LOS ANGELES BALLET
Learn about the comprehensive and varied seasons of Los Angeles Ballet from its inception in 2006. Repertoire includes superb stagings of Balanchine repertory, stylistically meticulous classical ballets, and commissioned contemporary works by renowned local and international choreographers.
George Balanchine transformed the world of ballet.
He is widely regarded as the most influential choreographer of the 20th century, and he co-founded two of ballet’s most important institutions: New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet. Balanchine was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1904, studied at the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg, and danced with the Maryinsky Theatre Ballet Company, where he began choreographing short works. In the summer of 1924, Balanchine left the newly formed Soviet Union for Europe, where he was invited by impresario Serge Diaghilev to join the Ballets Russes. For that company, Balanchine choreographed his first important ballets: Apollo (1928) and Prodigal Son (1929).
After Ballets Russes was dissolved following Diaghilev’s death in 1929, Balanchine spent his next few years on a variety of projects in Europe and then formed his own company, Les Ballets 1933, in Paris. There, he met American arts connoisseur Lincoln Kirstein, who persuaded him to come to the United States. In 1934, the pair founded the School of American Ballet, which remains in operation to this day, training students for companies around the world.
Balanchine’s first ballet in the U.S., Serenade, set to the music of Tchaikovsky, was created for School of American Ballet students and premiered on June 9, 1934, on the grounds of an estate in White Plains, New York.
Balanchine brought some of his dancers to Hollywood during 1938, and lived in a white two-story house on North Fairfax Avenue not far from Hollywood Boulevard. Balanchine created dances for five movies, all of which featured Vera Zorina, whom he met on the set of The Goldwyn Follies and who subsequently became his wife.
He reconvened his company as the American Ballet Caravan and toured with it throughout North and South America, but it folded after several years. From 1944 to 1946, during and after World War II, Balanchine served as resident choreographer for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein founded several short-lived ballet companies before forming Ballet Society in 1946, which was renamed New York City Ballet in 1948. Balanchine served as the Company’s ballet master from that year until his death in 1983, building it into one of the most important performing arts institutions in the world, and a cornerstone of the cultural life of New York City. He choreographed 425 works over the course of 60-plus years, and his musical choices ranged from Tchaikovsky (one of his favorite composers) to Stravinsky (his compatriot and friend) to Gershwin (who embodied the choreographer’s love of America). Balanchine’s works are considered masterpieces and are performed by ballet companies all over the world.
Apollo, Prodigal Son & Serenade Choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Photo circa 1950 courtesy of New York City Ballet
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa is an award-winning and sought-after choreographer that has created works for 68 dance companies around the world such as the Dutch National Ballet, English National Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, West Australian Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, San Francisco Ballet, New York City Ballet, Ballet Hispanico and Dance Theater of Harlem, among others. A versatile choreographer, Lopez Ochoa creates regularly within the dance field but also for theatre, opera, musical theatre. Her wide-ranging body of work includes short conceptual pieces, full-length narrative ballets, and dance films. The Colombian-Belgian Lopez Ochoa completed her dance education at the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp. After a 12-year career in several European dance companies Lopez Ochoa decided in 2003 to focus solely on choreography. That same year she was hailed as the “rising star of the Dutch dance scene” (NRC newspaper) and only 7 years later the Temecula Performing Arts Examiner wrote;” Ochoa is truly a masterful choreographer with an edge for what dance can and should be in this constantly changing industry ”. In 2012, she was awarded UK Dance Award Best Classical choreography for “A Streetcar Named Desire” created for the Scottish Ballet. That same year the work was nominated for an Olivier Award. In 2016, Broken Wings, choreographed for the English National Ballet was nominated for numerous awards and reworked into a full-length ballet FRIDA for the Dutch National Ballet in 2020. In 2019, Annabelle became the recipient of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award as well as the program director of the Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Classical Summer Course. A position she will hold for 3 years. During the pandemic of 2020/21, Annabelle pioneered remote choreography and dance film creations premiered online. She has created 22 short dance films for which she has been featured in several articles in Pointe Magazine, Bachtrack, Tv5 Monde, Dance International and Dance Magazine.
Photo: ©Titus Tiel Groenestege
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Christopher Wheeldon, OBE (Director & Choreographer) trained at The Royal Ballet School and joined The Royal Ballet in 1991. In 1993, he joined New York City Ballet and was promoted to Soloist in 1998. He was named NYCB’s first Resident Choreographer in July 2001. Since then, Mr. Wheeldon has created and staged productions for many of the world’s major ballet companies.
In 2007, Mr. Wheeldon founded Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company and was appointed an Associate Artist for Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. Mr. Wheeldon now serves as Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet. As Artistic Associate, Mr. Wheeldon has created many works for the company, including the full-length Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale, both of which were co-productions with The National Ballet of Canada.
For the Metropolitan Opera, he choreographed Dance of the Hours for Ponchielli’s La Gioconda (2006) and Richard Eyre’s production of Carmen (2012) as well as ballet sequences for the feature film Center Stage (2000) and Sweet Smell of Success on Broadway (2002).
Mr. Wheeldon created a special excerpt for the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. In April 2016, he was the Artistic Director for the Fashion Forward exhibition in Paris at La Musee Arts et Decoratif.
In 2014, Mr. Wheeldon directed and choreographed the musical version of An American in Paris, which had productions in Paris, on Broadway, and in London. 2016 was The Joffrey Ballet’s world premiere of The Nutcracker reimagined by Mr. Wheeldon and he directed and choreographed the gala presentation of Lerner & Loewe’s Brigadoon starring Kelli O’Hara and Patrick Wilson at New York City Center in 2017. In 2018, Mr. Wheeldon staged two pieces in Tokyo: An American in Paris and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland while in 2019, Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale was performed by The Bolshoi Ballet. 2019 was also the premiere for Corybantic Games at The Royal Ballet and a re-staged version of Cinderella for the English National Ballet at Royal Albert Hall.
Among Mr. Wheeldon’s awards are a Tony Award for Best Choreography for An American in Paris, an Outer Critics Award for Best Choreography and Direction for An American in Paris, the Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center, the American Choreography Award, the Dance Magazine Award, multiple London Critics’ Circle Awards, and the Léonide Massine Prize for new choreography. Mr. Wheeldon’s productions of Cinderella and The Winter’s Tale won the Benois de la Danse, and he is an Olivier Award winner for his ballets Aeternum for The Royal Ballet and Polyphonia for Morphoses.
In 2016, Mr. Wheeldon was named an O.B.E. and was made an Honorary Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Photo: Angela Sterling