Ballet Arkansas is taking the show on the road for the 2016-17 season, proving its status a truly statewide ambassador.
The season features multiple performances in Bentonville and one in Hot Springs, collaborative arts projects and a new home base, when Ballet Arkansas soon officially moves into its location on Main Street in downtown Little Rock’s Creative Corridor.
Another milestone, says Laura Hood Babcock, Ballet Arkansas’ artistic associate, is the re-opening this fall of Robinson Center, where performances of “The Nutcracker” will resume after a hiatus during the center’s renovations.
“Getting back into Robinson is huge for us,” Babcock said, explaining that the holiday mainstay will remain mostly the same as in years past, as the company gets to know the center’s new stage and new technology.
Public performances of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” are Dec. 9-11, with expanded matinees for school groups Dec. 7-9. Tickets go on sale in early September.
More than 200 local youth and adult dancers perform in “The Nutcracker” each year. Auditions for the 2016 show are Aug. 27 and open to children ages 6 and up, who are enrolled in ballet classes, Babcock said.
Register to audition here.
Hitting the Road
“The Nutcracker,” performed with Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, is one of Ballet Arkansas’ longest-running arts collaborations, another theme of the upcoming season.
“We collaborate in different ways to give the audience a different way to look at that art form,” Babcock said.
In October, Ballet Arkansas will head to Bentonville for multiple performances at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, as part of its new exhibit “The Art of American Dance,” opening Oct. 22 and showcasing dance-inspired paintings, prints, sculptures, and photographs from the 1830s to the 1960s.
While the dates for Ballet Arkansas’ performances at the museum are not confirmed, Babcock said they will “bring some of the art to life” through multiple short performances over several days, along with a main-stage production in the museum’s ballroom.
Ballet Arkansas will also perform excerpts from its current repertory, including “Under the Lights,” set to Johnny Cash’s music, and a preview of “The Nutcracker,” at Garvan Woodland Gardens’ Anthony Chapel in Hot Springs on Oct. 30 at 3 p.m. Admission includes an after party with Ballet Arkansas company artists and staff.
Babcock said traveling around the state is new for this “wave of the company’s development,” but helps them live up to their goal to be a statewide ambassador for classical ballet.
“Our mission is to be the professional ballet company of the state,” she said. “This season we get to do that more than we ever have.”
This season, Ballet Arkansas’s company features 13 dancers — seven women, five men and one female apprentice. Two new company members recently signed on: Kaley Kirkman of Fayetteville and Zeek Wright of Amarillo, Texas.
Visions and More for 2016-17
The third annual Visions Choreographic Competition allows emerging choreographers from around the country to compete for four spots, and the winner gets the chance to create a new work for Ballet Arkansas’ 2017 spring show.
Visions is Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Center for Performing Arts at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
This year, a second competition — the Visions Choreographic Competition NWA — will head to Bentonville in February 2017.
During the ACANSA Arts Festival opening festivities, Ballet Arkansas, accompanied by Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, will perform two acts of mixed repertory on Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. in Little Rock. Tickets for the festival are available here.
Ballet Arkansas’ season ends with a spring show on April 28-30, 2017 at Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Babcock said they are still working on the repertoire, and an official title has not been announced.
The spring show is both classical and contemporary, and includes a George Balanchine work, Valse Fantaisies; the winning Visions choreography; a new staging of the Petipa classical ballet, Paquita Grande Pas Classique; and lots more.
Tickets and more details about the shows and other events are available here.