Martha Graham Dance Co. Added to Carolina Performing Arts' RITE OF SPRING AT 100

Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) today announced the addition of an exceptional two-night program to the performance season of The Rite of Spring at 100. Presented at 8pm on Friday, April 26 and at 9pm on Saturday, April 27,Myth & Transformation by the renowned Martha Graham Dance Company will bring to a conclusion the performance season of this unprecedented nine-month festival celebrating the centennial of the premiere of the Stravinsky-Nijinsky-Roerich masterpiece.

Myth & Transformation will feature performances of Graham’s powerful The Rite of Spring, which has not been seen by audiences in twenty years, and the much-belovEd Graham classic Appalachian Spring; the world premiere of a work choreographed by Nacho Duato, featuring the music of Arvo Pärt with vocals performed by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Choir; and performances by guest artist Wendy Whelan, principal dancer for the New York City Ballet. 

Myth & Transformation brings together artists from across eras, genres and geographies, much as the The Rite of Spring has done over the past 100 years,” stated Emil J. Kang, Executive Director for the Arts at UNC-Chapel Hill and Director of Carolina Performing Arts. “We believe these one-time-only performances will be a stunning climax to our Rite 100performance season, which features eleven commissioned works, nine world premieres and two U.S. premieres by world-renowned composers, choreographers, directors and performers.”

The Martha Graham Dance Company’s Myth & Transformation programs explore how artists of any era transform iconic stories to make contemporary statements. “The primal physical expression that is the hallmark of the Graham style has a deep connection with the primitive essences evoked in Stravinsky’s revolutionary score for The Rite of Spring, and the pairing is electric,” said Janet Eilber, Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Dance Company. “Graham’s connection to The Rite began in 1930 when she was propelled to international fame starring in one of the first productions in America, choreographed by Leonide Massine and conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Her choreography for the work in 1984 bookends her long creative career, and elements of her many theatrical innovations are distilled into this masterwork, one of her last.”

Martha Graham gave the premiere of her choreography to The Rite of Spring in 1984 at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, to a standing ovation. Not seen by audiences since 1993, her Rite will return to the stage at CPA, featuring Graham stars Blakeley White-McGuire and Xiaochuan Xie in the lead role on different evenings. This remount of The Rite of Spring will include the work’s original costumes by Halston. The Graham Company will also perform Appalachian Spring, one of Graham’s most celebrated masterpieces, featuring Aaron Copland’s Pulitzer Prize-winning score and a set design by Isamu Noguchi.  

Renowned for his lush choreographic vocabulary, Nacho Duato has created works for the world’s leading dance companies, including American Ballet Theater, Nederlands Dans Theater, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Stuttgart Ballet, Royal Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet. Commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts, Duato’s premiere for the Graham Company’s Myth & Transformation program will incorporate Pärt’s De Profundis with vocals performed by the Carolina Choir, made up of UNC-Chapel Hill students, under the direction of Professor Susan Klebanow.

“As we look back to the premiere of The Rite of Spring, it is a privilege to close Carolina Performing Arts’ epic season celebrating the impact of this seminal work, which has sent ripples throughout the world of music, dance and design over the last one hundred years, with my new work for the Martha Graham Dance Company,” said choreographer Nacho Duato. “The legacy of The Rite is not just a direct link to the breaking down of the tenets of classical forms but the continuing drive of artists to explore the new. My piece for the Martha Graham Company looks forward to a new relationship between myself and the Company and a new offering to the world of dance.”

Details on the program of guest artist Wendy Whelan will be available once confirmed. 

Myth & Transformation by The Martha Graham Dance Company will replace the performances of The Rite of Spring by Béjart Ballet Lausanne previously scheduled for Friday, April 26 at 8pm and Saturday, April 27 at 9pm. This change is due to a cancelation by the artists.


Martha Graham Dance Company
The Martha Graham Dance Company has been a leader in the development of contemporary dance since its founding in 1926. Informed by the expansive vision of pioneering choreographer Martha Graham, the Company brings to life a timeless and uniquely American style of dance that has influenced generations of artists and continues to captivate audiences. Graham and her Company have expanded contemporary dance’s vocabulary of movement and forever altered the scope of the art form by rooting works in contemporary social, political, psychological, and sexual contexts, deepening their impact and resonance.

Nacho Duato
Nacho Duato was born in Valencia, Spain. He signed his first professional contract with the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm in 1980 and, a year later, Ji?í Kylián brought him to the Nederlands Dans Theater in Holland. Duato’s talent as a dancer led him to explore choreography, and his first attempt in 1983 was a major success: he won first prize at the International Choreographic Workshop in Cologne for Jardí Tancat, set to Catalan music by Maria del Mar Bonet. In 1988, Duato was named Resident Choreographer for Nederlands Dans Theater alongside Hans van Manen and Ji?í Kylián. In 1995, Duato received the title of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, presented by the French Embassy in Spain, and in 1998 the Spanish Government awarded him the Golden Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts. In 2000, he won the Benois de la Danse at the Stuttgart Opera, presented by the International Dance Association, for Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness, and in 2003 won Spain’s National Dance Award in the Creative category. In 2010, he was awarded the Chile Arts Critics Circle Prize and his choreography Na Floresta was nominated for the Golden Mask, Russia’s critics’ circle highest award. Duato was Artistic Director of Compañía Nacional de Danza from 1990 through 2010, and in January 2011 became Artistic Director of the Mikhailovsky Ballet. His ballets form part of the repertoire of the most important companies around the world.

Wendy Whelan, New York City Ballet
Wendy Whelan was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1982, Ms. Whelan moved to New York to study full-time at the School of American Ballet and the Professional Children’s School.  She was invited to become a member of the New York City Ballet corps de ballet in 1986 and was promoted to principal dancer in 1991. Ms. Whelan has performed a wide spectrum of the Balanchine repertory, danced the full-length classics such as Peter Martins’ Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, and worked closely with Jerome Robbins on many of his ballets. Christopher Wheeldon has created leading roles for Ms. Whelan in 13 of his ballets, and she has originated featured roles in works by Alexei Ratmansky, William Forsythe, Wayne McGregor, Jorma Elo, Shen Wei and Twyla Tharp. In 2007, Ms. Whelan performed with Morphoses the Wheeldon Company, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Award. She has been a guest artist with the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden and with the Kirov Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. She received the 2007 Dance Magazine Award and in 2009 was given a Doctorate of Arts, honoris causa, from Bellarmine University.  In 2011, she was honored with both The Jerome Robbins Award and a Bessie award for her Sustained Achievement in Performance.

About The Rite of Spring at 100
Incorporating a major international conference featuring eminent musicologist Richard Taruskin, artist residencies, master classes and multidisciplinary collaborations, Rite 100 will offer a dazzling season of fifteen public performances created by world renowned choreographers, composers, directors and conductors. Revisiting, re-examining and responding imaginatively to the Stravinsky-Nijinsky-Roerich masterpiece, these artists will present programs that include eleven CPA commissions, representing nine world premieres and two U.S. premieres.

The Rite 100 season will feature The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Studio for New Music Ensemble from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, The Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Brooklyn Rider, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and Siti Company, Magdalena Kožená and Yefim Bronfman, The Cleveland Orchestra, Vijay Iyer and the International Contemporary Ensemble, Nederlands Dans Theater I, Basil Twist with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Martha Graham Dance Company, Wendy Whelan, Joffrey Ballet and the UNC School of the Arts with Chancellor John Mauceri, conductor. 

About Carolina Performing Arts
The mission of Carolina Performing Arts is to enrich lives by creating and presenting exceptional arts experiences and connecting them to the UNC community and beyond. Established in 2005 at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Performing Arts presents the very best from the full spectrum of the performing arts: internationally renowned recitalists and orchestras, chamber ensembles, jazz, folk, and world music artists, dance and theater.

CPA strives to nurture artistic innovation and the development of new works on and off campus; to challenge and inspire audiences with powerful and transformative performances; and to integrate the arts into the life of the University, embracing its mission of teaching, research and public service.<