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The Washington Ballet Announces Participation In JFK CENTENNIAL WEEK, 5/23-29

The Washington Ballet Announces Participation In JFK CENTENNIAL WEEK, 5/23-29

Artistic Director Julie Kent is pleased to announce participation in The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts JFK Centennial Week, May 23-29, 2017 with three performances (May 25-27) of a mixed repertoire program that includes Antony Tudor's Lilac Garden (Jardin aux Lilas), Frederick Ashton's The Dream and the world premiere of her first commissioned work, Frontier, by Choreographer and former American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Ethan Stiefel with a commissioned score by Adam Crystal; the program is performed to live orchestra. Tickets for these performances are on sale now at the Kennedy Center. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is presenting a weeklong celebration to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of its namesake, the late President John F. Kennedy-a culmination of yearround programming dedicated to JFK, whose 100th birthday would have been May 29. Special performances from May 23-29 span theater programs, dance, music, and the return of the Center's popular Open House, which all memorialize the life and legacy of America's 35th President. In addition to three performances of Tudor/Ashton/World Premiere of Frontier, TWB will present a free event in the Kennedy Center Opera House on Saturday, May 27 at 1:30PM in a program that includes Frontier and The Dream. Tickets for this performance will be available from the Kennedy Center on May 27.

Stiefel was inspired by President Kennedy and his aspirations for America as a leader of artistic, cultural and intellectual excellence. His historic May 25, 1961 "Urgent Needs" address to the United States Congress serves as the impetus for this work. The seminal speech launched what became a legacy in U.S. space travel and exploration. Stiefel investigates space exploration through the perspective of the astronaut, delving into the emotional and physical rigors required for space travel. While Kennedy used space as a model for national achievement, Stiefel uses his art as a conveyance for this message and for Kennedy's affirmation that America must fulfill a desire to achieve and be exceptional in the arts.

While Stiefel was inspired by President Kennedy to develop a work based on space exploration, Kent was inspired by the President's dedication to "press ahead to develop an independent artistic force and power of our own." In commissioning Ethan, Kent stresses that "Ethan is a dancer who was classically trained in the United States and who has made a contribution to the performance and dance education realms both here and abroad having risen to principal dancer in two of our nation's most elite ballet companies while also being invited as a guest artist throughout the world. He is an example of the American ability to develop and nurture artists with a unique sensibility. President Kennedy's desire to focus national attention on the role of arts in America and to encourage the development of Washington as a cultural center makes it most appropriate that we commissioned this work and present its world premiere in The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. I could think of no better emerging choreographer to create a work around the JFK Centenary". Kent is particularly pleased that the work will premiere at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House as this is consistent with President Kennedy's desire to develop Washington as a cultural center. She is "gratified that TWB is invited to participate in this celebratory weekend that acknowledges President Kennedy's unique contribution to the arts and as a performing arts company located in the nation's capital, this is a special opportunity to highlight our dynamic company which was founded in Washington, DC."

Stiefel is an internationally celebrated dancer, instructor, coach, director and choreographer, and currently the principal guest instructor at American Ballet Theatre. Stiefel served as a principal dancer at ABT from 1997 thru his retirement in 2012 and began his professional career at age 16 with New York City Ballet where he quickly rose to principal dancer and served in that same capacity at Zurich Ballet prior to joining ABT. He performed leading roles in all of the full-length classics and danced in an extensive range of shorter works created by the most celebrated classical, modern and contemporary choreographers. He served as artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) from 2011-2014. Just prior to his appointment at RNZB he served as Dean of the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). As a choreographer, Stiefel created a new staging of The Nutcracker for UNCSA; a one act comedic ballet, Bier Halle; and he collaborated with Johan Kobborg on choreographing and producing a new production of Giselle for the RNZB. Giselle was adapted into a feature film in 2013. He recently choreographed a new work for the top level of ABT's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, Knightlife, performed at The Joyce Theater in New York in April 2013; he also choreographed a collaborative work on the ABT Studio Company and the Royal Ballet School, See the Youth Advance! that premiered at London's Covent Garden in May 2016. Stiefel served as choreographer for the 2015 limited edition television series for STARZ network, Flesh and Bone.

Musician and Composer Adam Crystal is creating an original score. Crystal's recent compositions include Canvas, premiered at the Vail International Ballet Festival; Final Dress for the Royal New Zealand Ballet and Ballroom Dance, for Works and Process at the Guggenheim Museum. Earlier this year, his RUSH HOUR premiered at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts with Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance and the Orchestra of St. Luke's.

The commission will be presented for three performances from May 25 through May 27, 2017, and tickets start at $25. Tickets are on sale at the Kennedy Center and at


Saturday, May 27, 2017, 12 p.m.-10 p.m. with world premiere commission and activities for all In celebration of John F. Kennedy's 100th birthday, the Kennedy Center will host an Open House. This free event welcomes the public to explore and experience the performing arts through the halls, theaters, and plazas of the Kennedy Center through more than 30 free performances, activities and events for all ages and tastes. The arts program will feature artists from across the U.S., the Washington, D.C. region and abroad. Full information is available at

Tudor/Ashton/World Premiere
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House
Thursday, May 25, 7:30PM Friday, May 26, 7:30PM Saturday, May 27, 7:30PM
*Working Title

Lilac Garden (Jardin aux Lilas) Set in the Edwardian period, a young woman is betrothed to a man she does not wish to marry. Tudor has been referred to as the creator of the psychological ballet.
Choreography Antony Tudor
Music Ernest Chausson
Poème for violin and orchestra, opus. 28 performed by The Washington Ballet Orchestra under conductor Martin West

World Premiere

Choreography Ethan Stiefel
Music Adam Crystal performed by The Washington Ballet Orchestra under conductor Martin West

The Dream
Company Premiere
A delightful interpretation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Choreography Sir Frederick Ashton Music Felix Mendelssohn performed by The Washington Ballet Orchestra under conductor Martin West

Information at Tickets start at $25. Tickets at or 202.467.4600 or 800.444.1324

More About Ethan Stiefel: Stiefel has appeared as a guest artist throughout the world with The Royal Ballet, The Mariinsky Ballet, New York City Ballet, Australian Ballet, Zürich Ballet, Bayerische Staatsballett, Hamburg Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, Teatro Colon, New National Theatre (Tokyo), Kings of the Dance and numerous tours in the United States, Japan, Russia and throughout Europe. He is a valued juror and 5 was invited to serve on the jury of the 2015 Prix de Lausanne and 2014 Paris Opera Ballet 2014 promotion exam. Stiefel is the recipient of the prestigious Dance Magazine Award (2008) and the Statue Award of the Princess Grace Foundation, the Foundation's highest honor, awarded by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Albert of Monaco (1999). He starred in the feature film Center Stage and returned to play the role of CooPer Nielsen in Center Stage 2 - Turn It Up and Center Stage - On Pointe. Stiefel's television and video credits include The Dream, Le Corsaire, Die Fledermaus, Gossip Girl and the documentary, Born to be Wild.

More About Adam Crystal: In addition to his commissioned compositions, Crystal has extensive work in film and television including compositions in the Academy Award Winning films of Errol Morris and Cynthia Wade; the STARZ network mini-series Flesh and Bone, Showtime's Happyish; HBO's Divorce and Discovery's Vanity Fair Confidential, and his shows have been nominated for Emmy's, Golden Globes and have premiered at festival around the world.

Martin West, Music Director and Principal Conductor, is acknowledged as one of the foremost conductors of ballet, garnering critical acclaim throughout the world. Born in Bolton, England, he studied math at St. Catharine's College, Cambridge University, before studying at the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music and London's Royal Academy of Music. In fall 2005, West joined San Francisco Ballet as music director having been a frequent guest since his debut two years earlier. He was previously principal conductor of English National Ballet and has worked with many of the top companies in North America such as New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada as well as The Royal Ballet in England. West has worked with the Hallé Orchestra, Holland Symfonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Odense Symphony Orchestra in Denmark. He made his U.S. symphonic conducting debut with Silicon Valley Symphony, resulting in an immediate re-invitation.

In his ten years as music director he has been credited with raising the standard and profile of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and has made a number of critically acclaimed recordings with them, including the complete scores of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, excerpts from Delibes' Coppélia and 6 Sylvia, and a CD of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky cello music. He and the Orchestra have also made many world premiere recordings, including music by composers such as Bizet, Moszkowski, Shinji Eshima, C.F.Kip Winger, and Maury Yeston whose full-length ballet Tom Sawyer was recorded in 2013. In addition, he conducted on the award-winning DVD of John Neumeier's The Little Mermaid as well as Helgi Tomasson's productions of Nutcracker for PBS and Romeo & Juliet for Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance.

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