OVERVIEW

Houston Ballet's 2016/17 Mixed Rep Program Director's Choice: Legends and Prodigy Featured:

Hans van Manen's Grosse Fuge (1971), the Houston Ballet premiere of Jiří Kylián's Stepping Stones (1991), and the Houston Ballet Premiere of Justin Peck's Year of the Rabbit (2012).

"IN LEGENDS AND PRODIGY OLD MASTERS LIKE JIŘÍ KYLIÁN AND HANS VAN MANEN FIND THEMSELVES IN THE EXCELLENT COMPANY OF THE PRECOCIOUS JUSTIN PECK. IT’S CLEAR WHO’S A LEGEND AND WHO’S A PRODIGY, BUT EACH TELESCOPES TIME IN A MARVELOUSLY DIFFERENT WAY."

CULTURE MAP

SYNOPSIS

Stepping Stones Description

Stepping Stones, a ballet for eight dancers, is set to John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano and Anton Webern’s Six Bagatelles for String Quartet, and acts as a reflection on the handing-on of cultural heritage. Kylián created the ballet in 1991 for the Stuttgart Ballet as a reverence to tradition and heritage. The dancers move with miniature copies of sculptures that range from prehistoric time to the time of Brancusi. All the while, they are watched by statues of Egyptian cats who have witnessed over 3,000 years of human evolution.

Grosse Fuge Description

Hans van Manen’s Grosse Fuge, originally created for Netherlands Dans Theater on April 8, 1971, is an abstract, contemporary work for eight dancers. Grosse Fuge examines love and relationships, a common theme in van Manen’s choreography.  It is set to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, Op. 133 and Cavatina Op. 130, one of the composer’s last works for string quartet. Pulitzer-Prize winning author and musician Edmund Morris recently observed that Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge is “deliberately harsh music that is cruel to play and cruel to listen to.  It’s like Beethoven wanted to push the body always beyond its own limits.” Beethoven’s aggressive music is reflected to some degree in van Manen’s choreography, which features vigorous male partnering, and strong group and ensemble work.  The costumes, designed by van Manen, are notable for the long, divided, Martha Graham-like skirts worn by the male dancers.

Year of the Rabbit Description

Rounding out the program is the company premiere of Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit. The ballet was Mr. Peck’s second work for New York City Ballet, and is a collaboration with American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. The ballet is set to Mr. Steven’s astrology-inspired electronica album and song cycle Enjoy Your Rabbit. Year of the Rabbit is an elaboration of Mr. Peck’s Tales of a Chinese Zodiac, which he created in 2010 for the New York Choreographic Institute. At the world premiere of Year of the Rabbit New York Times writer Brian Seibert enthused, “The plenitude is delightful rather than oppressive, because of the freshness and because of Mr. Peck’s precocious command of structure. To be offered so many wonders in succession is heady, but it is Mr. Peck’s brilliant transitions that make the mind want to keep up and help it do so.” (October 7, 2012).

EACH UNFOLDS AMID OTHERWORLDLY ATMOSPHERICS THAT MADE ME FEEL AS IF I WERE DRIFTING THROUGH SPACE, OR MAYBE DREAMS.

HOUSTON CHRONICLE

LEGENDS AND PRODIGY IS AN EVENING OF DANCE I WON'T SOON FORGET, AND IF YOU LOVE THE JOY OF MOVEMENT IN DANCE, YOU CAN'T DO BETTER THAN THIS.

BROADWAYWORLD

Watch the all new television spot for Legends and Prodigy.

ARTISTS

Jiří Kylián

CHOREOGRAPHER

Jiří Kylián has proven to be one of the world’s most influential choreographers and has had a profound impact on the world of dance. Born in Prague, Jiří Kylián studied at Prague National Theatre, Prague Conservatory and The Royal Ballet School in London before joining Stuttgart Ballet in 1968 under the direction of John Cranko. There Mr. Cranko helped cultivate Mr. Kylián as a student and choreographer which lead to him setting his first work for Stuttgart Ballet in 1970.  Mr. Kylián joined Nederlands Dans Theater in 1973 as a guest choreographer, and was appointed artistic director in 1978.

After joining Nederlands Dans Theater he created and realized over 60 productions for the company, including such works as: Sinfonietta (1978), Forgotten Land (1981), Bella Figura (1995), and Last Touch (2003).  In 1995 Mr. Kylián celebrated 20 years as artistic director with Nederlands Dans Theater with the large-scale production Arcimboldo as well as receiving Holland’s highest honor, Officier in de Orde van Oranje Nassau.  In 1999 Mr. Kylián retired as artistic director, but still has an active role as resident choreographer and artistic advisor with the company.”

John Cage

COMPOSER

John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher, and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage's romantic partner for most of their lives.

Hans van Manen

CHOREOGRAPHER

Mr. van Manen began to work with the Netherlands Dans Theater in 1960, first as a dancer, next as a choreographer, then as the artistic director (from 1961 to 1971).  For the following two years he worked as a freelance choreographer, then joined Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam in 1973.  Outside of the Netherlands, he has staged his ballets for many international companies.  In September 1988 Mr. van Manen rejoined Netherlands Dans Theater as a resident choreographer.  In the course of his career, he has created more than 100 works, 58 of which have been for Netherlands Dans Theater. Mr. van Manen has also been awarded numerous prizes.  In 1991 he received the Sonia Gaskell Prize for his entire body of work.  In 1992—his 35th year as a choreographer— he was knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands in the Order of Orange Nassau.”

Ludwig van Beethoven

COMPOSER

Ludwig van Beethoven (17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, his great Mass the Missa solemnis and an opera, Fidelio.

Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire, Beethoven displayed his musical talents at an early age and was taught by his father Johann van Beethoven and by composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe. At the age of 21 he moved to Vienna, where he began studying composition with Joseph Haydn, and gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. He lived in Vienna until his death. By his late 20s his hearing began to deteriorate, and by the last decade of his life he was almost totally deaf. In 1811 he gave up conducting and performing in public but continued to compose; many of his most admired works come from these last 15 years of his life.

Justin Peck

CHOREOGRAPHER

Justin Peck is currently a soloist dancer and the Resident Choreographer with New York City Ballet and has been hailed as an important new voice in 21st-century choreography. Mr. Peck, originally from San Diego, California, moved to New York at the age of 15 to attend the School of American Ballet.  In 2006 he joined New York City Ballet.

Since his debut as a choreographer in 2009, he has created works for the New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, the New York Choreographic Institute, the School of American Ballet, the Miami City Ballet, L.A. Dance Project, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Guggenheim Museum, NY Fall For Dance, the Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival, and more.  In 2013, he was nominated for the International Benois De La Danse Award for new choreography.  In 2015, Peck's ballet Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes won the Bessie Award for Outstanding Production.

In July of 2011, he was appointed by Peter Martins as the first active Choreographer-in-Residency of the New York Choreographic Institute for the 2011/2012 annual season. In 2014, Peck was appointed Resident Choreographer of New York City Ballet, making him the second choreographer in the history of the Institution to hold this position.”

Sufjan Stevens

COMPOSER

Sufjan Stevens (born July 1, 1975) is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He first came to wider recognition with the 2000 album, A Sun Came, which was released on the Asthmatic Kitty label he co-founded with his stepfather. He is perhaps best known for his 2005 album, Illinois, which hit number one on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart, and for the single "Chicago" from that album.

Stevens has released albums of varying styles, from the electronica of Enjoy Your Rabbit and the lo-fi folk of Seven Swans to the symphonic instrumentation of Illinois and Christmas-themed Songs for Christmas. Stevens makes use of a variety of instruments, often playing many of them himself on the same recording, and writes music in various time signatures. He has repeatedly stated an intent to separate his beliefs from his music.

HISTORY

STEPPING STONES REPERTOIRE HISTORY

This will be Houston Ballet’s first time performing Jiří Kylián's Stepping Stones. Other works by Kylián in Houston Ballet’s repertoire are Symphony in D, Sinfonietta, Forgotten Land, Svadebka, Falling Angels, Soldiers’ Mass, Sechs-Tanze, Petite Mort, and Wings of Wax.

STEPPING STONES PRODUCTION DETAILS

GENRE: Contemporary Ballet

RUN TIME: Ballet in 1 Act; 25 minutes

LOCATION: Brown Theater at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston, Texas

COMPOSERS: John Cage, Anton Webern 

SCORE: Cage's “Sonatas Nos. 3, 5, 11 and 16; Interludes Nos. 1 and 2” and Webern's “Six Bagatelles for String Quartet Op.9”

Original Premiere Date: November 23, 1991 for Stuttgart Ballet

Original Costume Design: Michael Simon

Original Set Design: Michael Simon

Original Lighting Design: Joke Visser

Stagers for Houston Ballet (2017): Fiona Lummis, Cora Bos Kroese, and Ken Ossola

BALLET MASTER (2017): Steven Woodgate

HOUSTON BALLET ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR (2017): Ermanno Florio and David LaMarche

HOUSTON BALLET STAGE MANAGER (2017): Josh Daniels

HOUSTON BALLET ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER (2017): Vanessa Chumbley

GROSSE FUGE REPERTOIRE HISTORY

This will be Houston Ballet’s second time performing Hans van Manen's Grosse Fugue. Other works by van Manen in Houston Ballet’s repertoire are Adagio Hammerklavier, Five Tangos, and Solo.

GROSSE FUGUE PRODUCTION DETAILS

GENRE: Contemporary Ballet

RUN TIME: Ballet in 1 Act; 25 minutes

LOCATION: Brown Theater at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston, Texas

COMPOSERS: Ludwig van Beethoven

SCORE: Beethoven's “Grosse Fugue, Op. 133” and “Cavatina, Op. 130”

Original Premiere Date: April 8, 1971 by Netherlands Dance Theater in Scheveningen, Netherlands

Original Costume Design: Hans van Manen

Original Set Design: Jean-Paul Vroom

Original Lighting Design: Jan Hofstra

HOUSTON BALLET PREMIERE DATE: September 7, 2006 at the Brown Theater in Houston, TX

Stagers for Houston Ballet (2017): Mae Venema

BALLET MASTER (2017): Louise Lester

HOUSTON BALLET ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR (2017): Ermanno Florio and David LaMarche

HOUSTON BALLET STAGE MANAGER (2017): Josh Daniels

HOUSTON BALLET ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER (2017): Vanessa Chumbley

YEAR OF THE RABBIT REPERTOIRE HISTORY

This will be Houston Ballet’s first time performing Year of the Rabbit and first work by Justin Peck.

YEAR OF THE RABBIT PRODUCTION DETAILS

GENRE: Contemporary Ballet

RUN TIME: Ballet in 1 Act; 30 minutes

LOCATION: Brown Theater at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston, Texas

COMPOSERS: Sufjan Stevens, Orchestration and arrangement for strings by Michael P. Atkinson

SCORE: Selections from Run Rabbit Run (2001)

Original Premiere Date: October 5, 2012 at the David H. Koch Theater by New York City Ballet

Original Costume Design: Justin Peck, supervised by Marc Happel

Original Lighting Design: Brandon Stirling Baker

Stagers for Houston Ballet (2017): Craig Hall and Zoe Zien with Justin Peck

BALLET MASTER (2017): Barbara Bears

HOUSTON BALLET ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR (2017): Ermanno Florio and David LaMarche

HOUSTON BALLET STAGE MANAGER (2017): Josh Daniels

HOUSTON BALLET ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER (2017): Vanessa Chumbley

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