Ballet West: Balanchine’s America 

Friday, April 9 - Saturday, April 10; Wednesday, April 14 - Saturday, April 17

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Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, as Giorgi Melitonis dze Balanchivadze, George Balanchine is commonly credited as being the father of ballet in the United States. Having first made his name in Paris as a famed Russian defector, Balanchine was quickly drawn to America, where he helped found the storied New York City Ballet, subsequently cementing his name in the history of modern ballet. For its part, Ballet West has had a long and distinguished relationship with this 20th-century master, and aims to celebrate the birth of ballet on this side of the pond with a triple-bill titled Balanchine’s America.

Fittingly, the very first ballet he ever choreographed after coming to these shores will open the evening-length program. Set to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, Balanchine’s Serenade highlights both his love of music and his deft ability to choreograph amazing works without the aid of a clear narrative. The centerpiece and spotlight of the evening is a Ballet West premiere of another classic, Agon. Set to music by his contemporary, Igor Stravinsky, this work culminates in an energetic, even erotic, pas de deux that exemplifies the modern sensibilities Balanchine was dramatically infusing into traditional ballet.

Closing the bill is perhaps Balanchine’s most American ballet of all: Stars & Stripes, a work in five “campaigns” set to the inspirational marches of John Philip Sousa. This gesture to his adoptive country is certainly full of patriotic flourishes but also contains the Balanchine hallmarks that bestow the master his rightful place in ballet repertory companies the country over.

Ballet West: Balanchine’s America @ Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 801- 355-ARTS, April 9-10 and 14-17, 7:30 p.m. ArtTix.org, BalletWest.org

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