Ballet Arkansas is focusing on "themes of storytelling, collaboration, innovation, and community" in its productions for the 2022-23 season, while bringing in seven new dancers to replace six departures in its professional company.
New company dancers Sage Feldges, Celeste Lopez-Keranen, Andrew Przybylowicz and Keith Newman, plus apprentices David J. Cummings and Layla Terrell and trainee Andrew Parson join what will be a 15-member company in the fall. For the most part, they'll be replacing longtime company members Toby Lewellen, Amanda Sewell, Megan Tillman, Paul Tillman and Hannah Bradshaw, plus a dancer who is departing but has asked to remain anonymous.
Ballet Arkansas received more than 900 applications from 24 countries to fill its available slots, Associate Artistic Director Catherine Fothergill says in a news release. "We are thrilled to welcome these new dancers to Ballet Arkansas and for our audience to experience their talent and passion."
The ballet company kicks off its season Oct. 20-23 with the world premiere of "Dracula" for its annual Halloween-theme multimedia collaboration with Cranford Co. at the Center for Humanities and Arts Theater at the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock. Michael Fothergill, the company's executive and artistic director, is creating the choreography for an adaptation of the gothic novel by Bram Stoker.
The rest of the mainstage lineup:
◼️ Dec. 9-11, 2022: "Nutcracker Spectacular," Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's perennial Christmas-theme ballet surrounded by festivities, with a cast and crew of 400, updates choreography and costumes and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in the pit at Little Rock's Robinson Center Performance Hall. In the midst: the "Land of the Sweets Nutcracker Tea," noon-1 p.m. Dec. 11 at Robinson.
◼️ Feb. 16-19, 2023: Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty," UA-Pulaski Tech CHARTS Theater
◼️ April 21-23, 2023: "Modern Masters," neoclassical and contemporary dance works to epic scores performed live by the Arkansas Symphony with funding from the Stella Boyle Smith Trust, UA-PTC CHARTS Theater.
Also on the company calendar for the coming season:
◼️ June 14, 2022, "Back the Ballet Day," to support of the organization's K-12 education programs and community outreach
◼️ Sept. 30, 2022: "Argenta Biergarten," music, performances, craft beer and German-inspired food from across Arkansas, Argenta Plaza, North Little Rock.
◼️ April 26-30, 2023: The return of "Live at the Plaza," a series of free performances and educational programs, also at Argenta Plaza
◼️ May 4-6, 2023: "New Works," world contemporary dance premieres and collaborations involving visual art and media, paired with food and drink and a series of creative talkbacks, venue TBA.
Tickets and subscriptions go on sale June 24. Visit balletarkansas.org.
The ballet company will hold community cast auditions for adults and children 6 and older for "The Nutcracker" Aug. 19-20 and for children 9 and older for "Sleeping Beauty" Aug. 21 at the Shuffles & Ballet II studios in west Little Rock. Details will be available at balletarkansas.org/community-cast.