Balanchine / Wheeldon / Tharp

February 7, 2013 to February 10, 2013 Merriam Theater

Square Dance
by George Balanchine, music by by Antonio Vivaldi & Arcangelo Corelli

After the Rain 
by Christopher Wheeldon, music by Arvo Pärt
*Company premiere

Push Comes to Shove
by Twyla Tharp, music by Joseph Haydn & Joseph Lamb

“Stylistically engrossing…” – The New York Times on Push Comes to Shove

Revel in ballet’s boundless potential with an evening of three diverse works. The legendary Twyla Tharp anchors this program with the quirky and fun Push Comes to Shove, originally created for Mikhail Baryshnikov and featuring Tharp’s trademark theatrical style. The Company Premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s compelling and intimate After the Rain showcases inventive partnering and heartfelt emotion. George Balanchine’s Square Dance, a favorite of many dancers, marries the structure of American folk dance with the grace of classical ballet.

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Celebrate Valentine's Day Early!
Enjoy dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House and join us for a performance of Balanchine/Wheeldon/Tharp. 

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George Balanchine (1903-1983)
A major artistic figure of the twentieth century, Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined, and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance. This had an inestimable influence on the growth of dance in America. Although at first his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, his ballets are now performed by all the major classical ballet companies throughout the world.
Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Balanchine accepted the invitation of American arts patron Lincoln Kirstein to create a ballet company in the United States in 1933. At Balanchine's request, Kirstein was also prepared to support the formation of a ballet school that would eventually rival the long-established academies of Europe.
The School of American Ballet, founded in 1934, was the first product of the Balanchine-Kirstein collaboration. Several ballet companies directed by the partnership were created and dissolved in the years that followed, while Balanchine found other outlets for his choreography. Eventually, with a performance on October 11, 1948, the New York City Ballet was born. Balanchine served as its ballet master and principal choreographer from 1948 until his death in 1983.
Balanchine's more than 400 dance works include Serenade (1934), Concerto Barocco (1941), Le Palais de Cristal, later renamed Symphony in C (1947), Orpheus (1948), The Nutcracker (1954), Agon (1957), Symphony in Three Movements (1972), Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972), Vienna Waltzes (1977), Ballo della Regina (1978), and Mozartiana (1981). His final ballet, a new version of Stravinsky's Variations for Orchestra, was created in 1982.
He also choreographed for films, operas, revues, and musicals. Among his best-known dances for the stage is Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, originally created for Broadway's On Your Toes (1936). The musical was later made into a movie.
Pennsylvania Ballet was founded 1963 by Balanchine student Barbara Weisberger, and continues to be a company steeped in Balanchine style and repertoire, in addition to being committed to new works that continue to contribute to the vitality of the art form.
Christopher Wheeldon
Christopher Wheeldon was born in Yeovil, Somerset, England. He began his ballet training when he was eight years old at the East Coker Ballet School. At age 11, Mr. Wheeldon enrolled at The Royal Ballet School where he trained until he was 18. He joined England’s Royal Ballet in 1991, where he danced works by Aston, MacMillan and Balanchine. That same year, he won the Gold Medal at the Prix de Lausanne competition. In 1993, Mr. Wheeldon was invited to become a member of the New York City Ballet’s Corps de Ballet. He was promoted to the rank of Soloist in 1998.
Since joining the New York City Ballet, Mr. Wheeldon has appeared in many of the works in repertory, dancing featured roles in George Balanchine’s Chaconne, Divertimento No. 15, Donizetti Variations, The Four Temperaments, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Nutcracker (“Spanish” & “Candy Cane”), Scotch Symphony; Peter Martin’s The Sleeping Beauty (Europe); and Jerome Robbin’s The Concert, Dances At A Gathering, The Goldberg Variations and 2 & 3 Part Inventions. Mr. Wheeldon originated roles in Robbin’s Brandenburg and West Side Story Suite; Peter Martin’s Reliquary, Swan Lake and Symphonic Dances; Angelin Preljocaj’s La Stravaganza; and Richard Tanner’s Episodes & Sarcasms.
In addition to his dancing, Mr. Wheeldon has choreographed works for Boston Ballet, Carolina Ballet, The Colorado Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, New York City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, The Royal Ballet, The Royal Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet, and the School of American Ballet: the official school of the New York City Ballet. Mr. Wheeldon was one of six choreographers who presented new works as part of The Diamond Project throughout the New York City Ballet’s 1997 spring season. His ballet Slavonic Dances, set to music by Dvorak, had its world premiere in June, 1997. In 1999, he choreographed Scènes De Ballet (Stravinsky) for New York City Ballet’s Stravinsky Festival and School of American Ballet’s Workshop Performances. Mr.Wheeldon’s other choreographic credits include Firebird (Stravinsky) for Boston Ballet in 1999, Sea Pictures (Elgar) for San Francisco Ballet in 2000, Mercurial Manoeuvres (Shostakovich) for New York City Ballet’s spring 2000 Diamond Project, as well as the ballet sequence for the Columbia Pictures feature film Center Stage directed by Nicholas Hytner.
Mr.Wheeldon retired from dancing in the year 2000 to concentrate on his choreographic work. Chosen to be New York City Ballet’s first Artist in Residence, he was named Resident Choreographer in 2001 and went on to create Polyphonia (Ligeti) that premiered January 2001 and Variations Sérieuses (Mendelssohn) in May 2001. For the Hamburg Ballet he created VIII as part of their Benjamin Britten evening in July 2001. Mr. Wheeldon made his Broadway choreographic debut in the musical The Sweet Smell of Success that premiered March 14, 2002. He completed a choreographic cycle to Ligeti music by creating Continuum for the San Francisco Ballet and Morphoses for the New York City Ballet. Mr. Wheeldon’s new works include Tryst to the music of Scottish composer James MacMillan for the Royal Ballet, and for the New York City Ballet – four new works: Carousel (Rodgers), Liturgy (Pärt), Shambards (Mac Millian) and Carnival Of The Animals (Saint-Saëns) with original narration by John Lithgow and soon to be made into a feature film. In 2004, Mr. Wheeldon created his first work for Pennsylvania Ballet, the full-length Swan Lake.
He has been honored by numerous awards for his choreography including: Mae L. Wien Award from the School of American Ballet for choreography (1996), Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center for promising newcomer in choreography (1997), the Brendan Gill Prize by the Municipal Art Society of New York for Mercurial Manoeuvres (2001), the London’s Critic’s Circle Award for best new choreography - Polyphonia (2001), he was honored as a Library Lion by The New York Public Library (2002) and most recently the Lawrence Olivier Award for Polyphonia. Mr.Wheeldon was honored by the Edinburgh International Festival 2003 with a showcase of his work featuring There Where She Loved (Chopin/Weill), Continuum and the premiere Rush (Martinu) presented by the San Francisco Ballet.
Twyla Tharp
Since graduating from Barnard College in 1963, Ms. Tharp has choreographed more than one hundred thirty-five dances, five Hollywood movies, directed and choreographed four Broadway shows. She received one Tony Award, two Emmy Awards, nineteen honorary doctorates, the Vietnam Veterans of America President's Award, the 2004 National Medal of the Arts, the 2008 Jerome Robbins Prize, and a 2008 Kennedy Center Honor. Her many grants include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
In 1965 Ms. Tharp founded her dance company, Twyla Tharp Dance. In addition to choreographing for her own company, she has created dances for The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Boston Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance, The Martha Graham Dance Company, Miami City Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Ms. Tharp's work first appeared on Broadway in 1980 with When We Were Very Young, followed in 1981 by her collaboration with David Byrne on The Catherine Wheel at the Winter Garden. Her 1985 production of Singin' In The Rain played at the Gershwin and was followed by an extensive national tour. In 2002, Ms. Tharp’s award-winning dance musical Movin' Out, set to the music and lyrics of Billy Joel, premiered at the Richard Rodgers, where it ran for three years. A national tour opened in 2004 and also ran for three years. For Movin' Out Ms. Tharp received the 2003 Tony Award, the 2003 Astaire Award, the Drama League Award for Sustained Achievement in Musical Theater; and both the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Choreography. For the London production Ms. Tharp won Best Choreography (Musical Theatre) Award of the UK's Critics' Circle National Dance Awards 2006. In 2006 Ms. Tharp worked with Bob Dylan’s music and lyrics to create The Times They Are A-Changin’ which played at the Brooks Atkinson.
In film Ms. Tharp has collaborated with director Milos Forman on Hair in 1978, Ragtime in 1980, and Amadeus in 1984, with Taylor Hackford on White Nights in 1985 and with James Brooks on I'll Do Anything in 1994.Her television credits include choreographing Sue's Leg for the inaugural episode of PBS' Dance In America, co-producing and directing Making Television Dance, which won the Chicago International Film Festival Award; and directing The Catherine Wheel for BBC Television. Ms. Tharp co-directed the television special Baryshnikov By Tharp, which won two Emmy Awards as well as the Director's Guild of America Award for Outstanding Director Achievement.
In 1992 Ms. Tharp wrote her autobiography Push Comes To Shove. In 2003 she wrote, The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life. In 2009 she wrote, The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together both of which were published by Simon and Schuster.
Today Ms. Tharp continues to create.