In this program of three new ballets, including two world premieres and one West Coast premiere, Oakland Ballet Company pays tribute to the legacy of Oakland Ballet Company and the artistry and creative energy of Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes.
Artistic Director Graham Lustig and guest choreographers Amy Seiwert and Robert Moses reimagine works commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev, who, as founder of the Ballets Russes in 1909, brought together some of the greatest composers, choreographers, dancers, and artists of the early 20th century for the creation of new ballets.
OBC’s Diaghilev Imagery, with each ballet set to the original musical composition, brings new life to the Diaghilev repertory, offering original choreography that gives modern interpretation to groundbreaking works of arts and endows them with fresh expression for contemporary audiences. OBC is excited to present this ballet at one of downtown Oakland’s historic venue’s, the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts.
Three Masterpieces Reconceived for the 21st Century
Ms. Seiwert, artistic director of the San Francisco contemporary ballet company Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, brings her vision to Les Biches. The ballet premiered in 1924 with choreography by Bronislava Nijinska, ballet mistress and chief choreographer of the Ballets Russes from 1921 to 1924, and a score by Francis Poulenc, whose music was influenced by jazz and the sound of Paris’s music halls. Previously presented by OBC in 1982 in the original Ballets Russes staging, Ms. Seiwert bases her version of Les Biches on a modern-day host giving a party.
Le Spectre de la Rose
In Le Spectre de la Rose, Mr. Moses, founder and artistic director of the San Francisco company Robert Moses’ Kin, reconceives one of the most famous ballets choreographed by Michel Fokine for the Ballets Russes. The original piece, which debuted in 1911 with the score by Carl Maria von Weber and starred Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky in the lead roles, told the story of a young girl who, fatigued by the excitement of her first ball, falls asleep and dreams of dancing with the rose she holds in her hand.
A work created by Mr. Lustig completes the program for Diaghilev Imagery. The piece, Pulcinella, harkens back to the 16th-century Italian style of clowning known as commedia dell’arte. Leonide Massine, who became known with the Ballets Russes for bringing stronger narration and characterization to dance, provided the original choreography to Igor Stravinsky’s score. Mr. Lustig’s Pulcinella premiered last year to critical acclaim at the Princeton Festival, a summer festival in New Jersey focused on presenting productions of the highest professional quality from all areas of the performing arts.
And I’m here to tell you the good news and the bad news about the new Pulcinella, featuring Igor Stravinsky’s landmark score that Graham Lustig has created for the festival. The good news is that it’s one of the most captivating new pieces I’ve seen in quite some time, adroitly marrying elegance and slapstick, sweetness and farce, classique vocabulary and modernist brio. And that’s the bad news — if you weren’t there among the standing-ovation audience, well, you’ve missed it.”
— Michael Redmond, the Princeton Packet
Diaghilev Imagery is a celebration of the artistic talents currently within the Bay Area’s vibrant dance community and pays tribute to the Diaghilev legacy, a cornerstone to the company’s history. The series of performances will include a special educational matinee for local school students and their teachers.
In support of Ms. Seiwert’s new work for this production, the Jerome Robbins Foundation has awarded the company a matching grant of $20,000. We are proud to announce that we have achieved our goal of raising $20,000 in matching funds!