Preview: Pennsylvania Ballet Brings A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to The Kennedy Center

A few years ago the dance planners at The Kennedy Center came up with a terrific idea: Invite nine regional ballet companies to perform one special work in three separate concerts, held towards the end of the season in the Opera House. As a result, we got to see troupes from as far away as the West Coast plus discover talented dancers from all across America.

Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet in 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream,' choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust.
Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust.

Founded in 1963 as New England’s first professional repertory ballet company, Boston Ballet, wraps up its full evening’s program at the Center tonight. While this is not a traditional review of the three works presented on opening night, it’s a rare treat to catch a regional ballet company in three very different ballets.

Among the works presented is D.M.J. 1953-1977 by Czech choreographer Petr Zuska. A somber piece (with red roses placed above the dancers), this dance memorial reminded me a little of the late Choo-San Goh’s works for the Washington Ballet. Septime Webre take note. The company also performed Bella Figura by Jiri Kylian, another acclaimed Czech-born choreographer who has a large following in our area. It’s worth the price of admission to see Whitney Jensen and Dusty Button sparkle in George Balanchine’s Jewels.

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One of the most valued dance companies since 1963, the Pennsylvania Ballet performs Balanchine’s fantasy ballet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the first wholly original evening-length ballet he choreographed in America. Set to Felix Mendelssohn’s memorable score (which includes the famed Wedding March in Act II), here is a ballet for all ages. The Choral Arts Society of Washington, and more than 20 child dancers who fill the forest as fireflies and fairies add to the magic.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Pennsylvania Ballet presents Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream through Sunday, June 8th.

Join company members on Friday evening for Ballet Look-in in the Terrace Gallery at 5 p.m. Participatory Creative Movement Class for non-dancers takes place June 7th .

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Carolyn Kelemen
Carolyn Kelemen is an award-winning arts critic and feature writer for the Baltimore Sun, Howard County Times, and Columbia Flier - 45 years and counting. The Columbia resident earned her Masters Degree in Dance at Mills College in California and has taught college and graduate courses at Goucher College, Loyola, the College of Notre Dame and Howard Community College. A professional dancer throughout the East Coast in the late 50s and early 60s, she was trained in classical ballet, modern dance, jazz and tap. Her TV/film career includes MPT’s “ weeknight Alive” and years of local productions in the Maryland/DC area. Carolyn is a longtime member of the Dance Critics of America, the American Theatre Critics Association. She has proudly produced the “A Labor of Love” AIDS benefits since 1988.

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