Grand Rapids Ballet presents Firebird

October 18-20 & 25, 2019
Peter Martin Wege Theatre

This powerful collection of dance features FirebirdSan Francisco Ballet’s resident choreographer Yuri Possokhov’s transformation of Stravinsky’s captivating story of good and evil; Artistic Director James Sofranko’s elegantly wrought and intensely musical Mozart Symphony; Adam Hougland’s mesmerizing dark drama, Cold Virtues; and a world premiere by our choreographer-in-residence and Princess Grace Award winner, Penny Saunders.

Season subscriptions for the 2019-20 season are now available. Get yours today!


Single tickets for Firebird and the 2019-20 season go on sale July 24, 2019. Season subscriptions are now available by calling 616.454.4771 x10.

Who is Yuri Possokhov? 

Yuri Possokhov received his training under Pyotr Pestov at the Choreographic Ballet Academy in Moscow. Upon graduating in 1982, he joined the Bolshoi Ballet. During his ten years with the company, he worked primarily with Ballet Master Yuri Grigorovich and was quickly promoted to become one of the premier dancers in the company, partnering Natalia Bessmertnova, Ludmila Semenyaka, Nadezhda Pavlova, and Galina Stepanenko. During his time with The Bolshoi, Possokhov performed the leading roles in almost all of the classical and contemporary ballets in the repertoire at that time. He danced the lead role in the Bolshoi’s premiere of The Prodigal Son,the company’s first performance of a work by George Balanchine.

While performing, Possokhov studied choreography and the teaching of ballet at the State College of Theatrical Arts, completing the five-year course under Evgeny Valukin in 1990. In addition to participating in the Bolshoi’s frequent international tours, Possokhov was often invited to perform as a guest artist in Europe, Asia and Latin America. He also performed with Bolshoi ballerina Nina Ananiashvili’s own company, Ananiashvili and Friends, in numerous performances and galas worldwide.

In 1992, at the invitation of Ballet Master Frank Andersen, Possokhov joined the Royal Danish Ballet as a principal dancer. Performing many leading roles on the stage of The Royal Danish Theater, Possokhov’s repertory diversified with works by John Neumeier, Anna Laerkesen, George Balanchine, and John Cranko. Possokhov was also cast in the role of Prince Desiré in the Royal Danish Ballet premiere of Helgi Tomasson’s The Sleeping Beauty. The following year, he was invited to dance a guest performance at San Francisco Ballet’s opening night gala, after which Helgi Tomasson invited him to join the company as a principal dancer.

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Who is Igor Stravinsky?

Stravinsky was born in Russia in 1882. A composer, pianist, and conductor, Stravinsky is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century. Often referred to as “a musical revolutionary,” his compositions are known for their stylistic diversity, encompassing Romanticism, Neoclassicism, and Serialism.

Pressured by his parents to attend law school at the University of Saint Petersburg, Stravinsky rarely went to class. Instead he followed his passion for music, studying privately with Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes, attended one of Stravinsky’s early concerts, and asked him to compose the music for the company’s production of The Firebird. Stravinsky became an overnight success with the 1910 premiere of The Firebird, which was followed byPetrushka in 1911, and the controversial The Rite of Spring in 1913. After living in Switzerland and France, Stravinsky sailed to the United States in 1939 where he continued to compose highly acclaimed work until his death in 1971.

Stravinsky’s work includes artistic collaborations with Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and perhaps most famously with New York City Ballet’s artistic director and co-founder, George Balanchine. “Balanchine employed his choreography as a conduit through which the message of Stravinsky’s music could be clarified and strengthened,” wrote Charles M. Joseph in his book Stravinsky’s Ballets. Stravinsky’s music has been used in more than 30 ballets for New York City Ballet including Jerome Robbins’ The Cage, Balanchine’s AgonStravinsky Violin Concerto, Symphony in Three Movements, Prodigal SonRubies, and Apollo, among many other celebrated works.

In addition to composing music for dance, Stravinsky’s work includes numerous operas, choral, orchestral, chamber, and piano compositions. He is the winner of four Grammy Awards, including a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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