Performing Arts

Texas Ballet Theater to stage ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Henry VIII’

Texas Ballet Theater will bring back Ben Stevenson’s “Mozart Requiem,” which the company last performed in 2008.
Texas Ballet Theater will bring back Ben Stevenson’s “Mozart Requiem,” which the company last performed in 2008. jlmarshall@star-telegram.com

In recent seasons, Texas Ballet Theater has elevated its national status by commissioning new works from rising and established choreographers such as Jonathan Watkins, Val Caniparoli, Carlos Acosta and Garrett Smith, not to mention company premieres of work by internationally known names such as Christopher Wheeldon and Ohad Naharin.

For its 2017-18 season, the company will stick with the latter trend, with a 2009 piece by American Ballet Theatre’s Alexei Ratmansky (“Seven Sonatas”), but its world premieres will come from within the company, including a new ballet by artistic director Ben Stevenson (“Martinu Pieces”), and the first story ballet by principal dancer Carl Coomer, the hour-long “Henry VIII.”

“The dancers are so thrilled to be learning a new Ben piece,” says Vanessa Logan, TBT’s executive director, who was hired a few weeks before the company’s 2016-17 season began.

The new season will have three full-length ballets, all with music by Tchaikovsky (Lew Christensen’s 1958 ballet “Beauty and the Beast,” and Stevenson’s “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake”), and all with performances in Fort Worth’s Bass Hall and Dallas’ Winspear Opera House. In March, there will be two mixed repertory programs at Bass Hall only.

Every dance will be performed to live music except “The Nutcracker” (which has too many performances to afford a live orchestra, TBT says) and Coomer’s “Henry VIII.” The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will accompany Bass Hall performances, with the exception of “Seven Sonatas,” which will have a pianist provided by the Cliburn; Dallas performances will be accompanied by the Dallas Opera Orchestra.

The company is also touting a future premiere; in the 2018-19 season, it will partner with the National Ballet of Canada for the American premiere of “Pinocchio,” featuring choreography by Will Tuckett and music by Paul Englishby. Subscribers to the 2017-18 season will get first shot at tickets to “Pinocchio.”

That connection happened because Logan invited NBC executive director Barry Hughson to view TBT’s September 2016 performances of Acosta’s “Carmen” and Wheeldon’s “DGV.”

“I think whatever partnerships and collaborations come our way are beneficial, like we did with ‘Carmen’ and the Royal Ballet,” Logan says. “My background comes from community building and partnership building; there’s always room for more collaboration.”

Another collaboration in the new season is with the University of Texas at Austin’s costume design program. Six students pitched costume designs for “Henry VIII,” and Coomer selected those of Aaron Kubacak.

Coomer previously has choreographed short ballets “Evolving” (2012) and “Clann” (2014), and “Henry VIII” has been a concept in development for several seasons.

As artistic director, Stevenson curates the seasons, but Logan, who has extensive ballet credentials, says she is thrilled to be part of TBT’s programming team.

“It is [Stevenson’s] vision,” she says, “but it is an honor for him to even ask ‘what do you think?’ 

2017-18 Texas Ballet Theater season

Beauty and the Beast

  • Choreography by Lew Christensen, music by Tchaikovsky
  • Winspear Opera House, Dallas, accompanied by Dallas Opera Orchestra: Sept. 7-10
  • Bass Hall, Fort Worth, accompanied by Fort Worth Symphony: Sept. 29-Oct. 1
  • Christensen choreographed “Beauty and the Beast” in 1958 for the San Francisco Ballet’s 25th anniversary, based on the traditional story. “It’s a gorgeous ballet,” Logan says. “It’s an older ballet, so it will resonate with people who love those three-act ballets — it’s a wonderful addition to TBT’s repertoire.”

The Nutcracker

  • Choreography by Ben Stevenson, music by Tchaikovsky
  • Winspear Opera House: Nov. 24-Dec. 3
  • Bass Hall: Dec. 8-24

The Nutty Nutcracker

  • Bass Hall, Dec. 15

Mixed Repertoire

  • Bass Hall, March 2-4, 2018
  • Includes “Henry VIII,” a world premiere with choreography by Carl Coomer and music by Gustav Holst; and “Seven Sonatas,” with choreography by Alexei Ratmansky and music by Domenico Scarlatti, accompanied by a pianist from The Cliburn.
  • Ratmansky was born in St. Petersburg, trained at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, and has won numerous awards throughout his career. He was named artistic director for the Bolshoi Ballet in 2004, and the resident choreographer for American Ballet Theatre in 2009.

Mixed Repertoire

  • Bass Hall, March 29-31, 2018
  • Includes “Mozart Requiem” with choreography by Ben Stevenson and music by Mozart; and “Martinu Pieces,” a world premiere with choreography by Ben Stevenson and music by Bohuslav Martinu.
  • Accompanied by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Swan Lake

  • Choreography by Ben Stevenson, music by Tchaikovsky
  • Bass Hall, accompanied by Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, May 25-27, 2018
  • Winspear Opera House, accompanied by the Dallas Opera Orchestra, June 1-3, 2018

Texas Ballet Theater

  • Season subscriptions, with tickets to three productions in Dallas and four in Fort Worth, are $72-$276. During the season, subscribers can purchase additional tickets at up to a 20 percent discount, excluding “The Nutty Nutcracker.”
  • To subscribe, call 877-828-9200 and select option 1, or purchase online at www.texasballettheater.org.
  • Single tickets will go on sale July 1.
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