's 92nd Street Y as part of the Dig Dance Series. The first, Evolution: The Letters of Charles Darwin, is a spoken word ballet based on the life and letters of the famous scientist. Also on the program are Triple Sextet, set to Steve Reich's Double Sextet, and Memoir, a solo to Bach.

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Ballet West in rehearsal for Le Chant du Rossignol. Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West.

Ballet West opens its season October 25–November 2 with a triptych of works from George Balanchine's early choreographic career with Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Highlighting the program is Balanchine's 1925 The Song of the Nightingale (Le Chant du Rossignol), never before seen in the U.S. This ballet is not only the first piece that a then-21-year-old Balanchine made for the Ballets Russes; it also marks his first collaboration with Igor Stravinsky, and features costumes by Henri Matisse. To bring it to Salt Lake City, Ballet West is working closely with Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, who reconstructed the work for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in 1999.

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Stella Abrera in Le Corsaire. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre announced today that, after 24 years, beloved principal dancer Stella Abrera will retire from the stage this coming summer. Her farewell performance will be June 13, 2020, at the Metropolitan Opera House, dancing the title role in Giselle.

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Ballet Careers
Sisters Isabella Shaker and Alexandra Pullen. Photo Courtesy Alexandra Pullen.

This is the second in a series of articles this month about ballet siblings.

My mom was in the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre. A generation later, so was I. As if that's not enough for one family, my younger sister Isabella Shaker dreams of following in our dancing footsteps. Her endeavor, and her status as somewhat of a child prodigy, stirs feelings of pride and apprehension within me, since I have lived through the ups and downs of this intense yet rewarding career.

Ballet will always be my first love and the thing that brings me the most joy, and my dance career has opened endless opportunities for me. However, it's a difficult career path that requires a lifelong dedication. It's super competitive and can lead to body image issues, physical injury and stress. Most dancers will face some of these problems; I definitely dealt with all three.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

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