American Repertory Ballet Presents CARMEN
This October, American Repertory Ballet (ARB) will present a new triple-bill program in New York City and in New Brunswick, N.J. The performance features work by American Repertory Ballet's Resident Choreographers Kirk Peterson and Mary Barton: Peterson's Carmen and The Eyes that Gently Touch and Barton's Straight Up with a Twist.
On Thursday, October 12, ARB will perform at State Theatre New Jersey in Downtown New Brunswick on Thursday, October 12 at 8 p.m. This performance will feature live accompaniment by the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Kynan Johns. Tickets: $27-57, $15 Rutgers University students with promo code RU15 (must present valid I.D.) are available online at http://www.arballet.org/event/carmennj/ or by calling the State Theatre ticket office at (732)246-7469
Earlier in the month, on Thursday, October 5, the same program will be performed at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on West 59th Street in Manhattan. Tickets: $35-$55, $15 students with promo code STUDENT (must preset valid I.D.) are available online at http://www.arballet.org/event/carmennyc/
The program opens with Kirk Peterson's The Eyes that Gently Touch, set to the driving rhythms of Philip Glass' Mad Rush, culminating in a dance replete with romance and thrilling movement. Next is Mary Barton's Straight Up with a Twist (an ARB signature performance since its inception), a work set to the eclectic sounds of Kaila Flexer and Third Ear, which showcases the versatility of ARB's dancers and Barton's unique choreographic voice. The performance concludes with a company premiere: Peterson's Carmen. Based on Georges Bizet's opera, Peterson tells the tale of Carmen, a passionate, free-spirited woman, the fickle Don José and her love triangle between Don José and popular bullfighter Escamillo.
Straight Up with a Twist, which premiered in 2011, was the first piece she created for ARB, blending Barton's rich senses of narrative and neo-classicism. It has become a hallmark work in the company's repertory.
"I am aimed to create a fresh, enthusiastic, playful mood, with a little sensuality thrown in," Barton explains.
"Many dancers have danced multiple roles in the ballet," says ARB Artistic Director Douglas Martin, who is also Barton's husband and former dance partner at the Joffrey Ballet and later ARB. "It's been truly exciting to watch the piece evolve along with the company."
ARB originally premiered The Eyes that Gently Touch in 1999 and most recently revived it in 2012. Reviewing this revival, dance critic Robert Johnson characterized the work as a "contemporary classic." He also wrote about the work in Dance Magazine: "Peterson's inventive and musical handling of a demanding range of ballet steps, and the work's careful structure, made the piece a delight to watch." The work has been referred to as both spectacular and poetic - a balance of lyricism and stirring physicality.
Peterson originally created Carmen for Cincinnati Ballet, and these October 2017 performances mark ARB's premiere of the work.
"The original creation of the Carmen Suite by Rodion Shchedrin, instigated by the great ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, was meant to be interpreted as dance," Peterson explains. "I wished to explore different aspects of the Novella not previously highlighted. This Carmen is my response to this exciting score."
"I had been inspired to choreograph it in 1970 upon first hearing the exciting Shchedrin/Bizet Suite. It took 28 years for me to bring my ideas to the stage in 1998 for Cincinnati Ballet. I was so thrilled when Douglas Martin asked me to revive my Carmen for ARB this season. I look forward to revisiting this piece and to be inspired by the ARB dancers for this reinterpretation."
About Kirk Peterson
Kirk Peterson had a distinguished career for 17 years with American Ballet Theatre as principal dancer, choreographer, Artistic Director of ABTII, Ballet Master, Principal Character Artist and as Master Teaching Associate. Peterson was also Artistic Director of the Hartford Ballet for five years. As a choreographer, Peterson has created over 50 ballets including new versions of The Firebird and Le Sacre du Printemps. His choreography has been seen with San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Washington Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, BalletMet, San Francisco Opera and The Royal Ballet School. He is a specialist in re-staging the full-length classical repertoire such as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle utilizing original choreography and technique. He was nominated for the prestigeous Prix Benois de la Danse in Moscow for Othello, created for Alberta Ballet. Peterson was resident choreographer for Cincinnati Ballet for six years and he is also a repetiteur for the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust. American Repertory Ballet restaged Peterson's Glazunov Variations for the 2010-2011 Season and The Eyes That Gently Touch for the 2011-2012 Season. In 2013, Peterson choreographed Tears of the Moon for American Repertory Ballet, fulfilling his long-held desire to create a work to music by Beethoven.
About Mary Barton
Mary Barton received her dance training at The Washington School of Ballet under the direction of Mary Day and participated in summer courses at the School of American Ballet and Joffrey Ballet School. Her professional experience began when she performed with The Washington Ballet as a soloist in Balanchine's Scotch Symphony and in the principal role in Tom Paczik's Tzigane. Early professional credits include the Oldenburg Staat Ballet in Germany and several seasons with Dayton Ballet. In 1986, Ms. Barton joined the Joffrey Ballet/NY where she performed a variety of roles in the great ballets of the 20th century. Robert Joffrey created the role of Clara for her in the world premiere of his new Nutcracker. Ms. Barton was featured along with Gerald Arpino in an interview with Charlie Rose for the world premiere of Robert Joffrey's Nutcracker. Ms. Barton TV credits include performances in Dance in America on PBS and she was an original cast member of the historic recreation of Nijinsky's Le Sacre du printemps. From 1993-2004, Ms. Barton was a principal dancer with American Repertory Ballet. Ms. Barton has been on the faculty of the Princeton Ballet School since 1994 and is one of the primary teachers and choreographers for the Summer Intensive. She is a former ballet faculty member at Princeton University and current faculty at Rider University's Music Theater Department.
For more information, visit arballet.org or call (609)921-7758.
American Repertory Ballet/Princeton Ballet School is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.
PHOTO: Nanako Yamamoto; credit Richard Termine