A twisted fairy tale ballet. Hamburg Ballet tours to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, March 28–April 2. The company will perform artistic director John Neumeier's The Little Mermaid which, with its dark psychological atmosphere, hews much closer to the Hans Christian Andersen original than the Disney version. Here's San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in the title role of a 2011 SFB performance:

Star-crossed lovers. Joffrey Ballet brings Krzysztof Pastor’s Romeo & Juliet to Lincoln Center's Koch Theater in New York City from March 29–April 2. In an attempt to contemporize the story, Pastor's version is set in 20th century Italy against a backdrop of war, but it still features the familiar Sergei Prokofiev score. This is a particularly exciting tour, because Joffrey Ballet hasn't visited New York since 1995, when the company left NYC for Chicago! Watch some of the company's leading dancers discuss what the roles of Romeo and Juliet mean to them:

 

Beauty awakens. Kansas City Ballet will premiere The Sleeping Beauty March 31–April 9. The classic is a right of passage for ballerinas and companies alike, and the company will dance artistic director Devon Carney's version after Marius Petipa. Watch leading KCB dancer Tempe Ostergren rehearse the role of Aurora:

 

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

 

Jillian Vanstone and Dylan Tedaldi in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Photo by Bruce Zinger, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

In the Prologue to Christopher Wheeldon's recent ballet The Winter's Tale, two boys, princely playmates who one day will become kings, are joined onstage by two women veiled in black. They stand, one beside each child, mysterious, disquieting. They hint at the power that women in the ballet will have over men's imaginations as objects of fierce passions or idealized love. In a brief, evocative tableau, the choreographer foreshadows the darker themes of Shakespeare's play, the ballet's source, and their joyful resolution, distilling in a brief passage the story's emotional arc.

Choreographing story ballets that will appeal to contemporary audiences presents unique challenges even for experienced dancemakers. A too-literal approach or too-traditional staging can seem quaint or flat. And what makes a suitable narrative for those coming of age in a digital era, where there are no strictures on what can be searched, seen and shared? How can a story ballet hold audiences' attention? If mere distraction becomes the goal, how can a ballet achieve the resonance that will give it continued life?

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