Ballet San Antonio will take the stage for their final performances of the 2015-2016 season this weekend, April 8-10, at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Building on the successful seasonal concept of Ballet Alive, the company will present five unique pieces in the dance showcase led by artistic director Willy Shives. Performances will take place in the H-E-B Performance Hall on Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m., and again on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The program offers something for everyone, in a range of styles designed to showcase the company’s versatility. Shives first took the helm brought at Ballet SA in Dec. 2015. Since then, the company has performed the full-length ballet Peter Pan, choreographed by Peter Anastos, and treated the community to a free production of Ballet in the Park in March. It was during this performance at Travis Park that we were given a glimpse of two pieces, choreographed by Shives, that we will also see in the program this weekend.
Solace is a passionate contemporary pas de deux which maximizes Shives’s affinity for the essence of this form. This is a new work originally set on soloists Kate Maxted and Christopher McDaniel. They handled the piece beautifully and we look forward to seeing more from these two. The dance is set to Cavatina, a classical guitar piece made famous by guitarist John Williams.
The second Shives contribution, A Tropical Fiesta, runs in the opposite direction. Shives originally conceived and staged this ballet in 2010, taking inspiration from the music of American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk. The piece has been expanded and re-choreographed especially for San Antonio audiences, with the addition of music by Richard Haymen.
“This one takes you from Samba to La Bamba,” Shives said of the ballet piece. “A night in the tropics, no passport required.” It is like one big pachanga featuring the entire company.
Shives returns to his Joffrey Ballet roots through Gerald Arpino’s Confetti, first performed in Chicago in 1970. This is a classic virtuoso ballet for three couples, complete with tutus and tambourines. The divertissement is intricate and brash. The rehearsal was a startling experience– seeing the dancers hurtling through space at a breakneck pace to the music of Gioacchino Rossini.
Tribute was originally created for the Ballet Russe in 1961 by the legendary Premiere Danseur Frederick Franklin. This ballet is also meant for three couples, but runs in the neoclassical vein, and includes precision footwork for the ballerinas and huge jumps for the men. Paired with Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra by César Franck, the piece is meant for dancers who perform at the highest levels of technique.
Last but not least, audiences will be treated to an exquisite contemporary ballet by choreographer Dominic Walsh, formerly a principal dancer with Houston Ballet. Walsh has worked extensively with the company over the last few years, serving as the répétiteur for works by Ben Stevenson including Cinderella, Romeo & Juliet and Swan Lake, which was the season opener.
Walsh’s The Whistling was first set on Ballet Austin in 2010. Choreographed to a musical compilation from the soundtracks Before Night Falls and Las Canciones de Almodóvar, the music evokes the sultry heat of Cuba. This is perhaps the most challenging work for the company because of the element of modern dance. The movements are akin to the athletic, languid style that we might see from choreographers like Paul Taylor or Twyla Tharp. The performance is an exciting and forward-moving choice for the company.
Although the company’s current season is coming to a close, Ballet San Antonio will announce the coming lineup for the 2016-2017 season on Friday, April 8. Individuals who become season ticket holders are able to save as much as 48% on tickets throughout the season, in addition to supporting the forward momentum for professional ballet in San Antonio.
Tickets are available at the Tobin Box Office, 100 Auditorium Circle, by phone at (210)223-8624, or online via the TOBi Box Office. Individual tickets start at $29.
*Top image: Carly Hammond and Daniel Westfield en penché. “Confetti” rehearsal, April 2016. Photo by Tami Kegley.