240-250 S. Broad St. paballet.org
The best of Russian dance choreography is on its way to Philadelphia this fall. On Oct. 20, the Pennsylvania Ballet will present Russian Suite—a production featuring the North American premiere of Jeu de Cartes—by eminent choreographer and former artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, Alexei Ratmanksy. The program will also feature two works by George Balanchine.
Recently extolled in the New Yorker as the most sought-after man in the dance world, Ratmansky—currently an artist in residence at American Ballet Theater—will be arriving in Philadelphia next month to set his version of Jeu de Cartes on the Pennsylvania Ballet. “It was a whole process to get Alexei here,” says Roy Kaiser, the artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet. “I’m a big fan of his work. It’s a big ‘coup’ for the company.”
Ratmansky originally created Jeu de Cartes , which has its own legacy, for the Bolshoi Ballet in 2005, for which he received a 2006 Golden Mask award for Best Choreographer from the Theatre Union of Russia.
A dance artist who was trained in Russia but absorbed the influences of many Western choreographers as a dancer in the West, Ratmansky has produced works that have gained him international acclaim.
Jeu de Cartes just jumped out at me,” Kaiser continues. “It’s such wonderful work. And there’s no narrative to it. It’s an incredible score and what I think our company does extremely well, just non-stop dance movement.”
The original iteration for Jeu de Cartes began with Igor Stravinsky, who composed Jeu de Cartes (Card Game: A Ballet in Three Deals) for the first Stravinsky Festival mounted by Balanchine at the Metropolitan Opera in 1937. In the original version, dancers were costumed to represent the four suits in a deck of cards, and the joker was the central character. Ratmansky’s interpretation is more abstract.
“Alexei, very wisely, took a very different direction [in his version of Jeu de Cartes ],” says Kaiser, “with the way he treated the music. His interpretation of the music is very abstract.”
Carbon Dance Theatre
2920 Cambridge St. carbondancetheatre.com
After winning The A.W.A.R.D. Show 2011 Philadelphia for his choreographic work “This Is It/It Is This” last May, Carbon artistic director and former Pennsylvania Ballet Soloist Meredith Rainey launches the company into another season with Swan Songs at the Performance Garage on Brandywine Street. This opening dance concert will feature premiering works by Rainey, Kate Watson-Wallace, the co-director of Philadelphia-based Dance Company, Anonymous Bodies, and Matthew Neenan, the artistic director of BalletX. Carbon Dance Theater produces dance that is rooted in classical ballet and imbued with the “collaborative process of theater.”
9 N. Preston St. 215.387.8200. philadanco.org
Known for its zestful energy and commitment to preserving the traditions of African-American dance, Philadanco will perform the premiere of Watching Go By, the day by former Philadanco soloist Hope Boykin. La Valse by Gene Hill Sagan is also on the program, along with Christopher Huggins’ Blue and by George Faison’s Suite Otis.
1515 Brandywine St. 215.569.4060. ruddydance.org
Catch choreographer Lionel Popkin dancing in his 50-minute choreographic work, There is an Elephant in this Room at the Performance Garage. This pachydermic oeuvre premiered in Los Angeles last spring. Drawing from his own multi-religious background, Popkin uses religious symbolism—mainly the elephant god Ganesh, Remover of Obstacles—to investigate the concept of multiple identities. Gabrielle Revlock’s SHARE! is also appearing on the program.
Dear culture vultures: For months we scoured the city to bring you the best of what Philly has to offer this season, and we think we’ve done a damn good job of bringing something for everyone. Into art? You should know that curators and artists everywhere are doing their best to take art out of their galleries and into your community. Want theater? We found a scrappy, independent circus troupe whose stunts you should never try at home. There’s also a roundup of what’s on tap for our favorite stages. If comedy is your thing, we've got a list of the season's best events (like a tribute to the late Mitch Hedberg, he of the famous one-line zingers). Music? Check. Dance? The Russian ballet awaits you on. We even examine the state of storytelling, which, of course, is the world's oldest favorite pastime yet somehow a "novelty" in today's world. Enjoy all this and more!