Thursday, March 28, 2002

Ballet leaps into 40th year

Season opens with tribute to former artistic director

By Carol Norris
Enquirer contributor

        Cincinnati Ballet will celebrate its 40th anniversary next season (2002-03) with a far-reaching look to the past and a few glimpses at the future.

        The season begins in October with an intriguing program, a gala event to honor Frederic Franklin, the company's artistic director emeritus. (He was Cincinnati Ballet's choreographer-in-residence 1977-83 and 1986 and acting artistic director in 1984-85.)

    Oct. 18-19: Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo Festival/Frederic Franklin Tribute, plus a new work by Julia Adam
    Nov. 15-17: Sleeping Beauty
Feb. 14-16: A Midsummer Night's Dream
    March 7-8: Come Together Festival with works by Trey McIntyre, George Balanchine and Dwight Rhoden
    Dec. 18-23: Nutcracker
April 4-6: Carmina Burana and Serenade
        After more than 70 years actively pursuing his ballet dreams (and still going strong at age 88) , he'll be honored with a tribute to his Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo career. (Originally organized and based in Europe, this company enjoyed great success touring the United States from 1938 to the early 1960s.)

        Three ballets in which Mr. Franklin starred from 1938-39 have been selected. He will stage them all: Frederick Ashton's “Devil's Holiday,” plus two works by Leonide Massine, “Saint Francis” and “Gaite Parisienne.” A later George Balanchine work that featured Mr. Franklin as the poet, “La Sonnambula” (1946), will be restaged with the assistance of former New York City ballet dancer and choreographer Bart Cook.

        As a tie-in, Cincinnati Art Museum will present an exhibit of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo costume sketches and vintage costumes. The Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County will have displays and resource materials available on the history of ballet.

        “These are works that are special to him. He's done them all and has salvaged them from obscurity because they're worth it,” executive director Alan Hills said about the Franklin tributes. “We're re-creating the costumes for our dancers to wear. We've found original sketches with the help of (local dance historian) Janet Light.”

        The season's full-length selections lean to family entertainment: Kirk Peterson's Sleeping Beauty, a version never performed here, and a new A Midsummer Night's Dream by artistic director Victoria Morgan. Val Caniparoli's Nutcracker again will fill the December slot locally, after touring to Detroit and Anchorage, Alaska.

        In Ms. Morgan's continual push to feature up-and-coming choreographers, Mr. Hills says, contemporary stagings will include “... a very jazzy piece by Trey McIntyre, resident choreographer for Houston Ballet. It's set to the songs of Etta James,” with a guest singer to be announced. Premieres are being created by New York's Dwight Rhoden and San Francisco Ballet's Julia Adam.

        Other works look back to the company's long history and will be familiar to regular ballet-goers. With the dates they were originally performed by Cincinnati Ballet, they are: John Butler's sensuous Carmina Burana (1985), set to Carl Orff's popular score, and Mr. Balanchine's Concerto Barocco (Bach, 1972) and Serenade (Tchaikovsky, 1973). Serenade sets a company record with its 13th scheduled performance.

        Performances take place at the Procter & Gamble Hall, Aronoff Center for the Arts, except for Nutcracker, which will be performed in Music Hall. Most concerts will feature live music with Carmon DeLeone conducting the Cincinnati Ballet Orchestra.

        Subscriptions are $55 to $275 and are available at Cincinnati Ballet box office: 621-5282. Individual tickets go on sale Sept. 1 and have increased from $9 to $11 for the least expensive matinee ticket and from $51 to $55 for the most expensive. They will be available at the Music Hall and Aronoff box offices and through Ticketmaster, 241-7469.        

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