The Washington Ballet reveals its 40th Season

The Washington Ballet with Artistic Director Julie KentThe Washington Ballet (TWB) recently announced its historic 2016-17 Season, which marks the 40th anniversary of the company and the first season with Artistic Director Julie Kent. The mainstage season is a rich and powerful assortment of works within TWB repertoire as well as company premieres from Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky and a commissioned world premiere. Two new behind-the-scenes series provide unique enrichment opportunities for dance enthusiasts and Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker returns as the regional holiday favorite. TWB Studio Company performs in a family-friendly ballet as well as an evening of new works choreographed by company members.


The Washington School of Ballet was founded 72 years ago in 1944 by legendary dance pioneer and visionary Mary Day. In 1976, she established the professional dance company. Now its 40th anniversary will be celebrated in honor of its significant cultural contribution to the nation’s capital.


The Washington Ballet’s 2016-17 Season will open with a one-night-only 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, September 30 in the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater. The celebration will feature works by two choreographers who changed the course of TWB – Choo San Goh and Septime Webre.


Esmiana Jani and Tamas Krizsa in Juanita y AliciaThe mainstage season includes four performances at Harman Center, Warner Theatre and the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater and Opera House. Kent notes, “We are pleased to be presenting our first ballet in the Kennedy Center Opera House as we begin to present larger-scale works and we look forward to having the flexibility to use the incredible venues at the Kennedy Center to best serve the works that we present to the greater D.C. metropolitan region.”


The first full-length ballet to be presented there is Giselle, as restaged by Julie Kent and Victor Barbee. The classic will run Wednesday, March 1 to Sunday, March 5, 2017.


The first program of mixed repertoire will be presented at the Harman Center on Wednesday, March 29 to Sunday, April 2, 2017. It will include Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, Justin Peck’s In Creases and William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. Program 2—set for the Warner Theatre at the end of April 2017—will feature George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, Alexei Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas and Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs. Lastly, Program 3 presents Antony Tudor’s Jardin aux Lilas (“Lilac Garden”), Frederick Ashton’s The Dream and a world premiere at the Kennedy Center Opera House at the conclusion of May 2017.


Venus Villa and Brooklyn Mack for GiselleThe new enrichment series includes: Dialogue with Dancers, an opportunity to learn about company dancers, their backgrounds, motivations and approach to their roles in upcoming performances; and Beyond the Stage, a series of pre-performance opportunities to enrich patrons’ appreciation of each mainstage performance.


The Studio Company will perform Aladdin at THEARC Theater (in mid-March 2017) as well as four performances of new works choreographed by TWB company dancers (in late October.) These performances reflect TWB’s ongoing commitment to nurturing the development of its dancers, and commissioning and presenting new choreographic works. This will mark the first season that THEARC Theater will serve as the dedicated performance venue for all TWB Studio Company performances and is part of TWB’s effort to further expand opportunities in Southeast D.C.


For the 40th anniversary season, two new dancers have joined the company – Cuban ballet dancer Rolando Sarabia and American ballerina Brittany Stone. Sarabia has danced with companies throughout the world, including the Cuban National Ballet, Houston Ballet, Miami City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre as a guest artist in 2011. He is often compared to the young Mikhail Baryshnikov and has been called the “Cuban Nijinsky” by The New York Times. Stone, on the other hand, joins TWB from Boston Ballet. She studied in both the pre-professional program at American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and North Carolina School of the Arts. In 2012, she was Boston Ballet’s Princess Grace Award nominee.


In addition, dancer Adelaide Clauss has been hired as an apprentice from the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company and Stephen Nakagawa has been promoted to the Studio Company from the TWB trainee program.


Even with all the company changes, TWB fans can look forward to the comforting D.C. perennial favorite, Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker, returning November 26-December 24, first for a short visit to the THEARC Theater and then for the entire month of December to the Warner Theatre. This celebrated production is set in historic Georgetown with George Washington and King George III among other historical figures.


Tickets for Fixed Series and Family Series Subscriptions are now on sale. Choose-Your-Own Subscriptions are on sale beginning Monday, August 15. For more information, visit To hear more from Kent about the new season, check out this article in The Washington Post.


Photo (top): The Washington Ballet with Artistic Director Julie Kent. Photo (left): Company dancers Esmiana Jani and Tamas Krizsa in Septime Webre’s Juanita y Alicia, his first choreography for TWB which will be revived for the 40th Anniversary Celebration at the Kennedy Center in September. Photo (right): Company dancers Venus Villa and Brooklyn Mack for Giselle. All photos by Dean Alexander.