The Kennedy Center 2023-2024 ballet season features some of the most revered and innovative companies from around the world:
- Ballet West
- American Ballet Theatre
- Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
- Alonzo King LINES Ballet
- New York City Ballet
Director of Dance Programming, Jane Raleigh, expresses:
“This new season represents an expansion for me – an expansion of aesthetics, an expansion of voices contributing to our ballet curation, and an expansion of what ballet at the Kennedy Center looks like. I invite audiences to envision these companies and works along a spectrum and how they add to a fuller understanding of the artistry that comes from dance.”
Alicia Adams, Vice President of Dance and International Programming’ adds:
“The joyful, transformative experience of live performance is unlike anything else. The upcoming season represents an extraordinary range of international and American forms for audiences to immerse themselves in. We are always looking for artists who are creative innovators in the field whether drawing on traditional roots or pushing the boundaries of contemporary concepts. The Center has a long history of celebrating cultural heritage from across the world which we continue in this season.”
The Kennedy Center 2023-2024 Ballet Season Trailer
The ballet season, with live music by the Center’s own Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, kicks off with the return of Ballet West’s beloved Nutcracker followed by the annual engagement of American Ballet Theatre who brings Kevin McKenzie’s production of Swan Lake.
Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo celebrates their 50th anniversary at the Center and Alonzo King LINES Ballet makes their debut.
After New York City Ballet return with George Balanchine’s Jewels, the Center will present 10,000 Dreams: A Celebration of Asian Choreography, calling upon some of the world’s most prominent companies to the stage to celebrate the Asian community’s choreographic contribution to ballet.
The continuation of the Reframing the Narrative series closes out The Kennedy Center 2023-2024 Ballet season with world premieres and recently created works by Black choreographers.
Kennedy Center 2023-2024 Ballet Season Schedule
Ballet West | November 22-26, 2023
- The Nutcracker by Willam Christensen
Featuring Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s timeless holiday score, Ballet West returns to the Kennedy Center with Willam Christensen’s beloved choreography in The Nutcracker.
Last seen at the Center in 2018 and considered to be America’s first Nutcracker, the cherished production takes audiences on a dramatic, whimsical journey and features opulent sets, costumes, props, and spectacular effects, all while maintaining the integrity of the original choreography.
Known as the longest-running full-length production in America, Christensen’s Nutcracker was originally choreographed for San Francisco Ballet in 1944 after conversations with Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine.
American Ballet Theatre | February 21-25, 2024
- Swan Lake by Kevin McKenzie after Petipa and Ivanov
American Ballet Theatre marks its annual engagement with one of the most beloved full-length classical ballets in the canon, Swan Lake.
Set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s glorious score with choreography by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, this romantic fable is one of ill-fated passion, dreamlike transformation, and ultimately, forgiveness. McKenzie’s staging of Swan Lake, having premiered at the Kennedy Center in March of 2000 and last seen at the Center in 2017, preserves Petipa’s traditional choreography while enhancing the ballet, most
noticeably with the addition of the prologue depicting Odette’s capture/transformation.
Evoking a Renaissance court at a lakeside castle, the production features grand sets and costumes by Zack Brown, with lighting by Duane Schuler.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo | April 4-6, 2024
- Swan Lake after Ivanov
- Go for Barocco by Anastos
- The Swan after Fokine
- Paquita Kunikova after Petipa
Last seen at the Center in 2017 and celebrating its 50th anniversary season, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – the all-male ballet troupe that dances en pointe – makes a return to the Opera House accompanied by the full Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.
Presenting a playful, entertaining view of traditional classical ballet in parody form with comedy achieved by incorporating and exaggerating the conventions and incongruities of serious dance, the company will perform traditionally beloved ballet classics in their signature twist including Swan Lake, Go for Barocco, The Swan, Paquita, and an additional work to be announced at a later date.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet | May 16-18
- Deep River by Alonzo King
The acclaimed San Francisco-based contemporary ballet company marks its Kennedy Center debut with its newest work, Deep River. The 65-minute piece features Grammy Award®– winning vocalist Lisa Fischer set to a score by jazz pianist, composer, MacArthur Fellow, and Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz, Jason Moran.
A soulful work fused with Black spirituals created in honor of the company’s 40th anniversary, this is King’s second collaboration with Fischer and his ninth collaboration with Moran.
Celebrating over four decades of evocative dance, master choreographer Alonzo King’s unique artistic vision adheres to the classical form—the linear, mathematical, and geometrical principles deeply rooted in the East-West continuum.
New York City Ballet | June 4-9, 2024
- Jewels by George Balanchine
In its 75th anniversary year, the world-renowned New York City Ballet returns for its annual engagement with Jewels, one of George Balanchine’s most loved ballets and a work that has not been seen at the Center since the 2013–2014 season.
Choreographed for the company in 1967, Jewels is recognized as the first full-length abstract work of classical ballet. In three distinct acts sustained by Karinska’s costumes – the dreamlike “Emeralds,” set to the French composer Gabriel Fauré, the jazzy “Rubies,” set to Igor Stravinsky, and the courtly “Diamonds,” set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Jewels reflects three distinct styles: French romanticism in “Emeralds”, an explosion of neoclassical glamour in “Rubies”, and a celebration of classical splendor in “Diamonds”.
10,000 Dreams: A Celebration of Asian Choreography | June 18-23, 2024
Curated by the Kennedy Center and Phil Chan, a Kennedy Center Next 50 leader and co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface, 10,000 Dreams: A Celebration of Asian Choreography is a week long festival-style engagement at further recognizing and elevating Asian creatives onstage and off.
This celebration will feature a one-night-only Gala and two mixed repertory programs of works all by Asian choreographers from ballet companies across the nation, including several D.C. premieres.
The Washington Ballet, Ballet West, and Houston Ballet will participate as part of the week with repertoire including, respectively: Brett Ishida’s home-coming, Choo San Goh’s Fives, and a pas de deux excerpt from Momentum; new works from Caili Quan and Zhongjing Fang; and Disha Zhang’s Elapse.
Additional companies and artists will be announced at a later date.
The 10,000 Dreams gala evening will have a special focus on the late Choo San Goh, who Chan believes “should be recognized as a great American choreographer and a trailblazer for our community.” A Singaporean-born choreographer of Chinese descent who died in 1987 at the age of 39, Goh served as resident choreographer for The Washington Ballet for nearly a decade, contributing works for American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Paris Opera, the Royal Danish Ballet, Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, among many other companies around the world.
This festival serves as an extension of Final Bow for Yellowface’s mission of making ballet more inclusive.
Conceived in 2017 following a meeting with NYCB’s former Artistic Director Peter Martins about Asian stereotypes in The Nutcracker, the globally recognized initiative works to “replace caricature with character”—to speak up against Yellowface on ballet stages and create Asian representations that are culturally meaningful and engaging to all audiences. This work has manifested into the formation of the Gold Standard Arts Foundation, a service organization for Asian American creatives working in dance.
Pathways to Performance: Exercises in Reframing the Narrative | July 2-3, 2024
- The Crucible by Helen Pickett
The history of Black dancers in ballet is rich – but many voices and many stories have remained untold and unheard. Efforts to reframe the narrative press on…by creating pathways to performance.
A continuation of the work begun during the Center’s 2022 Reframing the Narrative celebration, which celebrated the historical and continuing contributions of Black ballet dancers, guest curator (and founder of Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet) Theresa Ruth Howard returns with results of her most recent endeavor, the Pathways to Performance Choreographic Program.
Pathways cultivates and mentors Black choreographers working in the ballet idiom, providing concrete opportunities for the creation and presentation of new works.
In addition to works by Pathways to Performance Choreographic Fellows, this two-performance engagement features a newly Kennedy Center commissioned ballet by award-winning choreographer Jennifer Archibald.
As with the Reframing the Narrative Residency, the two-week creative process through the Center’s Social Impact Office Hours Residency Program will center Blackness and foster the culture of Ballet to which the field should aspire, culminating in a world premiere work during the engagement. Additional information regarding programming will be announced at a later date.
Featured Photo for the Kennedy Center 2023-2024 Ballet Season of American Ballet Theatre’s Hee Seo and Cory Stearns in Swan Lake. Photo by Gene Schiavone.
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