Ballet stays on creative course through leadership changes

Change may be inevitable, but it’s not always good – especially if one faces more of it, and sooner, than expected.

The Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance
The Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance

Those were exactly the choppy waters Cincinnati Ballet found itself navigating after the 2022 retirement of longtime artistic director Victoria Morgan. Her successor, Jodie Gates, lasted only about a year before parting ways with the board and the company. Soon after, the company’s president and CEO, left to lead the prestigious Los Angeles Master Chorale.

To keep its creative spark firing, while simultaneously providing a needed sense of continuity, the company in September named its former celebrity principal dancer, Cervilio Miguel Amador, as interim artistic director. Amador had already made the transition to rehearsal director after retiring from performing. As the current season winds down, Amador seems to have kept the ship on course. 

Cervilio Miguel Amador, interim artistic director 

Whether he can eventually drop the “interim” from his title is anyone’s guess, but the company’s 2024-25 season, announced today, is a big opportunity to put his stamp on Cincinnati Ballet and showcase his artistic vision. In a sense, the lineup looks pretty similar to previous years. That’s good, because the template is for an engaging and stimulating mix of old and new, both in repertoire and artists.

The season kicks off with the Kaplan New Works Series, from Sept. 6-15 in the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater. The works include world premiere commissions from Darrell Grand Moultrie, Christian Denice, Caroline Dahm and Gustavo Ramírez. Moultrie has staged works for groups as diverse as American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Beyoncé’s Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. Denice, a dancer and choreographer, has worked previously with Cincinnati’s dancers in the annual Moving Arts festival that takes place each summer. Ramírez is one of Spain’s most internationally recognized choreographers, and Dahm’s credits include dancing and choreographing for Kansas City Ballet.

Season images by Joe Lyman Photography

From the new, the season moves to classics – and to Music Hall. For Halloween weekend, Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, it’s a ghost story of sorts. “Giselle” is the story of a peasant girl with a weak heart and a passion for dancing who dies of a broken heart after her lover’s betrayal. She’s then taken in by eerie ghosts, the Wilis, and she’s transported to a world whose language is dance. The Cincinnati Symphony performs the score by Adolphe Adam (of “O Holy Night” fame).

That takes us to the winter holidays and the annual trip to the Land of Sweets, courtesy of “The Nutcracker.” It’s the 50th – I know! 50 already?! – anniversary production of this beloved family tradition. The CSO is back to bring the sparkling Tchaikovsky score to life, too. Performances run Dec. 19-29.

First up for 2025 is another audience favorite, “The Wizard of Oz,” choreographed by Septime Webre. It’s the story we all know of Dorothy’s journey to the Emerald City of Oz, its wizard and the witch who wants her ruby slippers back. The production, Feb. 20 through March 2 in Music Hall, is a technical showcase with impressive special effects, and lavish sets and costumes. The CSO performs the Matthew Pierce score.

One of Cincinnati Ballet’s great achievements is its range of training programs, which include opportunities for dancers from young children to pre-professionals and apprentices. The top group in this pyramid is CB2, the Cincinnati Ballet Second Company. After rigorous training with main company artists, CB2 (and younger performers, too) get a turn in the spotlight in the Family Series. Next year, that’s April 24-27, 2025, at the Aronoff Center’s Procter & Gamble Hall for a production of “Snow White.” These are shorter performances that make great introductions to dance, especially for young children.

The company stays at the Aronoff for its season finale, “Director’s Vision: No Boundaries,” May 1-4, 2025. Scheduled is a triple bill of works by Alexander Ekman and David Morse, and a regional premiere from choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Ekman’s “Cacti” is a playful and witty parody of contemporary dance. Lopez Ochoa’s “Delmira” was inspired by the life of Uruguayan poet Delmira Agustini. Augustini was fatally shot at age 27 by her former husband a month after their divorce was finalized. Morse’s “Our Story” is presented in honor of the 80th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The work looks at the unique singularity of the Holocaust and asks questions about what is required of us to appreciate our shared humanity.

2024-25 season at a glance:

• Sept. 6-15: Kaplan New Works, (Jarson-Kaplan Theater, Aronoff Center) 

• Oct. 31-Nov. 2: “Giselle” (Music Hall)

• Dec. 19-29: “The Nutcracker” (Music Hall)

• Feb. 20-March 2: “The Wizard of Oz” (Music Hall)

• April 24-27: Family Series: “Snow White” (Procter & Gamble Hall, Aronoff Center)

• May 1-4: “Directors Vision: No Boundaries” (Procter & Gamble Hall, Aronoff Center)

Tickets

Subscriptions for 2024-25 are on sale now.

cballet.org or 513-621-5282 


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