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Segerstrom Center's 2014-15 season to feature new dance stagings

February 25, 2014|By Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times

What if the story of Eva Peron were told by Argentine dancers and musicians performing traditional tangos from Argentina instead of a Broadway score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice?

Will Southern California audiences, who apparently never have seen it performed in a prominent professional venue, take to a Soviet-era Russian ballet about the French Revolution that’s said to have been Josef Stalin’s favorite?

And does $2.5 million in seed money from billionaire businessman and arts philanthropist David H. Koch guarantee that American Ballet Theatre’s new take on “The Sleeping Beauty,” choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky and designed by Richard Hudson (Broadway’s “The Lion King”) will play like a dream?

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The answers will be forthcoming in the 2014-15 season announced Monday by the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

Although touring Broadway shows often are its most popular draws, the Segerstrom Center’s International Dance Series has been an artistic signature.

“The Sleeping Beauty” (March 3-8, 2015) will have its rollout in Costa Mesa before moving on to become part of ABT’s season at Lincoln Center in New York. Koch’s $2.5 million is said to be a matching grant, suggesting that this is a $5 million (or more) production, with all-new visuals for the Tchaikovsky score. 

Segerstrom Hall was also the launching pad, in 2012, for Ratmansky’s new version of Stravinsky’s “Firebird” ballet, which a Times review described as “a pop-up book of bold wonderment,” albeit one yielding “mixed choreographic results.”

One of Ratmansky’s last works as director of the Bolshoi Ballet, which he left to become ABT's first resident choreographer starting in 2009, was a revisionist version of composer Boris Asafiev’s “The Flames of Paris.” The original 1932 ballet choreographed by Vasily Vainonen glorified the French Revolution as an idealistic toppling of craven aristocrats.  

Ratmansky, according to the Guardian newspaper, added a new character, an aristocratic woman who sides with the revolution, and a less uplifting ending: The revolution turns bloodthirsty, as they sometimes do, and sends the sympathetic aristocrat to the guillotine.

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