There is a notion that ballet, much like anything else, fades in and out of popularity. Previously, ballet was thought by some to be in crisis, with fresh talent and ideas struggling to break through and dance companies undergoing a difficult time obtaining funding for productions. In news sure to cause a sigh of relief: ballet is experiencing a resurgence.
Ballet is not in the same place it once was during the 1980s golden age of ballet, back when Mikhail Baryshnikov was a principal dancer and Orlando Ballet artistic director, Robert Hill was dancing with American Ballet Theater. However, it certainly isn’t in a lull.
“Everyone realizes that in order to keep the art form vibrant and alive you have to continue to do these more sort of artistically, envelope pushing, forward type of ballets,” said Robert Hill.
“Contemporary Wonders,” is just the kind of production to help keep the momentum going and the world of dance vibrant; it’s relevant, entertaining, and also keeps the dancers’ creativity engaged. In fact, Orlando Ballet board members, Krista and Jonathan Ledden, generously donated $100,000 to sponsor “Contemporary Wonders,” partly based on its merits as a new and inventive production. “Contemporary Wonders,” is a three part production and will showcase the talents of three local talents.
Three seems to be a theme as “Contemporary Wonders,” will also feature three premieres, at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, May 4 through 6, 2018. The company premiere of Jessica Lang’s “From Foreign Lands and People,” along with two world premieres; one of which is Arcadian Broad’s “Mad Hatter’s Wonderland,” and the other is a special collaboration between renowned vocalist and “The Voice” star, Sisaundra Lewis and Orlando Ballet’s Artistic Director, Robert Hill entitled, “Love Is.”
The beauty of this production is that each part will feature its own take on contemporary dance: ranging from classical pointe to more off kilter steps, for a ballet company, like tap and jazz.
“There’s nothing that really connects the three pieces. They’re all completely different. I guess the only thing they have in common is that they’re all contemporary and contemporary is a very blanket term. Because, basically contemporary can mean anything’s possible, anything can happen in that genre,” said Arcadian Broad.
Jessica Lang’s “From Foreign Lands and People,” will open “Contemporary Wonders,” with beautiful ballet based choreography; poetic moves evoking a sense of sophistication.
Then, Orlando Ballet Artist in Residence, Arcadian Broad will present “Mad Hatter’s Wonderland,” which he both choreographed and composed. Broad’s original rendition and world premiere tells the origin story of the Mad Hatter as he journeys within Wonderland, and interestingly enough this narrative will take place after Alice leaves Wonderland.
“This piece that I’m doing is like a preview, like a trailer performance to the full production. So everything is very raw and not production ready and that is the appeal for this preview performance,” Arcadian Broad said.
Broad’s full-length production of “Mad Hatter’s Wonderland” will debut April 2019 in “Arcadian Broad’s Wonderland: Mad Tales of the Hatter.”
“Contemporary Wonders,” will close with “Love Is,” a collaboration featuring choreography by Robert Hill and live vocals performed by Sisaundra Lewis. The piece will include songs from The Greatest Showman, such as, “Hallelujah” and “Never Enough.”
“Come with an open mind. Come not needing to understand ballet beyond just sitting in the audience, and listening to beautiful music and watching beautiful creativity on the stage,” said Robert Hill.
Mr. Hill suggests those in attendance to think of the production as a lovely candy box sampler with three different tasty pieces, simply meant to be enjoyed. Mr. Broad believes audience members will leave feeling satisfied and full.
Tickets for “Contemporary Wonders” start at just $19, and can be purchased by visiting: drphillipscenter.org/events/tickets/2018/contemporary-wonders/ or by calling the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts box office at 844-513-2014.