Festival Ballet Providence
April 20 to 22, 2007 Updated April 19, 2007
American Masters
Balanchine, Robbins and Plotnikov

Festival Ballet dancers in Viktor Plotnikov's Coma

George Balanchine's Rubies, Jerome Robbins' 2 and 3 Part Inventions, And a world premiere by Viktor Plotnikov

Festival Ballet Providence's season finale, American Masters brings some of the best in American choreography to Providence, with two icons of New York City Ballet and Broadway, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. The third, Viktor Plotnikov is a rising star of the younger generation of American choreographers. His newest work is beginning to gel in the studio, with stunning new choreography.

The company will give the Rhode Island premiere of George Balanchine's Rubies, a radiant work that continues to thrill audiences since its premiere by New York City Ballet in 1967. A brash, jazzy work set to Igor Stravinsky's percussive score, Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra , Rubies bursts with the same impetuous energy and syncopation that captured Balanchine's imagination when he first arrived in the US. Its speed, athleticism and brilliance are thoroughly captivating.

Jerome Robbins' 2 and 3 Part Inventions is set to twelve charming and simple piano Studies, Inventions and Sinfonias by Johann Sebastian Bach, and premiered in New York by the School of American Ballet in 1994. It quickly became part of the New York City Ballet repertoire, and remains an entertaining, creative and fascinating work. Festival Ballet Providence is the only professional company in the US, aside from NYCB, granted the rights to perform this work. Robbins was, as New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff wrote, "the first major American-born classical choreographer". Mr. Robbins also had the distinction of choreographing for Broadway, including such ground-breaking productions as West Side Story, The King and I, and Fiddler on the Roof.

The music for 2 and 3 Part Inventions will be played live by Russian-born pianist Maya Isyanova.

Viktor Plotnikov, an award-winning choreographer whose commissions by Festival Ballet Providence include Carmen (2003), The Widow's Broom (2004), and Loof and Let Dime (2006) has been commissioned to create a world premiere for this program. This Ukrainian-born choreographer found inspiration in his new home, sparking a flurry of imaginative choreography, with accolades that include the 2005 Helsinki International Ballet Competition's Choreography Award and works for the Bolshoi Ballet, Boston's Raw Dance and Milwaukee Ballet.

Plotnikov's newest creation for Festival Ballet Providence will be set to music by renowned Estonian composer Arvo Part. Plotnikov has chosen three movements from Spiegel, Im Spiegel, Fratres, and Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten.

Still in the early stages of creating this new work, Plotnikov noted, "This ballet is abstract, but with a deep emotional quality I think people will be drawn to. The piece portrays the difficult feelings friends and family experience when a loved one is in a comatose state, and flipping the coin, also depicts the vision I have of those actually in the coma. I feel the mind of one in a coma is a beautiful place to be, as is the transition to the next place. Arvo Part's music is important to the piece, an amazing composer who gives both the notes and the silence equal weight. This is very appealing to a choreographer such as myself. I feel extremely fortunate to have been granted the rights to the music for this piece, as it's not easily given."

Mr. Djuric noted, "As an American citizen, I find myself more and more fascinated by the incredible work of choreographers in this country; both the legacy of those no longer with us, as well as those who continue to create interesting, compelling works. When I see works by Balanchine and Robbins, I am always amazed at what they achieved. Their two ballets in this program are superlatives in every way. I am grateful to the Balanchine and Robbins Trusts for allowing us to perform these two pieces. And having witnessed the evolution of Viktor's choreography over the past 10 years, I see a choreographic vision developing that I also recognize as 'masterful'. With reviews of his last work for Festival Ballet Providence including "transfixing" and "mesmerizing", Viktor's newest world premiere will certainly be a stunning compliment to those of Balanchine and Robbins."

Repetiteur Elyse Borne, representing both the Balanchine and Robbins Trusts, set Rubies and 2 and 3 Part Inventions on Festival Ballet Providence's company during rehearsal weeks in September, February and April.

A dancer with New York City Ballet for 13 years during the '70s and '80s, Ms. Borne has an intimate knowledge of Balanchine and Robbins' works, and has been staging ballets nationally and internationally since 1994.

She noted, "It amazing for Festival Ballet Providence to have permission to perform a Robbins ballet. Very few ballet companies are able to get the rights from the Robbins Trust. Providence audiences, and Festival Ballet's dancers, are truly lucky. It's a beautiful ballet by a legendary choreographer."

When, Where and How Much

Festival Ballet Providence performs American Masters April 20-22, 2007, at VMA Arts and Cultural Center. Performance times are 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 pm on Sunday. Ticket prices start at $17, with discounts available for children 12 and under, seniors and groups. Introductory $40 Family 4-packs are available in Row U to Row Y. Student rush tickets available at half-price two hours before curtain, with current student ID.

Guest Artists

Viktor Plotnikov, Guest Choreographer

Viktor was born in Kharkov City, Ukraine, and began his training at the age of 11 at the Kiev-Ukraine School and continued at the St. Petersburg Ballet Academy. From 1987 to 1990 he was a soloist with Donetsk Ballet Company in the Ukraine. In 1990 Viktor joined Ballet Mississippi as a principal dancer. Additionally he has appeared as a guest artist with Tulsa Ballet Theatre and Dance Inc, and has toured Russia and the US.

In 1993 he joined Boston Ballet as principal dancer, performing major roles in the company's classical and contemporary repertory, and retiring from the company in 2005. (Mr. Plotnikov is married to Boston Ballet principal dancer Larissa Ponomarenko.)

Plotnikov created numerous works specifically for Boston Ballet dancers and members of Boston Ballet II. He has choreographed a number of works for institutions throughout the region, including performances in Boston Ballet's Grand Studio, Dance on the Top Floor, Company performances in Nantucket, and Khachaturian's Centennial at Boston Conservatory. Plotinokov created solos and duets, performed at International Gala Performances. His creations include works for the 2002 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS.

Plotnikov also created two one act ballet's My Impressions, set to symphonic Pink Floyd and Short Stories for A Small Magazine for the Dancer's Resource Fund, and at the well received annual choreographic event Raw Dance in collaboration with Boston Ballet and Boston Center for the Arts. With Crazy Nun, Viktor won the Choreography Award at the 2005 Helsinki International Ballet Competition. In the last year his choreography credits have soared, with works created for institutions from coast to coast.

Festival Ballet Providence Artistic Director Mihailo Djuric commissioned Mr. Plotnikov to create his first full-length ballet, Carmen in 2003, and followed that in 2005 with the commission of The Widow's Broom. He left days after that premiere to create a new work for the Bolshoi Ballet under the artistic direction of Alexei Ratmansky. Plotnikov's sublime Elegant Souls was featured as part of Festival Ballet Providence's Up CLOSE on HOPE series in March 2005. His stunning ballet, Loof and Let Dime, created in 2006, was noted by the Providence Journal as a "masterful modern work" that "led local dance in 2006".

Arvo Part, Composer

Born in 1935 in a small Estonian town near Tallinn, Arvo Pärt's musical career and life was profoundly influenced by the 50 years of Soviet occupation of Estonia that began in 1944. After starting his studies in 1954 at the Tallinn Music Secondary School, he matriculated to the Tallinn Conservatory in 1957. By the time of his graduation in 1963, Mr. Part had already written music for the stage and had received numerous commissions for film scores.

In the 1960's he was in the forefront of new compositions, becoming the first Estonian to employ serial technique. Tiring of serialism, he experimented with collage techniques.

During his career he occasionally underwent periods of self-imposed silence, during which time he would immerse himself in the music of previous generations. In the early 70's his style was similar to the early European polyphony, but in 1976 he emerged with a style that completely broke with his past, to which he has maintained steady adherence.

He calls the style 'tintinnabulation', an approach using very few elements, built with primitive materials, incorporating the triad, with one specific tonality. The three notes of a triad are much like bells, and hence the name. The basic guiding principle behind tintinnabulation of composing two simultaneous voices as one line - one voice moving stepwise from and to a central pitch, first up then down, and the other sounding the notes of the triad. A flurry of works followed, including Fratres, Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten and Tabula Rasa, all still highly regarded.

Having found his compositional voice, he soon found the Soviet control to be excessively limiting, and as his music began to be known in the West, Part emigrated in 1980, first to Vienna, and eventually settling with his family in West Berlin. Since leaving Estonia, Part has concentrated on setting religious texts, which have proved popular with choirs and ensembles around the world.

Part's honors include election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1998, his nomination in 2000 as 14th International Composer by the Royal Academy of Music in London. In May 2003, the "ontemporary Music Award at the Classical Brit Awards ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and the 2008 Leonie Sonning Music Prize, Denmark's highest musical honor.

For more about Arvo Part, visit http://www.arvopart.info

Maya Isyanova, Pianist, 2 and 3 Part Inventions

Born in Leningrad, Maya Isyanova received her B.M. and M.M. in Piano Performance from Leningrad Conservatory. She was a full scholarship recipient at Boston University Doctor of Musical Arts program. Maya Isyanova, now in her seventh year as Pianist Coordinator of Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education, served as a pianist of the Boston Ballet School since 1991.

As a pianist and an accompanist, Ms Isyanova has played numerous recitals in the Boston area including appearances in Jordan Hall, the Wang Center, and the Tsai Performance Center. In addition, Ms. Isyanova has served as Music Director of Operafest Company and Staff Pianist for the Choral and Vocal departments of New England Conservatory.

Formerly on the piano faculty of the European Piano School, Ms. Isyanova is a member of New England Piano Teachers' Association and Massachusetts Music Teachers’ Association. Her piano students participated in many competitions and won several awards.

George Balanchine, Choreographer

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Balanchine (1904-1983) is regarded as the 20th century's foremost contemporary ballet choreographer. He came to the United States in late 1933, at the age of 29, accepting the invitation of the young American arts patron Lincoln Kirstein (1907-96), whose great passions included the dream of creating a ballet company in America. At Balanchine's behest, Kirstein was also prepared to support the formation of an American academy of ballet that would eventually rival the long-established schools of Europe.

This was the School of American Ballet, founded in 1934, the first product of the Balanchine-Kirstein collaboration. Several ballet companies directed by the two 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.

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.

For more about George Balanchine and his works, visit www.balanchine.org.

Jerome Robbins, Choreographer

Born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, Jerome Robbins (1918-1998) showed as a young boy natural talents for music, dancing and theater. When the Depression interrupted his academic schooling, he quickly followed his heart into show business, with troupes and venues that combined skills for theater dance and music.

From work in the Poconos to Broadway choruses, eventually found himself in 1940 in the Broadway production Keep Off the Grass, choreographed by George Balanchine. Soon after he was accepted into the recently founded Ballet Theatre. He pursued his desire to choreograph a ballet for the company with an American theme, hiring an unknown composer, Leonard Bernstein, to create a work about three sailors on leave in New York. The 1944 premiere of Fancy Free was an immediate hit, and led to the celebrated opening of the Broadway show based on his ballet, On the Town.

His growing talents were recognized and in 1949 he joined Balanchine at the newly formed New York City Ballet, and was soon named Associate Artistic Director. He continued to perform dramatic roles in Balanchine ballets until his retirement in the mid-1950's.

His Broadway career soared, choreographing or directing such Broadway as Call Me Madam (1950), The King and I (1951), The Pajama Game (1954), and Peter Pan (1954). In 1957 he again broke the Broadway show mold, teaming again with Leonard Bernstein to create West Side Story. At New York City Ballet he also made his mark with The Guests (1949), Age of Anxiety (1950) and The Cage (1951), showing his affinity for contemporary music, drama, energy and American sensibility.

After the success of West Side Story, Robbins left New York City Ballet to found his own company, Ballet: USA. While touring extensively in Europe, the company failed to connect with audiences in the US and was disbanded in 1961.

His return to New York included Broadway hits A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Funny Girl (1964) and Fiddler on the Roof.

At NYCB he flourished, sharing with Balanchine the position of Ballet Master, creating such masterpieces as Stravinksy's Les Noces, Dances at a Gathering, Goldberg Variations, Dybbuk, and Suite of Dances, and collaborating with Balanchine on Firebird and Pulcinella. Despite fragile health, and the onset of Parkinsons Disease in 1996, he continued to work, creating Brandenburg in 1997, and re-staging Les Noces in 1998, two months before his death after suffering a massive stroke.

Jerome Robbins made his mark in both the ballet and Broadway realms, changing each one tremendously, with a legacy that includes 5 Tony Awards, 2 Academy Awards, Kennedy Center honors, 5 Donaldson Awards and countless others. For more detailed information about Jerome Robbins, visit www.JeromeRobbins.org.

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Performance Details

Festival Ballet Providence
American Masters
VMA Arts & Cultural Center
1 Avenue of the Arts
Providence, RI

April 20 to 22, 2007
Friday & Saturday 7:30pm
Sunday at 2:30pm

Price: $17-$62.00, price includes $2.00 VMA Facility Fee
Discounts for Groups, children and seniors; $40 family 4-pack

Information: 401.353.1129
Tickets: Tickets.com 800.919.6272 or VMA 401.272.4862
Website: http://www.festivalballet.com

About the guest artists

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