Pennsylvania Ballet has a new name -Philadelphia Ballet
Philadelphia’s largest dance company is planning a return to the show next season with several new pieces, a dip to a new venue, and under the banner of a new name.
The Pennsylvania Ballet will now be known as the Philadelphia Ballet, its executives say, to promote a stronger sense of ownership of the company by the city in which it lives.
“For me it’s a natural fit. Most ballet companies are named after their hometowns because the community supports you, ”says General Manager Shelly Power. “I don’t want anyone to think that we are abandoning Pennsylvania in any way, but this is about our identity as one of the most important cities in America.”
According to the artistic director of the company, Angel Corella: “Philadelphia has international recognition. It’s for the Philadelphia Orchestra, for the museums, for the opera – for the city, the city of love. And it has such power that we wanted to feel even more attached to the city.
Philadelphia Ballet was the name Barbara Weisberger wanted to use, and used it briefly, when she founded the company in 1963, Power said. But another group had a similar name, hence the early change. The school was also renamed the School of Philadelphia Ballet. The Pennsylvania Ballet II, the company’s emerging talent wing, is now the Philadelphia Ballet II.
The 46-member dance company aims to open the new season in the fall with renewed confidence in its leadership. Power and Corella are negotiating extended contracts that are expected to be voted on by the ballet council in early summer. Corella buys a house in Rose Valley, and he and company dancer Russell Ducker are recently married.
The 2021-22 season opens at the Performance Garage, near 15th and Spring Garden streets. The reasoning for the intimate setting is that no one is quite sure how comfortable audiences will be with the live show returning in the fall.
“You can read all the surveys in the world, but when it comes to making that decision, a series of factors depend on what happens one day and can affect a person’s buying habits,” says Power. .
The October program in this modest venue features two world premieres: one by Corella on a score by Philip Glass, and another not yet announced.
But then the Philadelphia Ballet more confidently moves towards normalcy with a series of Nutcracker at the Conservatory of Music, with large orchestra, in December.
The annual three-week holiday favorite run is essential to the financial health of the business. It is by far the biggest revenue producer of the season, and last year the pandemic forced its cancellation. Power is hoping that no viewing capacity limits will be in effect for the show this coming season.
And, with regard to public confidence: “I hope that in Nutcracker we will have a level of comfort and a desire to come back to the theater, ”she said.
In February, the company performed for the first time at the Perelman Theater in a program of works by Alba Castillo, Juliano Nunes, and a third choreographer not yet announced. The Perelman, with around 550 seats, offers an intimate and prestigious location. The company has decided not to return for the moment to the Merriam Theater, which is in need of renovations.
“It just wasn’t a good experience for our clients or our dancers. The theater needs so much work, ”said Power.
The rest of the season will take place at the Academy of Music. Swan Lake, from March 3 to 13, will be choreographed by Corella. Three works by George Balanchine are scheduled from March 17 to 20: Stars and stripes, Symphony in C, and Entertainment # 15.
And the Dutch choreographer Hans van manen resumes the program from May 13 to 16 with its Big Fuge, Variations for two couples, and 5 Tangos.
“What defines a company and what makes it different are all the world premieres and all the new work,” said Corella, a former principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater who took over the company from Philadelphia in 2014. ” But at the same time, I wanted to bring ballets that people are comfortable with, familiar with, like Swan Lake. “
Music director Beatrice Jona Affron conducts the Philadelphia Ballet Orchestra in all performances after October.
The company performed online during the pandemic, although it took to the live performance with a fundraiser earlier this month at Red Rose Farm in Villanova.
“As I walked through the crowd seeing tears in people’s eyes and smiling faces, they reached out to me to thank me,” Power said. “It’s been so long since we heard live music and had live dancing, it said a lot about the desire to find art in their lives.”