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Pennsylvania Ballet Presents Director’s Choice Mixed Bill, May 8-11 at the Academy of Music

Pennsylvania Ballet Principal Dancers Julie Diana and Zachary Hench in Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain
Photo: Alexander Iziliaev

Pennsylvania Ballet presents Director’s Choice, a mixed bill inspired by the Company’s intrepid leaders, May 8-11 at the Academy of Music.

“This program features a work by one of our Company’s former Artistic Directors, a World Premiere from one of our founder’s protégés, and a piece fairly new to our repertoire that has quickly become an audience favorite,” Artistic Director Roy Kaiser says. “It’s a fresh program with roots in Pennsylvania Ballet’s great tradition – perfect for our 50th Anniversary Season.”

Former Artistic Director Robert Weiss’ Grieg: Piano Concerto receives its Company premiere on Director’s Choice. Created in 2011 for Carolina Ballet, where Weiss is now director, Grieg: Piano Concerto is romantic and pure, with 21 dancers and a sheer white curtain floating across the back of the stage.  Pennsylvania Ballet will be just the second company ever to present this work.

Award-winning choreographer Trey McIntyre creates a World Premiere for this program. Mr. McIntyre’s early dancemaking was showcased at the Carlisle Project, created by Pennsylvania Ballet founder Barbara Weisberger. To date, he has crafted a canon of more than 90 works for some of the world’s most revered companies. His new piece for Pennsylvania Ballet is for six dancers, set to the music of Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson, with hand-painted costumes designed by Andrea Lauer based on the paintings of Francis Bacon.

Also on the program, Christopher Wheeldon’s compelling and intimate After the Rain showcases inventive partnering and heartfelt emotion. The first section of this piece features three couples. The second, most-identifiable part is a pas de deux. The ballerina is dressed in a pink leotard and her partner is bare-chested. At times they are close and tender with one another, while at other times they are separated and searching for one another, all set to the moving music of Arvo Pärt. Premiered to great acclaim on Pennsylvania Ballet’s stage in 2013, Wheeldon’s After the Rain is one of three ballets featured in the nationwide broadcast, Pennsylvania Ballet at 50, a WHYY production for PBS airing Friday, May 2 at 9 p.m.

This series is among the final performances by Principal Dancer Julie Diana. After a remarkable 21-year career, Ms. Diana retires from the stage this spring. In Philadelphia, Ms. Diana’s final performance will be in After the Rain alongside her husband, Principal Dancer Zachary Hench on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 11 at 2 p.m. She also will join the An accomplished writer, Ms. Diana plans to focus on her writing and spend more time with her young family upon her retirement.

Ms. Diana will reflect on her performance career and upcoming chapter at the next Conversations with Pennsylvania Ballet – a free, public discussion series – on Monday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Philadelphia City Institute Library at 19th & Locust Streets.

Tickets to Director’s Choice at the Academy of Music are on sale now, with prices ranging from $30-$125

Director’s Choice performances at the Academy of Music:
Thursday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 10 at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 11 at 2 p.m.

Toast the performances with a FREE Pre-Show Talk on Friday, May 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Broad & Locust Streets, open to all Director’s Choice ticketholders. Sip a complimentary cocktail and get behind-the-scenes stories from the rehearsal studio.

- Steven Weisz

Founder & Editor
While not a dancer himself, Weisz’s love for the arts and dance started as a child growing up in New York City. With parents, who were strong supporters of the arts and part of a community with an incredible array of notable artists in music, dance, theater and fine arts, Weisz’s access and affinity for the performing arts took root. Upon attending college in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid 70’s, Weisz started performing as a puppeteer, magician, juggler and fire eater as a means of supplementing his income. This soon grew in to what became Rainbow Promotions Inc., one of the largest entertainment and special events producers in the region. It was here that he began to promote and book dance for major events throughout the city. Many of the dancers he worked with in the early days of his company are now major choreographers in Philadelphia. At the same time, Weisz’s interest in computers and the early developments of what is now known as the Internet, led him to also start another company, Delaware Valley On Line, which became one of the first regional ISPs. It was this combination of event production, internet development and event marketing that led him to examine the use of the internet as a means to promote the arts. Dance continued to be a major interest for Weisz and in 2005 he founded PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as a major online resource to promote dance in the city. It was soon after that the Dance Journal was also founded as a way to provide an outlet for writing on a range of topics that encompass the ever growing and emerging dance community in the region. Weisz continues to run both PhiladelphiaDANCE and The Dance Journal on purely a voluntary basis with no income derived from any of his projects. He is also the Artistic Director of Graffito Works, a unique platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.

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