This spring, Milwaukee Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre are each putting on programs composed entirely of choreography by company dancers. February 8 marks the premiere of Milwaukee Ballet's MXE Milwaukee Mixed, featuring pieces by Garrett Glassman, Timothy O'Donnell, Isaac Sharratt, Nicole Teague-Howell and Petr Zahradnícˇek. On March 16, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre: New Works opens with ballets by Amanda Cochrane, Julia Erickson, Yoshiaki Nakano, Jessica McCann, William Moore, JoAnna Schmidt and Cooper Verona.
For MB artistic director Michael Pink, the idea was inspired by the success of the company's biennial Genesis: International Choreographic Competition. "Because of the competition, our audiences have really embraced the idea of seeing new work," says Pink. And he's taking creativity to the next level; each choreographer is working with local musicians. While O'Donnell and Zahradnícˇek already hold the title of resident choreographer, the program will also showcase three lesser-seen artists. "These choreographers aren't just step arrangers," says Pink, "but people who have a voice."
PBT artistic director Terrence S. Orr says that the inspiration for the company's program came from the dancers themselves. He sought out those who had been choreographing for PBT's school or working on their own projects outside of the company. Orr believes that the chance to create for their peers will provide tremendous growth for the dancers. "It's important to have the main classics," says Orr, "but the only thing that's going to sustain ballet is fresh new choreography that represents our time."