Festival Ballet

Festival Ballet's
The Witch's Bllom
Performing Arts Center
Veterans Memorial Auditorium
1 Avenue of the Arts
Providence RI
October 22* & 23 at 730pm
October 24 at 230pm
Prices: $12.00 to $50.00*
Festival Ballet 401-353-1129
VMA Box Office: 401-272-4862
* $5.00 off on Friday Tickets!
Also student half price rush tickets one hour before curtain
ID required


Choreography Viktor Plotnikov
Score Aleksandra Vrebalov
Set Design Eugene Lee
Costume Design Ka Yan Kan
Lighting Design Alan Pickart
Stage Manager Jenny Peek
Asst Lighting Designer Rob Ferland
Set Contruction Jeremy Woodward
Conductor Dr. Edward Markward
The Broom
   Gleb Lyamenkoff (Friday, Sunday)
   Davide Vittorino (Friday, Saturday)
Minna Shaw (The Widow)
   Leticia Guerrero (Friday, Sunday)    Jennifer Ricci (Friday, Saturday)
Owen Shaw (Widow's Son)
   Emily Bromberg (Friday, Sunday)
   Heather O'Halloran (Saturday)
Pingrel (the Witch)
   Karla Kovatch (Friday, Sunday)
   Marissa Gomer (Saturday)
Doug Spivey (A Neighbor)
   Mark Harootian (Friday, Sunday)
Piotr Ostaltsov (Saturday)
Doug Spivey Jr (a Spivey son)
   Elizabeth Jessee (Friday, Sunday)
   Erica Chipp (Saturday)
Russell Spivey (a Spivey son)
   Caitlin Novero (Friday, Sunday)
   Carolyn Dellinger (Saturday)
The Fire
Jennifer Ricci, Davide Vittorino (Friday, Sunday) Leticia Guerrero, Gleb Lyamenkoff (Saturday)
Emily Bromberg/Heather O'Halloran, Erica Chipp, Daniela Debrot, Carolyn Dellinger, Courtney Fraga, Marissa Gomer/Karla Kovatch, Elizabeth Jessee, Caitlin Novero, Jennifer Young, Cameron Baldassarra, Ty Parmenter, Andrew Skeels
Broom Puppeteers
Cameron Baldassarra, Mark Harootian, Gleb Lyamenkoff/Davide Vittorino, Eivar Martinez, Piotr Ostaltsov, Ty Parmenter, Andrew Skeels
Daniela Debrot, Emily Bromberg/Heather O'Halloran, Carolyn Dellinger/Caitlin Novero, Courtney Fraga, Marissa Gomer/Karla Kovatch, Jennifer Young, Cameron Baldassarra, Mark Harootian/Piotr Ostaltsov, Ty Parmenter, Andrew Skeels
Siobhan Chavarria, Hadley Eames, Nina Lauro
Chamber Ensemble
Violin I Amy Rosenthal
Violin II Laura Gulley
Viola Susan Culpo
Cello Hrant Tatian
Flute/Piccolo Mary Ellen Guzzio
Clarinet/Base Clarinet Susan Nicholson
French Horn Stephen Nadel
Piano Michael Kregler
Harp Hyungjung Choi
Percussion Michael De Quattro
Percussion Douglas Tella


Pick the performance by
your favorite dancers

Presents Viktor Plotnikov's Carmen

A work in the planning for several years, Festival Ballet Providence Artistic Director Mihailo Djuric has at last made his dream come true, that of creating a world class ballet inspired by The Widow's Broom. Based on the book of the same title by Providence author and illustrator, Chris Van Allsburg, The Widow's Broom is a fairy tale with all the elements of a great ballet: drama, magic, good and evil, and a happy ending. Mr. Djuric chose Boston's Viktor Plotnikov to create the world premiere. Plotnikov, who won critical and popular acclaim for his dramatic, hot-blooded production of Carmen for Festival Ballet Providence last season, has tackled this challenging project with his innovative, dynamic choreographic style and a pool of talented collaborators assembled by Djuric.

Joining Mr. Plotnikov is Mr. Van Allsburg, who has been involved from the outset of the project, adapting his award-winning book to maximize the story's stage-appeal. The author of numerous other books, two of which have been turned to films, he is a big fan of collaboration, and anxious to see the results of this group effort. "I can imagine what has to take place on stage, and so I write visually rather than in a narrow literary sense."

Aleksandra Vrebalov, a talented young composer whose previous commissions include one for the Kronos Quartet, has delivered a powerful original score to be played live by a 10 piece ensemble. From a witch's dance to the awakening of a morning farmyard, Ms. Vrebalov's music captures a vast array of moods, enhancing the work and providing further inspiration to the artistic team.

The look of the stage will be created by award-winning set designer and Providence resident Eugene Lee. Approaching the work by finding a detail of the story and conveying it to the audience, Lee sees the set design as a visual metaphor, one to be sparingly created with insight to the essence of the story's choreography to be most effective for dance. A life spent in the theater with accolades that include Tony's for Candide, Sweeney Todd and Wicked, Lee approaches the other artists involved in the project as resources for his own creativity, relating to Destination Providence, "Theatre means collaboration."

Designing the lighting for the production is Alan Pickart, a faculty member at Rhode Island College and an emphatic proponent of collaboration, insisting that while the process may at times be rough, the combined efforts more often than not create diamonds.

This is the story of a witch's worn-out broom that befriends a widow and her son to the growing distrust of her neighbors. From a broom-riding convocation of witches swirling around a boiling cauldron, to a magical broom helping the lives of a kind-hearted widow and her son, and the ultimate outwitting of a xenophobic neighbors by a simple woman only wanting peace and quiet. The ending of The Widow's Broom is a triumph that is both satisfying and delicious.

Live musical ensemble will feature eleven players with the following instruments: string quartet (2 violins, viola and cello), flute, piccolo, clarinet, bass clarinet, horn, percussion (2 players), harp and piano.

This production promises to be an intriguing, world-class, world premiere, with some of the best of Providence's creative talent joined by equally talented collaborators from Boston and New York. Providence continues to be an arts incubator, where artists are creating exciting work.

The Widow's Broom premieres October 22-24th at the VMA Arts & Cultural Center, 1 Avenue of the Arts, with performances at 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 pm on Sunday. This season Festival Ballet Providence is offering a special Five Dollar Off Fridays promotion, to encourage audiences to experience the excitement of opening night. Reserved tickets (priced from $15 to $50) and season subscriptions are available by contacting, 800.919.6272, Festival Ballet Providence, 401.353.1129, the VMA Arts & Cultural Center (401.272.4862) during box office hours, or by visiting . Email inquiries may be directed to Group discounts are available.

This season Festival Ballet Providence is offering a special Five Dollar Off Fridays promotion, to encourage audiences to experience the excitement of opening night. Reserved tickets (priced from $15 to $50) and season subscriptions are available by contacting Festival Ballet Providence at 401.353.1129 (in advance of show) , ordering online at, (also 800.919.6272), or through the VMA box office. Email inquiries may be directed to Group discounts are available.

Viktor Plotnikov - 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 including the title role in Onegin, Conrad in Le Corsaire, Albrecht in Giselle, Prince Desire in The Sleeping Beauty, Cavalier, Snow King and Dr. Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker, Solor in La Bayadere, Dracula in Dracula, and Tico-Tico in Paul Taylor's Company B. He has created roles in the World Premieres of Tharp's Waterbaby Bagatelles, Spencer/Colton's Before Ever After, and Daniel Pelzig's Nine Lives: Songs of Lyle Lovett, The Princess and the Pea, and Flights and Fancy. His repertoire also includes Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15, Theme and Variations and The Four Temperaments, Roland Petit's Le Jeune Homme et La Mort, Mark Morris' Maelstrom, Rudi van Dantzig's Four Last Songs, and Laszlo Berdo's Below Down Under.

Recently Plotnikov has created 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 most recent 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 choreographic event Raw Dance in collaboration with Boston Ballet and Boston Center for the Arts.

In 2003 Festival Ballet Providence Artistic Director Mihailo Djuric commissioned Mr. Plotnikov to create a two-act production of Carmen. The world premiere took place October 3-5, 2003, opening Festival Ballet's 26th season with standing ovations for all three performances. Following the premiere of The Widow's Broom, Viktor will begin work on a commission from the Bolshoi to create a new ballet for that company.

Mr. Plotnikov is married to Boston Ballet principal dancer Larissa Ponomarenko.

Chris Van Allsburg - adaptation/libretto
Parents, educators, and kids have a certain obsession with the books of Chris Van Allsburg. So many different people appreciate his work because there is nothing simplistic or formulaic about anything he's produced. Van Allsburg doesn't write with an eye toward what an 8 year-old boy would enjoy, but rather what he himself would like. The only consistent element of his books is the fascinating, often mysterious, and sometimes menacing way he approaches the question, 'What If?' What if a boy woke one night to find a massive steam engine in front of his house? What if the roll of the dice on a simple board game could actually take you into the game? What if a witch has to retire her flying broom?

Chris Van Allsburg was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the only thing people expected to see in a boys' hands was a football, not a paintbrush. He attended the University of Michigan with the vague idea of studying law, but after a freshman course in drawing he decided to study sculpture. In 1972 he moved to Providence, Rhode Island, for a graduate degree in sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design. Shortly after he received his degree, Van Allsburg began to show his sculptures in New York City galleries where their surreal imaginativeness quickly won him a reputation as an artist to watch. He didn't begin drawing until his teaching commitments at RISD and a cold studio too far across town kept him from his sculpture.

The black-and-white artwork he started to create in graphite pencil and some charcoal was so appealing to his wife, Lisa, and their friend, the illustrator David Macaulay, that she decided to show the work to children's book editors. In Boston, Lisa visited Walter Lorraine at Houghton Mifflin, Macaulay's editor. Lorraine looked at a drawing, which showed a lump in a carpet and a man raising a cane to hit it (the illustration now printed in Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick) and said, "If he can get this much story-telling content into one piece of art, I know he can create a children's book." Lisa Van Allsburg walked out with the promise of a contract and the rest, as they say, is history.

Houghton Mifflin has published fifteen of Van Allsburg's books - from his Caldecott Honor Award-winning first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, to his most recent space adventure, Zathura. The success of Van Allsburg's Jumanji and The Polar Express is no less than phenomenal: both received Caldecott Medals, Jumanji was made into a movie in 1995, The Polar Express has become a classic with millions of copies sold, and will be released as a major motion picture on November 10, 2004. The Widow's Broom, The Sweetest Fig, and Zathura are also in various stages of production for the movies.

Chris Van Allsburg lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with his wife, Lisa, and their two daughters, Sophie and Anna. For a wealth of information about Mr. Van Allsburg, please visit

Eugene Lee (Scenic Design)
Eugene Lee has been the resident designer at Trinity Repertory Company since 1967. He has BFA degrees from the Art Institute of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon University, an MFA from the Yale Drama School, and honorary doctorates from DePaul University and Rhode Island College. He has been production designer on Saturday Night Live since 1974. Mr. Lee is the recipient of the Tony Award (for Candide and Sweeney Todd), the American Theatre Wing's Design Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama Desk Award, the Pell Award, and the Rhode Island Governor's Award for the Arts. Mr. Lee's other New York productions include Slaveship, Alice in Wonderland, The Normal Heart, Agnes of God, Grandchild of Kings and Uncle Vanya. Film credits include Easy Money, Francis Ford Coppola's Hammett, John Huston's Mr. North, and Louis Malle's Vanya on 42nd Street. His most recent award was a third Tony for the Broadway production, Wicked. An adjunct professor at Brown University, Mr. Lee lives in Providence with wife Brooke and son Teddy.

Aleksandra Vrebalov (Composer, original score)
Aleksandra Vrebalov received her Bachelor of Music in Music Composition from Novi Sad University, Yugoslavia (1992), a Master in Music Composition from San Francisco Conservatory (1996) and a Doctor of Arts in Music Composition from the University of Michigan (2002). Ms. Vrebalov completed additional composition studies in Kazimierz Dolny, Poland (1990) and Sombathely, Hungary (1992) in collaboration with IRCAM, Belgrade University (1993-1994), New York University Summer Composition Workshop (1996), Prague Academy of Music (1997), Apeldoorn Young Composer's Meeting, Holland (1998), Tanglewood Music Center (1999) and Darmstadt International Music Courses, Germany (2000). Her teachers include Evan Chambers, Michael Daugherty, Andrew Mead, George Benjamin, Osvaldo Golijov, Ivana Loudova, Justin Dello Joio, Elinor Armer, Conrad Susa, Zoran Eric, Miroslav Statkic, and Slavko Suklar.

She has received fellowships from the Yugoslavia Ministry of Culture and Education, the Open Society/Soros Fond Grants, San Francisco Conservatory, the Gaudeaumus/Gigant Center for the Arts Fellowship, Otto Eckstein family Fellowship, Rockefeller Bellagio Center Fellowship, University of Michigan Regents Fellowship and Humanities Fellowship, the Rackham Block Music Grant, ASCAP Leonard Bernstein Fund and Standard Award, Meet The Composer, and the Douglas Moore Fellowship. Aleksandra has receive several prizes for her works including form the Friends and Enemies of New Music, NY, the Vienna Modern Masters Recording Award and the Highsmith Composition Competition at SFCM.

Ms. Vrebalov's commissions include Kronos Quartet, Merkin Concert Hall Composer's Zoom Series, Ad Libitum Ensemble, Barbara Jancic, Dr. John Psarouthakis, and One Whole Half Step. Her residencies include the Gaudeamus Seminar, MacDowell Artist Residence, Rockefellar Bellagio Center, Other Minds Festival, Cabrillo Conductors/Composers' Workshop, American Opera Projects, June in Buffalo and New Dramatists. Her works have been played around the world by artists including the Kronos Quartet, Onyx String Quartet, the Moravia Philharmonic and the Utrecht String Quartet. She has taught composition and music theory at Novi Sad University, University of Michigan and CUNY/City College of New York.

Aleksandra lives in New York. The score for The Widow's Broom is her first commission by Festival Ballet Providence.

Alan Pickart (Lighting Design)
Alan Pickart is a member of the theatre faculty at Rhode Island College, having relocated from Niagara University in New York. A designer and technical director, Pickart has created designs for dance that have been seen around the country and abroad, working with the Tampa Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Columbia City Ballet and the European Ballet in London. He holds a B.F.A. from the University of Florida and an M. F. A. in set design from the University of South Carolina. Other work includes three seasons as a designer and production manager with Artpark in Lewiston, New York. Alan has also served as a production manager and technical director for several facilities, including the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and the David Falk Theatre in Florida.

Widow's Broom Synopsis
A large group of witches in striped stockings dance together at night around a cauldron with brooms. As they fly off, we notice one who is moving slower eventually being left behind and finally falling from the sky to a hard landing.

The witch is seen rising from the ground in the middle of a vegetable garden, shaking her broom and throwing it down. Another witch flies in and they fly off together. Later that day the boy, the son of the widow whose house we see, discovers the broom and brings it into the house.

Inside the widow's cottage the widow is doing her housework, sweeping. The son brings the fallen broom to his mother, who compares the two, by all appearances, identical. She puts the broom away, and it soon emerges from the closet, dancing behind the widow and her son. They watch as it sweeps and dances. The widow is horrified and demands the broom leave. The broom, eager to please, sets to work outside, performing chores to help the widow and her son. Eventually the neighbors, the Farmer Spivey and his children, spy on the broom as it does more and more chores for the widow. The widow keeps her distance from the broom, not so antagonistic toward the broom, but still not dancing with it. She does allow it to help with the household chores. At one point the Spivey children torment the broom as it works outside, so much so that it finally retaliates. The neighbors soon come to the widow, demanding the broom. She gives them the broom from the closet. They take it and set fire to it. Later Farmer Spivey and his children, out in the forest hunting, are frightened away by a menacing white broom holding a white ax, thinking they have seen the ghost of the broom.

In the last scene, the broom appears to the widow, and at last she accepts his invitation to dance.
This production of The Widow's Broom is made possible in part by Widow's Broom Principal Sponsor The Providence Journal, University Orthopedics (underwriting the choreography), Houghton Mifflin (underwriting the music composition), season television sponsor NBC10, ClearChannel Communications, Cox Business Services, a planning grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, an anonymous donor underwriting the music ensemble and ongoing operating support from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

Deborah Nash at
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