The upcoming dance season will bring diverse programming to the Amphitheater stage, mixing Balanchine with Vaganova, and “white ballets” with neoclassical, contemporary pieces, making dance accessible to enthusiasts, prima ballerinas and non-dancers alike.
Beyond the shows — roughly a dozen — hitting the Amp this summer, Chautauquans will also be able to interact with dance through Special Studies classes, open rehearsals, pre-show discussions with the Chautauqua Dance Circle and informal showings. This makes dance personable, said Deborah Sunya Moore, vice president of performing and visual arts.
“One of my biggest hopes for the dance season is that people can interact with dance, and that they will not only be inspired but that they will have an opportunity to touch it, to do it,” she said.
Daniel Ulbricht’s Stars of American Ballet — featuring New York City Ballet soloists and principal dancers — will open the season at 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday with its debut performance in the Amp.
Stars of American Ballet’s playbill offers “five distinct voices,” Ulbricht said: George Balanchine’s treasured “Apollo;” Jerome Robbins’ “Suite of Dances,” complete with his signature somersaults and cartwheels; a ballroom number; a darker, neoclassical piece; and “Tres Hombres,” a fusion of ballet, hip-hop and ballroom.
“My hope is that this program is able to allow people to kind of have some ownership over the program, and ultimately become fans of (ballet) themselves,” said Ulbricht, an alumnus of the Chautauqua School of Dance.
Ulbricht, who first stepped onto the grounds in 1997, will also be teaching classes in the School of Dance during Week One, and said he is excited to see the next generation of talent.
During Week Two, Charlotte Ballet will begin its residency at the Institution with “International Series.” The performance on July 3 will include the balcony pas de deux from “Romeo and Juliet,” solos by Merce Cunningham and “IN Cognito” by choreographer Helen Pickett, which the company premiered in April.
“(The) works will cover a broad performance spectrum, from classical ballet to modern dance, and showcase iconic and well-established choreographers,” said Charlotte Ballet’s Artistic Director Hope Muir. “Look for a range of works from distinguished artists.”
Charlotte Ballet will return in Week Four for “Made in Charlotte,” a selection of commissioned works that highlight “the versatility of the company,” Muir said.
Three of the works — “Essence of Numbers,” “Sonnet 116” and “A Road to Pieces” — were choreographed by dancers within the company; the final piece, “Unsex Me Here,” is part of a collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Between Charlotte Ballet’s residencies, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will return to the Amp stage with “Sleeping Beauty,” accompanied by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s musical score under the direction of conductor Rossen Milanov. Excerpts of “Sleeping Beauty” will feature select students from the Chautauqua School of Dance, and the CSO’s concert will be the second of three in its inaugural “Russian Festival.”
PBT will also perform “Rubies,” the electric second movement of Balanchine’s “Jewels,” set to Igor Stravinksy’s “Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra,” which will feature renowned pianist William Wolfram. Wolfram will also teach a master class to students at the School of Music.
Nearing the end of the season, Chautauqua Dance “superstars,” in Moore’s words, will return for the Alumni Dance Gala, directed by Sasha Janes, director of artistic studies for the School of Dance.
The Paul Taylor Dance Company will also be in residence during Week Seven, “Grace: A Celebration of Extraordinary Gifts.” Their two performances, Wednesday, Aug. 7, and Saturday, Aug. 10, will highlight the work of founder and modern-dance visionary, Paul Taylor, who died last summer.
“(Taylor) and this company are really an American icon,” Moore said. “With such an icon like that, who really defined so many things about American modern dance, we’re really excited that they are celebrating his legacy here.”
The company’s Saturday show will be in collaboration with the CSO and will include Taylor’s final work, “Concertiana,” completed just before his death, with music by Eric Ewazen.
Taylor’s traveling company, Taylor 2, will also host classes through Special Studies for both dancers and non-dancers, mini-performances, open rehearsals and pre-concert discussions.
To close the season in Week Eight, Pilobolus will be in residence, workshopping new pieces for their 50th anniversary season, giving Chautauquans a “sneak peek into the process,” Moore said.
“That’s my biggest hope for dance: that it’s not only something to see on the stage, … but that they can also be involved in it,” she said.