Arts and Culture

Today is Valentine’s Day. And as many are celebrating their romantic relationships, the Louisville Ballet is unveiling its so-called 2018-2019 Season of Romance.

Romeo & Juliet and Human Abstract take on the darker side of love and passionate romance, while Cinderella and The Brown-Forman Nutcracker delight us with the joyful aspects of romance,” explained Producing and Artistic Director Robert Curran.

And, in what is becoming a signature of Curran’s vision, this season also promises more collaborations with diverse artists.

There is a familiar rhythm to the season, with the ever-popular Nutcracker anchoring the holiday season, in partnership with live music from the Louisville Orchestra. There are two full-length ballets: Cinderella, staged by former Artistic Directors Alun Jones and Helen Starr and, opening the season, Romeo and Juliet, choreographed by Adam Hougland, one of the Louisville Ballet’s commissioned choreographers.

An evening of one-acts will bring forth world premieres by both Curran and by company dancer, and frequent choreographer, Brandon Ragland. Choreographers’ Showcase is again in its winter slot, but missing this season is the perennial Studio Connections. And, in what may be a first for this company, only two seasons after its world premiere, Lucas Jervies’ Human Abstract returns next spring.

When asked how he felt about a remount so soon after the original creation of Human Abstract, Jervies said: “For me, each work is an essay on the next…I will have created six other pieces by February 2019, so my work will have matured and I will facilitate an opportunity for Louisville Ballet dancers to re-examine the work.”

This is good news for those who saw the premiere: a reason to return. Another reason to return is the possibility of different dancers being part of this ballet as casting has yet to be determined.

New work is the life-blood of the future of ballet, and company dancer Ragland’s work has already been seen on the mainstage as well as in several Choreographers’ Showcase programs. “For me, having this opportunity has a feeling of full circle,” Ragland said. “Choreographers’ Showcase is a way for dancers of Louisville Ballet to tap into another part of their creative expression and, in a safe environment, are able to take ideas and form choreography…I am so excited to take this next step in creating an original work for a mainstage program for Louisville Ballet’s 2018-19 season.”

Sam English/Louisville Ballet

Erica De La O and Benjamin Wetzel dance Balanchine’s “Rubies” during the 2017-2018 Louisville Ballet season.

Ragland’s premiere will be paired with a new work by Curran. This Mozart! evening creates a partnership with the musical ensemble Bourbon Baroque, another first for both companies. This program “will also feature two collaborations with local Louisville artists working with Brandon Ragland, and with me, on our world premiere pieces,” says Curran, clearly reveling in yet another non-traditional partner for his company.

Rounding out the Mozart! program will be the George Balanchine-choreographed Divertimento No. 15, a piece of music the choreographer considered Mozart’s finest. Curran is committed to including a Balanchine ballet in every season, and has done so since the inception of his tenure. Balanchine ballets are carefully curated by his Trust, and involve one of the Trust’s staff members working with companies that are approved to recreate the ballet.

Curran’s commitment to collaboration will also extend into next season’s Choreographers’ Showcase which, he shares, “will feature a collaboration between Louisville Ballet and Kentucky College of Art and Design, where KyCAD [Kentucky College of Art and Design] graduate students will work with choreographers to create and construct environments for the dance.” And Louisville Ballet audiences will be treated to a new performance space, at Spalding University, where this showcase will be created.

As the Louisville Ballet launches its next season, Curran invites Louisville audiences to enjoy the ballet’s “rich heritage and bright future” through a combination of timeless classics and thought-provoking new works.