Pennsylvania Ballet announces 2018-19 season: New 'Giselle,' 'Romeo & Juliet'

Pennsylvania Ballet Principal Dancers Oksana Maslova and Ian Hussey in Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV: “Danse à Grande Vitesse.”

The Pennsylvania Ballet will dance new versions Giselle and Romeo & Juliet in the 2018-19 season, artistic director Angel Corella announced Monday.

The two will be among  five world premieres and three company premieres in the ballet’s 55th season.

Pennsylvania Ballet dancers in “Giselle.”

Giselle, premiering March 7 (and running through March 17), is the latest ballet Corella will be restaging. A classic love ballet with a courtyard scene and a lush corps de ballet, Giselle was first performed in 1841 and is regularly mentioned as an audience favorite. The Pennsylvania Ballet performed the classic Marius Petipa version, set to music by Adolphe Adam, most recently in 2012. As Corella is known to do, he will layer his own touch over this iteration.

The season will open Oct. 11 with the company premiere of Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo & Juliet (through Oct. 21). The ballet has danced the John Cranko choreography in the past, but Corella preferred the version MacMillan choreographed in 1965 for the Royal Ballet. Margot Fonteyn danced the role of Juliet and Rudolph Nureyev was Romeo in the original cast. Corella performed this version many times with the American Ballet Theatre when he was dancing.

Many Balanchine fans wondered what would happen to those ballets when Corella was hired in 2014. Corella comes from a more classical background, and the Pennsylvania Ballet had traditionally been a Balanchine company (its founder, Barbara Weisberger, was a student of  Balanchine’s, and she started the company with his encouragement and gifts of his ballets).

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Pennsylvania Ballet dancers in George Balanchine’s “Apollo.”

Indeed, Corella has been reducing the number of Balanchine ballets he programs. The 2018-19 season will have only three, the classic Nutcracker (Dec. 7-31), and an all-Stravinsky program featuring Apollo and the Stravinsky Violin Concerto (along with Jerome Robbins’ The Cage and a Matthew Neenan world premiere) April 4-7.

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Pennsylvania Ballet dancers in “Petite Mort” by Jiří Kylián.

The season also includes a mixed repertoire (Nov. 8-11), featuring Petite Mort by Jiri Kylian and world premieres by Andrea Miller, artistic director of the contemporary Gallim Dance, and Pennsylvania Ballet corps de ballet dancer Russell Ducker.

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The Pennsylvania Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon’s “DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse.”

A second mixed repertoire will close the season May 9-12, with DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse, by Christopher Wheeldon, Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces, and a world premiere by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo that  is likely to be highly anticipated.