BALLET + BROADWAY

April 21-23 & 28-30, 2023 at Peter Martin Wege Theatre

There’s no business like show business! Ballet + Broadwayfeatures three theatrically themed works, taking inspiration from “The Great White Way.” Remember Our Song, from Tony Award winner and Kennedy Center Award recipient Andy Blankenbuehler, choreographer of Hamilton, depicts the challenges of a love story a world apart, set during World War II featuring the big band music of the 1940s. Who Cares?, choreographed by George Balanchine, who also worked on Broadway, is an iconic work created originally for New York City Ballet, featuring famous tunes by George Gershwin such as “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “Embraceable You.” The final work, Jump Cut, is a World Premiere by Grand Rapids Ballet Resident Choreographer Penny Saunders, with inspiration from the Golden Age of old Hollywood.

BALLET + BROADWAY | DATES & TIMES

Friday, April 21, 2023

  • Evening performance at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

  • Evening performance at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

  • Matinee performance at 2 p.m.

Friday, April 28, 2023

  • Evening performance at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

  • Evening performance at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

  • Matinee performance at 2 p.m.

BALLET + BROADWAY | CREATORS

George Balanchine

George Balanchine

Choreographer

Biography

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Balanchine (1904-1983) is regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the world of ballet. He came to the United States in late 1933, at the age of 29, accepting the invitation of the young American arts patron Lincoln Kirstein (1907-1996), whose great passions included the dream of creating a ballet company in America. At Balanchine’s behest, the School of American Ballet was founded in 1934, the first product of the Balanchine-Kirstein collaboration. Several ballet companies directed by the two were created and dissolved in the years that followed, while Balanchine found other outlets for his choreography. Eventually, with a performance on October 11, 1948, New York City Ballet was born. Balanchine served as its ballet master and principal choreographer from 1948 until his death in 1983.

Balanchine’s more than 400 dance works include Serenade (1934), Concerto Barocco (1941), Le Palais de Cristal, later renamed Symphony in C (1947), Orpheus (1948), The Nutcracker (1954), Agon (1957)Symphony in Three Movements (1972), Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972), Vienna Waltzes (1977), Ballo della Regina (1978), and Mozartiana (1981). His final ballet, a new version of Stravinsky’s Variations for Orchestra, was created in 1982. He also choreographed for films, operas, revues, and musicals. Among his best-known dances for the stage is Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, originally created for Broadway’s On Your Toes (1936). The musical was later made into a movie.

A major artistic figure of the twentieth century, Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined, and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance. This had an inestimable influence on the growth of dance in America. Although at first his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, his ballets are now performed by all the major classical ballet companies throughout the world.

Andy Blankenbuehler

Andy Blankenbuehler

Choreographer

Biography

Mr. Blankenbuehler is a three-time Tony Award winner for his choreography in the Broadway productions of Bandstand, In The Heights, and Hamilton for which he also received London’s Olivier Award. Other Broadway credits include Bring It On, 9 To 5, The People In The Picture, The Apple Tree, Annie, and the revival of CATS. Upcoming theatre projects include the new musical Only Gold with British singer/songwriter Kate Nash, The Secret of Santa Vittoria, and the new musical Five Points.

On television, Mr. Blankenbuehler’s work has been seen on the Emmy Award-winning FX series Fosse/Verdon, as well as the Lionsgate/ABC remake of Dirty Dancing, America’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance, The Sopranos, MTV, Sesame Street featuring Janelle Monae, as well as many commercials. His choreography can be seen in the Universal Studio film of the musical Cats. Andy is very proud to have made his concert debut with a piece entitled Remember Our Song for the Tulsa Ballet Company. He staged the 2022 Met Gala featuring Leslie Odom Jr. and Lenny Kravitz. As a performer, Mr. Blankenbuehler has danced on Broadway in Fosse, Contact, Man of La Mancha, Saturday Night Fever, Steel Pier, Big, and Guys and Dolls.

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr.Blankenbuehler resides in New York City, with his wife Elly and two children, Luca and Sofia. Mr. Blankenbuehler is a recipient of a special Drama Desk Award and Dance Magazine Award for his achievement in the theatre. Mr. Blankenbuehler received the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors for his work on the musical Hamilton.

Penny Saunders

Penny Saunders

Choreographer

Biography

Penny Saunders, originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, graduated from the Harid Conservatory in 1995 and began her professional career with The American Repertory Ballet under the direction of Septime Webre. She went on to dance with Ballet Arizona, MOMIX Dance Theater, Cedar Lake Ensemble, and in 2004 she joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

In 2011, Saunders won the International Commissioning Project which launched her choreographic career, creating pieces for Hubbard Streets’ main and second company, Cincinnati Ballet, Whim W’Him, Oklahoma City Ballet, BalletX, Sacramento Ballet, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Diablo Ballet, Dayton Ballet, among others. Saunders is honored to be the Resident Choreographer at Grand Rapids Ballet where she has created many new works including her first full-length work, The Happy Prince and Other Wilde Tales.

Saunders has received support from The New York City Ballet Choreographic Commissions Initiative, participated in The National Choreographers Initiative, and was the recipient of the 2016 Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship. This year she is excited to be creating a range of new dance films with Whim W’Him, BalletX, Ballet Idaho, Seattle Dance Collective, Grand Rapids Ballet, California Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Visit her website to learn more about her.

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