The Power of Persistence
How Women Are Shaping the Modern Ballet Experience
Cincinnati Ballet’s Kaplan New Works Series has found solid footing, standing out as a highly anticipated annual offering for the past 11 years.
“This is an experience people don’t want to miss,” says Victoria Morgan, artistic director and CEO, of the unique series. “Every year for the last five years, we have focused on featuring one series with all female choreographers, and this year it is the New Works series, April 20-30, which concludes our 2016-2017 offerings and my 20th season with Cincinnati Ballet.”
The choice to produce a series featuring only women is an ironically uncommon move in the world of ballet. Although female dancers are plentiful, it’s lonely at the top. Morgan herself is one of only a handful of female artistic directors overseeing large, professional companies across the country, and ballet choreographers are overwhelmingly male as well.
“It’s an honor, a truly joyful honor, to be able to collaborate and highlight women in this way,” Morgan says. “It’s one way we can encourage bravery and leadership in our art form.”
Morgan says audiences who are expecting something “gentle” or “poetic” could be in for a surprise. This four-part performance is innovative, modern, disciplined and fierce. New Works choreographer Jennifer Archibald, for instance, will present her groundbreaking blend of ballet and hip-hop, in collaboration with famed female street artist Swoon in a world premiere exclusive.
Local choreographer Heather Britt, creator and director of the popular DANCEFIX classes, will also take part this year. Britt has been a part of the Kaplan New Works Series practically from its inception and Morgan expects audiences to be in high anticipation of this year’s creation. “It will be something altogether new, but still emblematic of Heather’s energy and confidence.”
Also on board is international choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, who has choreographed for many highly regarded ballet companies. She will present a unique, genre-bending performance of “Eros Redux,” based on a mythological tale of a people who are equal parts male and female, and therefore very powerful. They have descended from the moon and are a threat to Zeus, God of the sky. This performance will mark the U.S. premiere of the work.
Morgan herself will choreograph the world premiere of “Somewhere Close to Happiness,” inspired by the music of Danish composer Louise Alenius, originally created for a ballet based on the story of “The Elephant Man.” Morgan’s dancers will interpret a reference to that story, an outsider seeking to be accepted, only to be denied. Morgan says the piece conveys the feeling of “something so close to happiness that you can feel it and yet it is unattainable.”
The title of Morgan’s piece is an ideal fit, especially considering it came about through a crowd-sourcing project. Cincinnati Ballet invited the public to vote, and “Somewhere Close to Happiness” received more votes than “A Glistening Suspicion,” “Strangely OK” and “Wondering for Now.”
Morgan says excitement has been building around this event since the choreographers were selected. “Audiences will experience a rich evening, diverse in style, music, mood and content.”
Morgan believes that the attraction to New Works is an anticipation of adventure and exploring important conversations in today’s world through the expression of dance. “A lot of the work is about being brave, fighting for stamina and fluidity, making mistakes, defining new opinions or looking to discover joy, where we are reminded of human beauty and our potential. That’s what this series is about.”
Cincinnati Ballet is located at 1555 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45214. For more information, call 513.621.5282 or visit cballet.org.