Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen announced today its first trip to Korea August 23 – September 1, 2008, which is the company’s second tour to Asia in its history. The company will perform three repertory works: George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia and Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room at Universal Arts Center in Seoul and Goyang Cultural Arts Complex in Gyeonggi-do.
“I am proud to present these talented dancers across the globe,” said Nissinen. “It’s thrilling to showcase their artistry and athleticism to new audiences. Our tour to Spain last year was a rousing success and the consistent critical acclaim we received was further validation of the gem that Boston Ballet is for this city and the country.”
The tour was proposed by Playbill® Boston publisher Tim Montgomery who is also a principal in New Venture Entertainment, the South Korean-based theatrical production company that will present the tour. Montgomery said that he was proud to play a part in introducing Boston Ballet to South Korea and saw future touring opportunities throughout Asia. New Venture Entertainment has offices in Seoul, Tokyo and Boston. The 2008 Boston Ballet Korea Tour is presented by New Venture Entertainment and is sponsored by Michigan Venture Capital. Michigan Venture Capital’s Managing Director, Don Kwon, has ties to the Boston area, having received an MBA at Boston College.
“Through touring, Boston Ballet benefits from the exposure, the growing recognition of the company and our work, and the chance to dance before different audiences. Boston Ballet is distinguished worldwide as an elite dance company, and international touring is crucial to increasing that perception worldwide,” said Nissinen.
Nissinen continued, “Touring also helps us attract some of the best dancers in the world: our current company, half of whom are American, now includes performers from 18 different countries. And touring allows us to benefit from the fact that one invitation can lead to another.”
August 27 and August 28 –Aram Opera House, Gyeonggi-do, KoreaAugust 30 (three performances) and August 31 –Universal Arts Center, Seoul, Korea
Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco is widely regarded as one of the master choreographer’s finest works. This abstract, one-act ballet performed to Bach’s Concerto in D minor for Two Violins showcases Balanchine’s choreographic brilliance and superb musicality. Music was essential in Balanchine’s creative process, and in Concerto Barocco the skillful interplay between the music and the dancers is apparent.
Concerto Barocco premiered in June 1941 at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janiero, Brazil by American Ballet Caravan and was originally conceived as an exercise for the School of American Ballet. Boston Ballet last performed Concerto Barocco as part of the Three Masterpieces program in their 2007-2008 Season.
Tharp’s 1986 piece In the Upper Room is an explosive and energetic work set to a pulsing composition by Philip Glass. Glass’s unique score has never been recorded in its entirety and can only be heard in this format during In the Upper Room.
The ballet features an ensemble of three couples in sneakers as “stompers” and two women in pointe shoes as a “bomb squad,” who all work according to the nicknames – “stomping” and “bombing” with force and energy. Tharp’s driving, fierce movements in the piece were inspired by activities such as yoga and jogging and the dancers play with and feed on the music’s driving pulse. A 40-minute energetic romp, the ballet is an exercise in strength and stamina. In the Upper Room was last performed by Boston Ballet as part of the Three Masterpieces program in their 2007-2008 Season.
Wheeldon’s Polyphonia is an homage to George Balanchine, an abstract, neoclassical leotard ballet danced by four couples and performed to piano music by György Ligeti. In The New York Times, Anna Kisselgoff concluded her review of Polyphonia with the words, “A major ballet.” She acknowledged its debt to Balanchine but added, “The piece is rich and spare at the same time, familiar in tone but inventively unpredictable.” Wheeldon’s distinctive artistry is unmistakable: in the novel partnering, in the sculptural quality and unforgettable shapes of some of the movement, in the way he uses the upper body – in basically every aspect of the piece. Boston Ballet last performed Polyphonia in March 2007.
Wheeldon was formerly principal guest choreographer for Boston Ballet, where his work included Corybantic Ecstasies, The Four Seasons and Firebird.
In 1980, the company was the first American dance company to perform in the People’s Republic of China, the first stop on a five-country tour that included China, Hong Kong, Israel, France and Italy under the co-artistic directorship of E. Virginia Williams and Violette Verdy.
Last July, Boston Ballet embarked on its first international tour in 15 years. The six-week tour took the company to seven festivals in various regions of Spain. Two programs were presented throughout the tour, including Sorella Englund’s staging of August Bournonville’s La Sylphide, and an all-Balanchine bill of Serenade, Who Cares? and The Four Temperaments. Sold-out performances and resounding critical acclaim made this the largest and one of the most outstanding tours in Boston Ballet’s history.
During the tour, the Company was honored with the attendance of many special guests including Queen Sofia of Spain.
Last weekend, the company performed as part of the acclaimed Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina. June 13 and 15, Boston Ballet will perform as part of the Ballet Across America series at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Founded in 1963, Boston Ballet is one of the leading dance companies in North America. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen and Executive Director Valerie Wilder, the Company maintains an internationally acclaimed repertoire of classical, neo-classical and contemporary works, ranging from full-length story ballets to new works by some of today's finest choreographers.
Boston Ballet's second company, Boston Ballet II, is made up of pre-professional dancers who gain experience by performing with Boston Ballet and as an independent group, presenting lecture-demonstrations and unique programs to audiences throughout the Northeast. The Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education is the largest ballet school in North America. In service of its mission to bring the highest quality arts education to all, it reaches and instructs more than 5,000 students of all ages each year through Boston Ballet School, Summer Dance Workshop, Summer Dance Program, Citydance, Taking Steps, and Adaptive Dance. The wide array of dance education programs are held at four major ballet studio locations, in community centers, and throughout the Boston Public Schools.