June 7, 2023

Trio of New Works on Ballet Company Program

THREE PREMIERES: American Repertory Ballet will present a new work by Amy Seiwert as part of the Premiere3 program at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, June 10-11.Shown are Annie Johnson, Shaye Firer, and Erikka Reenstierna-Cates in Amy Seiwert’s 2021 premiere “World, Interrupted.” (Photo by Eduardo Patino, NYC)

American Repertory Ballet (ARB) returns to the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center June 10-11 with Premiere3, two new works by choreographers Ethan Stiefel and Amy Seiwert, and the company premiere of the Arthur Mitchell classic, Holberg Suite.

“Premiere3 offers our audiences three novel and assorted works that showcase the immense talents and heart of our dancers,” said Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel.

The program opens with the revival and company premiere of Holberg Suite, choreographed by New York City Ballet dancer, choreographer, trailblazer, and co-founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), Arthur Mitchell, set to music by Edvard Grieg. Staged by Cassandra Phifer, an original member of the DTH, Holberg Suite will have refreshed costume designs by ARB Resident Designer Janessa Cornell Urwin, in consultation with Vernon L. Ross, former DTH production manager.

“It gives me great joy to restage Holberg Suite for ARB,” said Phifer. “Bringing this 50-year-old ballet back to life for these young dancers has been a blending and balancing of mid-20th century ideas to 21st century sensibilities. We talked about the priorities of the time and being respectful of the past while allowing the here and now to season the work.” 

The program continues with a new work by Amy Seiwert, who will be joining Smuin Contemporary Ballet as associate artistic director for the 2023-24 season. Seiwert most recently choreographed World, Interrupted for ARB’s Digital Spring Series in 2021, a piece created entirely via Zoom due to pandemic restrictions in place at the time.

“My world premiere explores the haunting melodies of Romania’s beloved Maria Tânase, which Alexander Balanescu has reimagined for his string quartet,” said Seiwert. “Balanescu describes himself as an ‘eternal foreigner,’ stating an intention to connect to his native culture. What appeals to me is how this reimaged score transcends a geographical boundary and expresses the more profound human experience. The music speaks more than words, inviting us to feel the universal human experiences of life, loss, love, and community.”

The program concludes with a world premiere by Ethan Stiefel set to Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24, a work for solo piano, which consists of a set of 25 variations and a concluding fugue.

“I have absolutely loved every moment of this transcendent piece of music for several decades. I mean — that fugue! Brahms took the classic theme and variation form and infused it with new, progressive, and soaring ideas, while cleverly honoring the craft and formality found in its predecessors,” said Stiefel. “The music so completely and naturally lends itself to dance, and offers the opportunity for diverse, adventurous, and soulful qualities in both the movement and portrayals.”

Shows at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, which is at 11 Livingston Avenue, are at 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 10; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 11. Tickets start at $25. Visit arballet.org/event/premiere3.