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Don’t Miss: Festival Ballet’s Up Close On Hope

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Festival Ballet Providence's Vilia Putrius and Mindaugas Bauzys in Pieta Michelangelo’s “Pieta”. Photo by Thomas Nola-Rion.

Get up close and personal with Festival Ballet Providence's (FBP) dancers beginning this weekend,  when the the company presents its eagerly anticipated and award-winning program, Up Close On Hope, an original series that presents premieres and contemporary choreography in FBP’s intimate Black Box Theater.

This much-loved FBP program offers audiences a rare opportunity to experience dance viscerally in such close proximity that “you can literally hear the dancers breathe.” Up Close On Hope will take place over three consecutive weekends: October 25, 26, November 1, 2, 8 and 9, 2013 at 8pm on Fridays and 7:30pm on Saturdays. The theater is located at 825 Hope Street, Providence, RI.

Up Close On Hope

Up Close has become a cultural landmark in Rhode Island’s arts scene. Mihailo (Misha) Djuric, artistic director of FBP said, “Each season, Up Close On Hope offers works that are both familiar and new.” He continued, “We always include works by young emerging choreographers to give them the chance to see their works danced by our professional company. This gives audiences the rare opportunity to share in the excitement of discovering these new works in our small theater.” He added, “We also include works that may never have been presented in the state and excerpts of pieces that have been well-received by our audiences in full productions.”

Program highlights

Highlights of the program include: excerpts from AGON, a 1957 George Balanchine masterpiece that FBP first performed in March 2013; IN PASSING, a work by Joseph Morrissey, whose choreography is new to FBP; TEA TIME, a company premiere by FBP resident choreographer, Viktor Plotnikov; the company premiere of LOVERS’ SONG, choreographed by Boyko Dossev, a frequent contributor to UP CLOSE ON HOPE; an excerpt from the much beloved ballet, LE CORSAIRE, by Marius Petipa after Joseph Mazilier; the world premiere of THE DAILY GRIND choreographed by the long-time FBP contributor, Mark Harootian; PIETA, danced by the powerhouse partners, Vilia Putrius and Mindaugas Bauzys, by Jurijus Smoriginas, which had its FBP premiere in 2007; and two world premieres choreographed by George Birkadze: HEAVEN CAN WAIT, with music by Ray Charles; and TZIGANI, set to the music of Aleksandar Vrebslov.

Tickets are priced at $50, and include intermission with wine (courtesy of RI Distributors) and at Intermission during each performance, hors d’oeuvres will be provided by one of several partnering local restaurants. The series' popularity often leads to sold-out performances, so it is suggested ticket buyers purchase their tickets in advance. To purchase tickets, call Festival Ballet Providence, 401-353-1129.

The programs

Excerpts from AGON

Choreography: George Balanchine

Music: Igor Stravinsky

AGON, a George Balanchine masterpiece, was performed for the first time ever in Rhode Island in FBP’s 2012-2013 spring season. Those who missed that performance are being given a second chance to see this gorgeous piece – and they are in for a treat; there are a handful of ballet companies that are given the authority by the Balanchine Trust to present Balanchine’s ballets.

AGON was choreographed in 1957 and at that time, this ballet was unlike any other. Created in collaboration with the composer, Igor Stravinsky, the ballet embodied New York modernism – full of shapes, phrases, rhythms, and sounds that hadn’t been encountered before. Described by The New York Times as "ingenious and fantastically off the beaten path," to see this work is to witness a piece of history.

Arlene Croce, a dance critic for The New Yorker for many years and a leading authority on the works of Balanchine and on AGON said, “…Often imitated, never surpassed, not even by its creators, Agon stands today as the supreme example of advanced American style in the classical ballet.”

IN PASSING (company premiere)

Choreography: Joseph Morrissey

Music: Yann Tiersen

Joseph Morrissey, who is joining the FBP roster of choreographers for the first time, created IN PASSING for the Noverre Society, a historic platform for young and emerging choreographers hosted annually by the Stuttgart Ballet. Inspired by the music of Yann Tiersen, this elegant piece portrays two couples moving intricately within themselves, while maintaining a distant relationship to each other. Though separated, the couples cross paths while “in passing,” as if in transition from one destination to another.

In a review for Esslingen, Germany’s newspaper, Esslingler Zeitung in 2009, Angela Reinhardt said, “Morrissey’s ‘In Passing,’ a short and compact piece for two pairs, flows with elegance and dynamics.”

TEA TIME (company premiere)

Choreography: Viktor Plotnikov

Music: Richard Georg Strauss

Resident choreographer Viktor Plotnikov's "Tea Time" is a lighthearted, comical piece that will add yet another unique element to his already diverse body of work. Mr. Plotnikov's contemporary style has been a centerpiece of FBP's repertory for over a decade; his works break the traditional boundaries of ballet artistry, while staying true to the fundamental technique of the art form. His first commission for FBP was in 2003 to choreograph an original version of “Carmen,” his first full-length ballet. That success led to numerous ensuing commissioned works by the company, including last year’s premiere of his ballet “Orchis,” a collaborative artistic venture that combined photography, inventive costumes, and original music. He choreographed “The Widow’s Broom,” “Loof and Let Dime” (2006), “Viktorations” (2006), “Bre” (2007), the overwhelming critically acclaimed “Coma” (2007), “Cinderella” (2007), “Atom” (2009), “Sun Dust” (2009), and “Surrender” (2010).

HEAVEN CAN WAIT (company premiere)

Choreography: George Birkadze

Music: Ray Charles

Long-time choreographer George Birkadze created this playful dance for three men in the heat of competition showing off and trying to outdo each other. Audiences will be delighted to see each man’s amazing jumps, turns, and tricks, which are matched only by the spirit and passion of Charles’ music. This piece was performed at the recent “Together We Dance 3” at The Vets.

LOVERS’ SONG (company premiere)

Choreography: Boyko Dossev

Music: Jacques Brel

Boyko Dossev is no stranger to FBP audiences. He has created many works for UP CLOSE ON HOPE, as well as for FBP’s popular children’s chatterBOXtheatre series, such as his charming and inventive interpretations of Grimms fairy tales, “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Mother Goose Goes To Hollywood.” His piece, “Crane,” was performed at FBP’s inaugural “Together We Dance Gala” in 2011.


Choreography: Marius Petipa after Joseph Mazilier

Music: Adolphe Adam

“Le Corsaire” is a classical ballet (premiere, 1958) that is a staple in the repertoire of ballet companies around the world. The pas de deux excerpted for UP CLOSE ON HOPE is a dance between Medora and Ali, who has declared his servitude to her. He dances with her humbly but powerfully. Renowned for its technical difficulty and virtuoso passages, this pas de deux is an unforgettable tour de force.

THE DAILY GRIND (world premiere)

Choreography: Mark Harootian

Music: Antonio Vivaldi

A popular, veteran choreographer for UP CLOSE ON HOPE, Mark Harootian’s newest work is a comment on social structures that define everyday life in a modern age. The piece celebrates individual uniqueness within what might be seen as a monotonous society.

PIETA (company premiere March 18, 2007)

Choreography: Jurijus Smoriginas

Music: Gustav Mahler

This powerful, moving pas de deux is as much a celebration of life as it is a depiction of loss. The piece, inspired by Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Pieta, opens with a woman holding a lifeless man lying upon her. Her memory of and love for him awakens his spirit as he rises and passionately dances with her in a moving, thought-provoking pas de deux. The piece embraces the stillness and sadness of Michelangelo’s sculpture and the bond of love evoked by both carved figures.

Tzigani (world premiere)

Choreography: George Birkadze

Music: Aleksandra Vrebalov

Another world premiere on this program is “Tzigani,” a new piece by George Birkadze set to music by Aleksandra Vrebalov. Aleksandra Vrebalov was born in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, and often looks to her roots for artistic inspiration. The music for “Tzigani” is based on tunes from gypsy taverns from her homeland. Birkadze is using the themes in Vrebalov’s music to its fullest potential in this new, passionate work.

Both Birkadze and Vrebalov are well known to Rhode Island audiences. Vrebalov was the composer for FBP’s critically acclaimed 2007 world premiere of “The Widow’s Broom.” She also composed “Stations,” an original piece, for the Rhode Island Civic Chorale; next month The Kronos Quartet will perform one of her original compositions during FirstWorks in Providence. Birkadze has been choreographing for FBP for several years. His works include: “Taming of the Shrew” (2012); “Dynamite” (2012); “Rhapsody for Two” (2013); and “Pieta” (not associated with current piece of the same name; 2013).


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