Carousel (A Dance)©
Music: Richard Rodgers (“Carousel Waltz” and “If I Loved You” from Carousel, 1945), arranged and orchestrated by William David Brohn
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Staging: Damian Smith and Jackie Barrett
Costume Design: Holly Hynes
Lighting Design: Mark Stanley
Duration: 15 minutes
Premiere: November 26, 2002; New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: March 12, 2009 (Broadway Festival)
The 2009 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Carousel (A Dance) was generously underwritten in part by PNB’s Board of Trustees, Advisory Board, Members of the Barre, and Stowell Society.
The musical Carousel, with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, premiered in 1945. The show won acclaim for its many hit musical numbers and for its innovative plot about the ill-fated marriage of young millworker Julie Jordan and carnival barker Billy Bigelow.
Christopher Wheeldon’s salute to Rodgers includes the composer’s melodic and evocative “Carousel Waltz” and “If I Loved You” in a reverie that distills Carousel’s carnival atmosphere as well as its theme of tragic romance. A large corps de ballet creates a stylized carousel on stage, their movements often separating the lovers. With a simple hint at the story, Wheeldon catches the sweep and emotion of the music and the poignant, doomed nature of the lead couple’s relationship with a tender and romantic pas de deux.
Notes by Doug Fullington.
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue
Music: Richard Rodgers (from On Your Toes, 1936), orchestrated by Hershy Kay
Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging: Susan Pilarre
Scenic and Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli
Costume Design: Holly Hynes
Duration: 23 minutes
Premiere: May 2, 1968; New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: September 20, 2008
The 2008 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of George Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue was generously underwritten by Dan & Pam Baty.
Balanchine originally choreographed Slaughter on Tenth Avenue in 1936 for the musical On Your Toes, in which Ray Bolger played The Hoofer and Tamara Geva portrayed The Stripper. The show was a parody of Broadway, Russian ballet, and the mob, in which a jealous Russian premier danseur hires a mobster to kill a rival during the premiere of a new ballet, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. The ballet itself tells the story of a tacky strip joint and the customer who falls in love with the Big Boss’ girl. The premier danseur arranges for the hoofer to be killed, but the girl saves him. At Balanchine’s insistence, On Your Toes was the first Broadway musical to credit staged dances as “choreography,” and is considered the first musical in which the dances were integrated into the plot, performed by dancers who were also dramatic characters.
On Your Toes was the first of four Rodgers and Hart musicals choreographed by Balanchine. The others were Babes in Arms, I Married an Angel, and The Boys from Syracuse. In 1967, Balanchine mounted Slaughter on Tenth Avenue as a separate work for New York City Ballet. Casting Suzanne Farrell and Arthur Mitchell in the lead roles, Balanchine followed the original ideas but made new choreography.
Notes by Doug Fullington.
West Side Story Suite
Music: Leonard Bernstein (“Prologue,” “Something’s Coming,” “Dance at the Gym,” “Cool,” “America,” “Rumble,” and “Somewhere Ballet,” from West Side Story, 1957)
Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Choreography: Jerome Robbins with Peter Genarro
Staging: Jean-Pierre Frohlich and Elyse Borne
Vocal Coaching: Joan Barber
Scenic Design: Oliver Smith
Costume Design: Irene Sharaff
Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton
Duration: 36 minutes
Premiere: May 18, 1995: New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: March 12, 2009
The 2017 Pacific Northwest Ballet production of Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite is underwritten by Jolene McCaw Family Foundation.
Principal support for the 2009 PNB premiere of West Side Story Suite was provided by Marcella McCaffray with additional support from Lyndall Boal, Aya Stark Hamilton and Carl & Renee Behnke.
With a book written by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins, the musical West Side Story is one of the most popular theatrical productions based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Set on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the mid-1950s, West Side Story explores the rivalry between two teenage gangs of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Tony, who belongs to the native Manhattan gang, the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of the rival Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theater.
The original 1957 Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, marked Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway debut. The production earned a Tony Award in 1957 for Robbins’ choreography. The musical led to the innovative, award-winning 1961 musical film, winning 10 Academy Awards out of 11 nominations, including Best Director, for Robbins and Robert Wise, and Best Picture. Jerome Robbins extracted a sequence of dances from West Side Story to make this suite for New York City Ballet in 1995.
Notes compiled by Doug Fullington.