The Kennedy Center’s 2019/2020 Ballet and Dance Season is an embarrassment of riches with seven of the world’s top ballet companies, and nine stellar modern and contemporary dance troupes.
The ballet season opens on October 8, 2019 with the Mariinsky Ballet. The august institution has been a regular on the Kennedy Center’s annual roster for a number of years now. This time the company brings a lavish new production of the full-length Paquita, a ballet that is rarely performed in its entirety. The production will run through October 13 in the Opera House.
Another new production of an old classic graces the opera house stage from November 27 through December 1, 2019, when Atlanta Ballet brings its fantastical new version of The Nutcracker, choreographed by Yuri Possokhov, a former principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet who now holds that company’s Choreographer in Residence post.
The National Ballet of Canada comes to town with two programs. From January 30 through February 2, 2020 this dazzling troupe performs its incomparable 1972 production of Sleeping Beauty choreographed by the late great Rudolph Nureyev and staged here by artistic director Karen Kain, who danced the lead role of Princess Aurora in the original production. On January 28 and 29 the company performs a high-quality program of mixed repertory including William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, Ji?í Kylián’s Petite Mort, Alexei Ratmansky’s Piano Concerto #1, and a pas de deux to be announced.
American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet return to the Kennedy Center for their annual and always anticipated performances. ABT will perform artistic director Kevin McKenzie’s production of Giselle from February 11 through 16, and New York City Ballet brings two programs of mixed repertory from March 31 through April 5.
It must be said: in 2019, City Ballet’s Kennedy Center performances were discouraging not because of the dancers but because of the programming. Aside from company founder George Balanchine’s brilliant Symphony in C and Kyle Abraham’s fascinating The Runaway, it was one of the saddest showings by this company I have ever witnessed in nearly 30 years of seeing New York City Ballet perform; and Warren Carlyle’s Something to Dance About, an extremely misguided homage to Jerome Robbins, was simply ghastly.
I am happy (and relieved) to report that 2020’s programming shows promise. The company will perform Balanchine’s rarely seen Haieff Divertimento – one of the master’s lesser known “black and white” ballets, and one his classics, Stravinsky Violin Concerto. It’s also bringing Christopher Wheeldon’s beautiful and quirky pas de deux Liturgy, Justin Peck’s Principia, Merce Cunnigham’s Summerspace, and the company’s extraordinary production of Firebird, which Balanchine and Robbins choreographed together in 1970, and should not be missed.
From May 13 – 17, 2020, the Scottish Ballet brings its production of The Crucible, based on the Arthur Miller play about the Salem witch trials. Washington Audiences last saw this company when it performed its masterful production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 2015 and its upcoming visit is sure to be as worthwhile. From Jun 2 – 7, the Bolshoi Ballet returns to Washington after a six-year absence to close the ballet season. This time around the company will perform Shakespeare’s tragic Romeo and Juliet choreographed by the company’s former artistic director Alexei Ratmansky, whose choreography brings depth and even a little humor to this production.
The Kennedy Center’s contemporary dance offerings are just as rich as the ballet programming. Top notch company’s like Merce Cunnigham Dance Company, the Mark Morris Dance Group, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, and many others round out this exciting and must-see season.