American Repertory Ballet's 2014-15 Season to Feature A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, ROMEO AND JULIET & More
American Repertory Ballet, New Jersey's preeminent classical and contemporary ballet company, will perform throughout New Jersey - in Princeton, New Brunswick, Lawrenceville, Branchburg, Rahway, Manasquan, and Trenton - beginning September, 2014 through April, 2015. 2014-2015 performance season highlights include: the world premiere of Artistic Director Douglas Martin's A Midsummer Night's Dream at State Theatre in New Brunswick, with live music performed by the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra and the women of the Rutgers University Kirkpatrick Choir; premieres by ARB Resident Choreographer Mary Barton; a performance of Douglas Martin's Romeo and Juliet at McCarter Theatre in Princeton; and a performance of ARB's Firebird program at The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College.
The fall season will open with a mixed repertory program: ARB's Fall Kick-Off performance at Rider University's Bart Luedeke Center in Lawrenceville on September 19 and 20, 2014 at 7:30pm. The performance will feature Philip Jerry's Our Town, a ballet based on Thornton Wilder's timeless play, Mary Barton's Fantasy Baroque, and Trinette Singleton's Dreams Interrupted.
Set to music by Aaron Copland, Our Town was premiered by American Repertory Ballet in 1994. The ballet chronicles the lives of neighbors Emily Webb and George Gibbs as they grow up together in a small New England town, fall in love, and eventually marry. In his review for CriticalDance, Jerry Hochman said of ARB's spring 2014 performance of Our Town, "[The] ballet is abuzz with energy, moving with a steady pulse and vitality," and that ARB's performance "prompted both tingles and tears." Mary Barton's Fantasy Baroque is, according to Hochman, a "bright and cute and frothy and frisky" ballet set in the baroque era, complete with period costumes and props. Trinette Singleton's Dreams Interrupted is a psychological piece set to an original score by Easton, PA composer Pierre Bohemund. Hochman says, "The accompanying music...is rapturous, eerie, and compelling, and Ms. Singleton's choreography brings out the best in it. It's a very fine little piece, superbly performed by all three dancers."
On October 17, 2014 at 7:00pm, ARB will present a preview performance of Douglas Martin's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Union County Performing Arts Center's Hamilton Stage in Rahway. This will feature excerpts from Douglas Martin's new ballet, performed in full costume.
Douglas Martin's A Midsummer Night's Dream will officially premiere with full sets and live music at State Theatre in New Brunswick on February 26 and 27, 2015 at 8:00pm. At the State Theatre world premiere, the music will be performed by the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Kynan Johns and the women of the Rutgers University Kirkpatrick Choir under the direction of Patrick Gardner.
This new full-length ballet will be set to Felix Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream score, with additional music, and will bring to life the wit and splendor of one of William Shakespeare's most popular comedies. The ballet, featuring brand-new choreography, costumes, and sets, will portray the weaving tales of the cunning Fairies, quarreling lovers, and a hilariously amateur acting group as their paths cross in a magical forest.
On October 25, 2014, ARB will present A Night at the Ballet, an evening of world premieres and unique revivals, at The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, NJ. This October, A Night at the Ballet will feature a world premiere by American Repertory Ballet's imaginative and innovative Resident Choreographer Mary Barton, Kirk Peterson's dynamic and lyrical Tears of the Moon, and more.
ARB's 2014 Nutcracker season will run November 22 through December 21, 2014 will feature performances at Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, McCarter Theatre in Princeton, Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton, Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan, and State Theatre in New Brunswick. ARB's Nutcracker has been a holiday tradition since 1964. The current production (2010-present) features the original Party and Dream Battle Scenes from company founder Audrée Estey's production, with Snow Scene and Land of Sweets choreography by Douglas Martin. The production features spectacular sets by Carl Sprague and costumes by Gina Ricca. ARB's 2014 Nutcracker season will close at State Theatre, where the ballet will be performed to live music, played by an orchestra and choir under the direction of Maestro Michael Pratt.
ARB will return to State Theatre for its first performance of 2015: the world premiere of Douglas Martin's A Midsummer Night's Dream. As previously mentioned, performances are February 26 and 27, 2015 at 8:00pm, and the music will be performed live by the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Kynan Johns and the women of the Rutgers University Kirkpatrick Choir under the direction of Patrick Gardner.
On March 14, 2015 at Raritan Valley Community College, the company will revive its Firebird program, which premiered in the spring of 2014 at McCarter Theatre. Firebird: Diaghilev Revisited features contemporary reimaginings of ballets premiered by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Douglas Martin's Firebird, set to Stravinsky's score; Martin's Rite of Spring, also set to music by Stravinsky; and Kirk Peterson's Afternoon of a Faun, set to Debussy's score. Patrick Kennedy of Broadway World described the program's spring 2014 premiere as "a revisitation of the balletic past that was taut, nimble, and modern."
In Martin's version of Firebird, the namesake character is portrayed by a male dancer rather than a female dancer. As Hochman notes in his review of the production, "Changing the gender allows an opportunity to present not just a beautiful, regal bird, but a powerful one." Hochman characterized the premiere of Firebird as "impressive," "fabulous," and "visual dynamite." He also comment on Martin's "intelligently fresh choreography" in Rite of Spring. Martin's Rite of Spring transports the original libretto of Nijinsky's Le Sacre du printemps - a story based on pagan ritual and sacrifice - to a competitive 1960s office environment. The Star-Ledger dance critic Robert Johnson says, "Martin's 'Rite' avoids primitivist clichés and, in gender parity, it manages to find a concept still radical enough to make audiences squirm." Ralph Malachowksi, dance critic for Out in Jersey, characterized Peterson's Afternoon of a Faun as "totally satisfying, exciting, and erotically-charged." Hochman notes, "There's no artificial or emotionally camouflaged posing in this piece; the carnal desire is mutual and unrestrained."
On April 16, ARB will present Martin's full-length Romeo and Juliet, which premiered in the fall of 2013 at State Theatre in New Brunswick. Martin's Romeo and Juliet ballet is based on Shakespeare's tragic story and is set to Prokofiev's score. Marina Kennedy of Broadway World says, "ARB's production of Romeo and Juliet [is] an outstanding example of dance being perfectly adapted to dramatic interpretation, with the ARB dancers in full command of their art." Jerry Hochman of CriticalDance notes, "Mr. Martin is particularly adept at choreographing stage-spanning action." He goes on to say that Martin's choreography and the dancers' execution of it possess "the combination of rapture and conviction, that quality of being genuine, that is necessary to make the audience feel what the dancers feel, and to respond with the cathartic release that prompts appreciative, as opposed to obligatory, applause."
ARB will return to Hamilton Stage in Rahway with Signature Duets on April 24 and 25, 2015. In spring 2014, the company presented Signature Duets for the first time at Hamilton Stage. This spring 2015 Signature Duets program will present a new, unique evening of repertory favorites, featuring pas de deuxs and duets.