CONTEMPORARY VISIONS

October 6-8, 2023, at Peter Martin Wege Theatre

We kick off our season in October with our first in-theatre performance, Contemporary Visions. This production features four stand-alone works created by explorative and dynamic choreographers sharing stories through movement. Contemporary Visions features world-premiere choreography from Darrell Grand-Moultrie as he creates his first complete work for Grand Rapids Ballet. Darrell previously created Three Offerings for us during the virtual 20-21 season. He has an extensive resume, including creating works for Alvin Ailey, American Ballet Theater, and Beyonce. Veteran company dancer and up-and-coming choreographer Yuka Oba-Muschiana will create a full company work, with music by Franz Schubert. Berceuse, choreographed by resident choreographer Penny Saunders lends a sweeping and intricate duet in Berceuse, set to Benjamin Godard’s gorgeous piece of the same name. Berceuse, meaning ‘lullaby’ in French, explores the nuanced line between classical and contemporary movement and zooms in on a relationship, amplifying its twists and turns as it falls through time. Spirit of Women features three female solos excerpted from Donald McKayle’s repertoire that are placed together for their first collaborative presentationAs a massive figure in the modern dance world, McKayle is known for his socially conscious works expressing the human condition, specifically the African American experience. You will want to make sure you get to see this brand-new compilation of works as Grand Rapids Ballet presents Contemporary Visions.  

CONTEMPORARY VISIONS | DATES & TIMES

Friday, October 6, 2023

Evening performance at 7:30 p.m. 

Saturday, October 7, 2023

FREE Family Matinee performance 2:00 p.m. – Featuring an introduction to the world of professional ballet and an excerpt of the Contemporary Visions program, this family focused production will last about 45-60 minutes. Tickets available for reservation beginning September 4, 2023.  

Evening performance at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Matinee performance at 2 p.m. 

CONTEMPORARY VISIONS | CREATORS

Darrell Grand-Moultrie

Darrell Grand-Moultrie

Choreographer

Biography

Darrell Grand Moultrie has quickly emerged as one of America’s most sought after choreographers and master teachers.

Not one to be pigeonholed into any particular genre, Moultrie has carved out an impressive career that seamlessly weaves his choreographic talents through multiple genres.

Most recently Grammy Award winning artist Beyonce selected Darrell as one of her choreographers for her Mrs. Carter World Tour and Tony Award winning director Diane Paulus tapped Darrell to choreograph the original musical Witness Uganda at American Repertory Theater that she directed.

A proud recipient of the 2007 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award, Darrell’s work has been performed by Ailey 2, The Juilliard School, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Colorado Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, BalletMet Columbus, Milwaukee Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Rasta Thomas and his Bad Boys of Dance, Tulsa Ballet, Ballet X, Ballet Arkansas, and. Smuin Ballet. This year he will set World Premieres for Dance Theatre of Harlem, Richmond Ballet, The Boston Conservatory, and The Oregon Ballet Theater.

Darrell was approached by Central Park SummerStage’s dance curator to choreograph under his own moniker, inspiring him to form the pick-up company — Dance Grand Moultrie, which premiered in Central Park in July 2011. Dance Magazine’s Wendy Perron raved of the premiere,

The Melting Pot gave further opportunity to see his unique blend of movements: big moves juxtaposed with small, sensual gestures… Going to see dance at SummerStage is always a pleasant way to spend a summer night—and it’s free. When the program is this good, you can’t believe your luck.

Victoria Morgan, Artistic Director of Cincinnati Ballet comments,

What makes Darrell unique as a choreographer is that he knows how to get to the soul of a performer. His work is well-crafted and theatrical and even in abstract pieces, he makes you feel as though you are following a story. With an innate sense of timing he takes his audience on a journey that ends in pure satisfaction.

Darrell has taught and choreographed at many prestigious institutions across the United States, including The Juilliard School, The Ailey School, Dance Theatre of Harlem, CalArts, Point Park Conservatory of Performing Arts, University of Nevada, COCA St. Louis, and Perry Mansfield. He also served as the Director of Musical Theatre at the Harbor Conservatory of the Performing Arts.

As a performer, Darrell was part of the original cast of the hit musical Billy Elliot on Broadway. He has also been seen in West Side Story in Milan, Italy, at the world famous La Scala Opera House, and was a part of the original workshops of the Public Theatre’s Radiant Baby directed by George C. Wolfe, Sweet Charity, and The Color Purple. He was seen on Broadway in the smash hits Hairspray The Musical with Harvey Fierstein, and AIDA where he understudied the role of Mereb, performing opposite Toni Braxton.

Darrell is a proud New Yorker, born and raised in Harlem. A graduate of the esteemed Juilliard School, today he is one of the few choreographers working in the theater, ballet, modern, and commercial dance genres.

Yuka Oba-Muschiana

Yuka Oba-Muschiana

Choreographer

Biography

Yuka was born in Japan where she received her training from Hitomi Takeuchi Ballet School. In 2006, she attended English National Ballet School in the UK where she also danced many soloist roles. Upon graduating, Mario Radacovsky invited her to join the Slovak National Ballet where she danced a variety of roles such as Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux by George Balanchine, Spring lead lady in Four seasons by James Kudelka. Yuka was then invited to join Grand Rapids Ballet in 2011 where she has since danced many principal roles in ballets by George Balanchine (Serenade, Allegro Brilliant, Who Care’s?, Rubies and Four Temperaments), Marius Petipa (Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake), Yuri Possokhov (Firebird), Ben Stevensen (Cinderella), Val Caniparoli (Ibsen’s House, The Nutcracker), Christopher Stowell (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Trey McIntyre (Wild Sweet Love), Adam Hougland (Cold Virtues), Annabelle Lopez Ochoa (Written and Forgotten, Memorias del Dorado, Dangerous Liaisons), Alejandro Cerrudo (Extremely Close), James Sofranko (Romeo & Juliet Balcony Pas de Deux), Nicolas Blanc (Aquatic Hypoxia), Katarzyna Skarpetowska (Off the Canvas), Daniella Rowe (For Pixie), Olivier Wevers (The Sofa, Midsummer), Mario Radakovsky, Jennifer Archibald, David Parsons, Jose Limon, Kirk Peterson, Brian Enos, Sagi Gross, Andrea Schermoly, Norbert De La Cruz and Penny Saunders. Yuka has won many competitions in Japan including NBA All Japan Ballet Competition, Saitama All Japan Dance Competition, UB All Japan Ballet Union Competition, International Ballet Competition in Yokohama, and others. In 2013, Yuka had the honor of performing Olivier Wever’s The Sofa at the Joyce Theatre in New York and reprised her role in Seattle. Yuka performed Le Corsaire Pas de Deux in the gala at The National Theatre in Tokyo and the Pas de Deux from Le Carnaval de Venise in Fukushima. In 2014, Val Caniparoli choreographed Clara on Yuka for the world premiere of The Nutcracker. She also choreographed for Grand Rapids Ballet since 2015 such as Wave, Eriha, Death and Maiden, Tomorrow Never Comes and Chansons de Bilitis. 2021 Virtual season Yuka had the opportunity to choreograph, direct and film her piece “sol and luna”.

Penny Saunders

Penny Saunders

Resident 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, pennysaunderschoreo.com, to learn more about her.

Donald Mckayle

Donald Mckayle

Choreographer

Biography

Donald McKayle, recipient of honors and awards in every aspect of his illustrious career, has been named by the Dance Heritage Coalition as “one of America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: the First 100.” His choreographic masterworks, considered modern dance classics, Games, Rainbow Round My Shoulder, District Storyville, and Songs of the Disinherited are   performed around the world. He has choreographed over ninety works for dance companies in the United States, Canada, Israel, Europe and South America. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and the Lula Washington Dance Theatre serve as repositories for his works. He is the Artistic Mentor for the Limón Dance Company. Ten retrospectives have honored his choreography. In April 2005, Donald McKayle was honored at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and presented with a medal as a Master of African American Choreography.

In 2001, he choreographed the monumental ten-hour production of Tantalus, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in collaboration with the Denver Center Theatre Company. Five Tony Nominations have honored his choreography for Broadway musical theater: Sophisticated Ladies, Doctor Jazz, A Time for Singing, and for Raisin, which garnered the Tony Award as Best Musical, and for which he received Tony nominations for both direction and choreography. For Sophisticated Ladies he was also honored with an Outer Critics Circle Award and the NAACP Image Award. His most recent   choreography for Broadway was showcased in It Ain’t Nothing But the Blues, that earned a Tony nomination for Best Musical. He received an Emmy  nomination for the TV Special, Free To Be You and Me. His work for film included Disney’s Bedknobs and BroomsticksThe Great White Hope, and The Jazz Singer. His other media awards include a Los Angeles Drama Logue Award for Evolution of the Blues and a Golden Eagle Award for On the Sound.

In dance he has received the Capezio Award, the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award, the American Dance Guild Award, a Living Legend Award from the National Black Arts Festival, the Heritage Award from the California Dance Educators Association, two Choreographer’s Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Dance/USA Honors, an Irvine  Fellowship in Dance, the Martha Hill Lifetime Achievement Award, the Annual Award from the Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival, the Black College Dance Exchange Honors, the Dance Magazine Award, and the American Dance Legacy Institute’s  Distinguished and  Innovative Leadership Award. In May 2008, Cornish College of the Arts conferred an honorary Doctorate Degree on him. On May 22, 2009 the Juilliard School awarded Donald McKayle an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts. On May 20, 2011 California Institute of the Arts presented him with an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts.

For his work in education, he has earned the Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching, UCI’s Distinguished Faculty Lectureship Award for Research, and he is a recipient of the UCI Medal, the highest honor given by the University of California, Irvine. At the University of California, Irvine he has also been awarded the title of Claire Trevor Professor in Dance, an endowed chair, and is a Bren Fellow. Mr. McKayle has served on the faculties of numerous international forums and many prestigious national institutions including the Juilliard School, Bennington College, Bard College, Sarah Lawrence College, the American Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and was the Dean of the School of Dance at the California Institute of the Arts.

His autobiography, Transcending Boundaries: My Dancing Life, published by Routledge was honored with a Society of Dance History Scholar’s de la Torre Bueno Special Citation. A television documentary on his life and work, Heartbeats of a Dance Maker, was aired on PBS stations throughout the United States.

Franz Schubert

Franz Schubert

Composer

Biography

Franz Schubert (1797–1828) was an Austrian romantic composer and although he died at the age of 31, he was a prolific composer, having written some 600 lieder and nine symphonies.

Aged 10, the young Schubert won a place in the Vienna Imperial Court chapel choir and quickly gained a reputation as a budding composer with a set of facile string quartets.

After leaving chapel school and having completed the year’s mandatory training, Schubert followed his father into the teaching profession. This was at once a calamitous move and a blessing, for it was Schubert’s deep loathing of the school environment that finally lit the touchpaper of his creative genius. The same year he began teaching – 1814 – he produced his first indisputable masterpiece, ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’ (‘Gretchen at her spinning wheel’).

While Schubert was still struggling to hold down his full-time teaching post, he not only composed 145 lieder (songs), the Second and Third Symphonies, two sonatas and a series of miniatures for solo piano, two mass settings and other shorter choral works, four stage works, and a string quartet, in addition to various other projects. This period of intense creative activity remains one of the most inexplicable feats of productivity in musical history.

Musical soirees known as Schubertiads became all the rage, during which Schubert might sing some of his own songs while accompanying himself at the piano.

With little money and nothing much more than his ‘groupies’ to support him, Schubert began to produce a seemingly endless stream of masterpieces that for the most part were left to posterity to discover, including the two great song cycles, Die Schone Mullerin and Winterreise, the Eighth (‘Unfinished’) and Ninth (‘Great’) Symphonies, the Octet for Wind, the last three string quartets, the two piano trios, the String Quintet, the ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy and the last six sonatas for solo piano.

CONTEMPORARY VISIONS | SPONSORS

PRESENTING SPONSOR

Darrell Grand-Moultrie’s world premiere is sponsored by:

ADVOCATE SPONSOR

CONTRIBUTING SPONSORS

Yuka Oba-Muschiana’s world premiere is sponsored by:

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