The American Ballet Theater Studio Company offers a versatile, mixed-media program featuring George Balanchine’s beloved classic pas de deux “Stars and Stripes” and three Midwestern premieres at the McAninch Arts Center on Friday, March 25.
A free MAC Chat will follow the performance.
ABT Studio Company is the same company that has trained phenomenal dancers including Misty Copeland, David Hallberg and Isabella Boylston.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at Belushi Performance Hall, 425 Fawell Blvd. at Glen Ellyn. Tickets are $50 to $55. For tickets or more information, visit AtTheMAC.org or call the MAC box office at (630) 942-4000. The ticket office is open Tuesday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and one hour before the performance.
The 90 minute program should include the following:
• “Stars and Stripes” is a 1958 pas de deux with choreography by George Balanchine and music by John Philip Sousa.
The ballet was produced as a tribute to the United States, Balanchine’s adopted country. As noted in Bernard Taper’s “Balanchine: A Biography”, when asked why he chose to choreograph a ballet on the steps of Sousa, Balanchine replied, “Because I love his music.”
Balanchine (1904-1983) is one of the most influential choreographers of the 20th century and is known for his musicality and his ballets with minimalist costumes and sets, interpreted to classical and neoclassical music. In his native country, he was ballet master for the Ballets Russes between 1924 and 1929. He created nine ballets during these years as well as other smaller works. After arriving in the United States in 1933, he created 40 more and eventually founded the New York City Ballet. He quickly became world famous for his athletic and contemporary style. Jerome Robbins joined New York City Ballet the following year and, together with Balanchine, helped build its strong repertoire and firmly establish the company in New York.
• The Midwest premiere of “Children’s Songs Dance” 2021 with choreography by Jessica Lang and musical selections from “Children’s Songs” by Chick Corea.
“‘Children’s Songs Dance’ draws inspiration from life’s transition from childhood to adulthood, with the goal of never losing the spirit of play. My creative process with Chick (Corea) was magical He was extraordinarily generous, passionate about sharing his music, and genuinely excited to create a ballet for his play… It was a true collaboration,” Lang says.
Since 1999, Lang has created more than 100 original works for companies around the world, including American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Japan, Joffrey Ballet and his eponymous company Jessica Lang Dance. , among many others. Lang graduated from the Juilliard School under Benjamin Harkarvy. She is a former member of Twyla Tharp’s company, THARP! which she has toured and performed around the world.
• The Midwest premiere of “Lora” 2021 with choreography by Yannick Lebrun and “Lora” music by Mpho Sebina.
Says Lebrun: “For this solo, I was inspired to write a letter to my younger self about future dreams and hopes.”
Lebrun, originally from French Guyana, began his training in his native country at the Adaclam school. After graduating from high school in 2004, he moved to New York to study at the Ailey School on a scholarship. Lebrun was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to watch” in 2011, and in 2013 France-Amérique magazine named him one of the 50 most talented Frenchmen in the United States. In November 2016, Lebrun was a guest artist with the Royal Ballet in Wayne McGregor’s Chroma. In 2019 he choreographed “Saa Magni”, his first work for Ailey II, and in 2021 he created “Lora” for ABT Studio Company. Lebrun was a member of Ailey II and joined the company in 2008.
• The Midwest premiere of “Beyond Belief” with choreography by Sung Woo Han and music for “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18” by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
“Nothing seems too strange to be true in today’s world. Even if marble statues in a sculpture garden were to come to life before our eyes,” observes Sung Woo.
Sung Woo, born in Seoul, South Korea, began his ballet training in his hometown and entered Korea National University of the Arts at the age of 17. He has received numerous distinctions, including the Grand First Prize at the Beijing Invitational International Ballet Competition. In 2011 he was awarded second prize at the Prix de Lausanne and received a full scholarship to the Royal Ballet Company. Sung Woo joined ABT as a member of the corps de ballet in 2013. His repertoire includes a lead role in “Monotones II” and a starring role in “Raymonda Entertainment.” “Beyond Belief” is his third work created for “ABT Incubator”, an internal choreographic workshop. His other works include “Beneath the Conscious” (2018) and “perspective of glory” (2019).
Other works from the company’s repertoire may also be presented. Program selections are subject to change.
ABT Studio Company seeks to develop the next generation of ballet dancers, choreographers and audiences. Its central mission is to prepare its exceptionally promising dancers (aged 17-21) for careers with ABT’s main company or other major ballet companies around the world. It serves as a crucial vehicle for the transition from student to professional interpreter. Nearly 80% of current ABT dancers are ABT Studio Company alumni, including 12 principal dancers and seven soloists. Each season, ABT Studio Company commissions emerging and/or established choreographers to create new works about Studio Company dancers, serving as a platform for new choreography.