Grand Rapids Ballet (GRB), Michigan’s only professional ballet company, continues to celebrate 50 years of lifting the human spirit through the arts of dance by announcing its 2022-23 Season, What Lifts Your Spirit. The season features two classical ballet performances at DeVos Performance Hall and three contemporary works at its own Peter Martin Wege Theater, among others. Grand Rapids Ballet looks ahead to the next 50 years of dance in our community asking audience members to share, what lifts your spirit?
The What Lifts Your Spirit offers awe-inspiring movement sure to please all audiences, featuring contemporary creations and timeless classics. The season begins unofficially in August as Grand Rapids Ballet once again offers the West Michigan community several opportunities to enjoy live performing arts at outdoor venues during its “Summer Series.” The first program will take place downtown at Studio Park, on August 19 and 20, and the second features a return to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on August 30. The company will perform a variety of works, including Katarzyna Skarpetowska’s “Off the Canvas,” George Balanchine’s “Serenade,” and excerpts from James Sofranko’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
“With a successful return to live performances last season, we are now poised to surge forward into the 22-23 season with a refocused passion to bring world-class ballet to our city,” said James Sofranko, artistic director at Grand Rapids Ballet. “The season will bring some of the best artists working around the world to our company, as well as respected ballets of the past, and I am so excited for our dancers to dive into the work. With five programs, including three world premieres, we continue to focus on new ways that ballet exists in the world today, while also maintaining the traditions of classical ballet for every generation.”
GRB’s official season kicks off at its home theater, the Peter Martin Wege Theatre in October with “Elemental Movement,” which explores movement in different spaces in which our dancers draw energy from the music and one another. The What Lifts Your Spirit season continues with the holiday favorite, “The Nutcracker” in December in which audiences will enjoy captivating choreography by Val Caniparoli before a magical and immersive set, imagined by Grand Rapidian Chris Van Allsburg, with live accompaniment from the Grand Rapids Symphony.
GRB will return to DeVos Performance Hall in February to present World Premiere choreography by Artistic Director James Sofranko with “Romeo and Juliet.” Set in Renaissance Verona, audiences will be captivated by the romantic tragedy featuring famous feuding families, the Montagues and Capulets, as dancers perform, once again, with the Grand Rapids Symphony to Prokofiev’s score.
“I am especially excited to begin work on my new production of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’” Sofranko shared. “Retelling Shakespeare’s cautionary tale about the tragedy of feuding families will be my largest choreographic project to date, and it is a dream come true. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has everything I could ask for in a ballet: love, beauty, character, emotion, drama, sword-fighting, and tragedy, all set to one of ballet’s most famous scores.”
The season next includes “Jumpstart 2023,” which features company dancers pushing beyond the edge of choreographic exploration for the annual Jumpstart performance. For this performance, at Peter Martin Wege Theatre, company dancers step into the role of choreographer, building experimental programs for other dancers. “Jumpstart 2023” also will feature an excerpt of “Three Offerings” by Darrell Grand Moultrie.
The season will close with “Ballet + Broadway,” which features three theatrically themed works, taking inspiration from “The Great White Way.” Works will include “Remember Our Song,” from Tony Award winner and Kennedy Center Award recipient Andy Blankenbuehler, choreographer of “Hamilton,” “Who Cares?,” choreographed by George Balanchine, and “Jump Cut,” a World Premiere by GRB Resident Choreographer Penny Saunders.