RALEIGH, NC — During its first 14 seasons Carolina Ballet has introduced Triangle area audiences to 23 ballets choreographed by the legendary George Balanchine, founder and artistic director of New York City Ballet and mentor to Robert Weiss.  For this program that runs October 11-28 at the A. J. Fletcher Theater of the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh,  Robert Weiss has selected five Balanchine ballets to show his dancers in the best light – Apollo, Who Cares?, Agon Pas de Deux, Valse Fantaisie and Tarantella.  The schedule of performances is as follows:

            Thursday, October 11 at 8pm

Friday, October 12 at 8pm

Saturday October 13, 20 & 27 at 2pm & 8pm

Sunday, October 14, 21 & 28 at 2pm

One of Balanchine’s early ballets, Apollo was choreographed to music by Igor Stravinsky for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and first presented in Paris in 1928.  Its first American production was in 1937 at the Metropolitan Opera House.   To the Greeks, Apollo represented many things, but for the purposes of Balanchine’s ballet Stravinsky focused on Apollo as he is associated with the arts and his relationship with the Muses – Calliope (poetry), Polyhymnia (mime) and Terpsichore (dance).

Who Cares? is Balanchine’s tribute to Broadway and the Gershwin brothers with whom he had a long and very close relationship.  Balanchine choreographed the ballet in 1970 to celebrate the 100th birthday of George Gershwin.  He chose 16 songs that Gershwin composed from 1924-1931 to portray an American exuberance charged with the distinctive energy of Manhattan.  Artistic Director Robert Weiss says “Balanchine wanted the audience to be dancing in the aisles as they left the theater after seeing a performance of Who Cares?.”

The other ballets on the program further show the breadth of Balanchine’s artistry – Valse Fantaisie is a small romantic ballet to music of Mikhail Glinka.  It features a pas de deux couple and four additional women.  Weiss says “it is deceptively simple in its steps but fiendishly difficult to execute.”

The two pas de deux are also very different.  Agon Pas de Deux is another collaborative effort with Igor Stravinsky.  Agon, the ballet from which the pas de deux is taken, premiered in 1957 and was a sensation.  It was the first of Balanchine’s “black and white ballets” which, Terry Teachout explains in his book All in the Dances, were a “long series of works he [Balanchine] would set to twentieth century music and present in practice clothes on a bare stage..”   Tarantella, on the other hand, is a light hearted pas deux to music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk that Balanchine choreographed for vibrant, athletic dancers – taking his cue from Italian street dancers who would entertain the crowds in village squares, who in turn would throw coins into a tambourine to show their appreciation.

Ticket prices for A Balanchine Celebration range from $28-66 and are available by calling the Carolina Ballet box office at 919 719-0900 or through Ticketmaster at 800 982-2787.


Now into the fifteenth season, Carolina Ballet, Inc. has taken its place among America’s premier arts organizations.  Under the innovative direction of artistic director Robert Weiss, a talented company, fiscally responsible management and community support, Carolina Ballet continues to expose audiences to traditional ballet by legendary masters and new works of contemporary choreographers.  The company reflects the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and ever-increasing quality of life experienced in North Carolina.

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