American Repertory Ballet Unveils Dance Season at New Hamilton Stage
For many, September is filled with the reluctance to give up the summer sun and the anticipation of the new school year. For dance lovers, however, this month brims with excitement as the state’s companies return to the studios to prepare for performances. New repertoire, new venues and even a new dance company or two are attention-grabbers for New Jersey audiences this year. American Repertory Ballet, founded in 1963 and one of the state's premier ballet companies, is kicking off its performance season with both new repertory and a new venue. Known to fans as ARB, the company is making its first appearance at the new Hamilton Stage for the Performing Arts in Rahway on September 28 and 29. Earlier this year, ARB was named an artistic affiliate of the performing arts venue, which opens its doors to the public on September 22. This should prove to be a galvanizing partnership for the two organizations as they strive to cultivate dance audiences. Hamilton Stage includes an intimate, 199-seat proscenium theater (where ARB will perform), a flexible 60-seat theater and a rehearsal hall. “The Rahway Arts District has a lot of wonderful energy and support behind it. It’s an exciting time for Rahway, and it’s the perfect venue for us to be able to showcase our work in such an intimate venue,” says Christine Chen, managing director of ARB. On a personal note, this combination seems most fitting, like a reunion of two old friends. I was trained at the Princeton Ballet School (the official school of ARB) and performed at the Union County Performing Arts Center —Hamilton's neighbor — when that venue produced musical theater. The debut of Hamilton Stage has created a lot of buzz beyond the borders of Union County, and the theater is considered a jewel for smaller dance performances.
For its Hamilton Stage season, ARB is offering a program of classical and contemporary ballet designed to showcase joy, beauty, artistry and discipline. Led by Artistic Director Douglas Martin, the company displays its range of talent with "4 Flavors," a sampling of four works:
"Ephemeral Possessions", choreographed by Martin and set to Samuel Barber’s haunting Adagio for Strings, was described as “wonderfully candid” by The Star-Ledger’s Robert Johnson.
"Romeo and Juliet," set to Prokofiev’s lush score and choreographed by Martin, is sure to be romantic and virtuoso.
"Straight Up With a Twist", choreographed by Mary Barton, ARB's ballet master, will have the bonus of live music performed by Oakland, California-based musician Kaila Flexer and her band. “We’re excited to introduce our new audience at Hamilton Stage to ARB and to this fun and inventive work with live musical accompaniment,” Martin says.
"Capriccios," choreographed by Trinette Singleton, is furiously athletic and set to Dmitri Shostokovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
Later in the season at Hamilton Stage, ARB will present the hour-long "A Nutcracker Suite" (December 1 and 2), as well as a staged preview of Martin's upcoming, full-length "Romeo and Juliet" (April 12 and 13, 2013). ARB, designated a Major Arts Institution by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, performs "4 Flavors" on Friday, September 28 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, September 29 at 2 and 7 p.m. at Hamilton Stage, 360 Hamilton St. If you can't make it to Rahway, prior to its first performance at Hamilton Stage ARB will present a preview at Rider University's Bart Luedeke Center Theater. "Rep at Rider" will feature "Ephemeral Possessions" and other works. ARB/Princeton Ballet School has a close partnership with Rider University, which allows Rider students to complete their studio course requirements at the Princeton Ballet School. This preview will be performed September 21 at 7:30 p.m. and September 22 at 2 p.m. at Rider University’s Lawrenceville campus.
And there's more in store for fall on the dance scene. In addition to ARB, Freespace Dance Company, New Jersey Ballet, Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company, lustigdancetheatre, 10 Hairy Legs, Alborada Dance Company and many others are coming to a venue near you. Visit the Discover Jersey Arts Calendar or the Dance New Jersey calendar for the latest.
Photo caption: These correspond to the "4 Flavors" performance at Hamilton Stage: Fall.CapDuet (Trinette Singleton's "Capriccios") Photo Credit: George Jones. Fall.EphemeralPossessions (Douglas Martin's "Ephemeral Possessions") Photo Credit: Leighton Chen.