Even though Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux won’t stage new works in his 20th and final year as artistic director of Charlotte Ballet, his handprints are all over the 2016-17 season.
It closes with “MAP,” a work by Alonzo King that was the first piece Bonnefoux commissioned two decades ago. It’s full of work by guys to whom Bonnefoux has been loyal over his tenure: associate artistic director Sasha Janes, resident choreographer Dwight Rhoden, Charlotte Ballet II program director Mark Diamond.
It brings a mind-expanding local premiere by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. And it offers three big story ballets: a completely refurbished “Nutcracker,” a revival of “Sleeping Beauty” in which Bonnefoux and associate artistic director Patricia McBride re-mount the original choreography by Marius Petipa, and Janes’ new version of “Wuthering Heights.”
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In fact, the company has dedicated the whole season to its third and longest-lasting artistic director, who will hold the reins until Hope Muir takes over in summer 2017. The annual gala fundraiser, Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte, will pay tribute to Bonnefoux in March; a new event, “Night at the Nutcracker,” gives attendees the first chance to see excerpts from the new production before it opens to the public.
Here’s what you’ll see:
“Fall Works,” Oct. 20-22, Knight Theater: Naharin has created a Gaga method – he doesn’t like to call it a technique – which allows for spontaneity, and his “Minus 16” will have a score ranging from mambo to techno to traditional Israeli music. Rhoden will bring back “The Groove,” an athletically slinky piece that last played here in 2012; it’s set to house music in a party situation.
“The Nutcracker,” Dec. 3-23, Belk Theater: We’ll get to see what the $1 million gift from the McColl family has bought in the way of new sets, costumes and props; Bonnefoux is keeping his choreography mostly intact, and of course the Charlotte Symphony will play.
“Innovative Works,” Jan. 27-Feb. 18, McBride-Bonnefoux Center for Dance: This annual program, which Bonnefoux created in his first season here, will yield new ballets by Diamond, Janes and former company member David Ingram. A dessert reception with the dancers and artistic staff follows, and you can chat there with Bonnefoux.
“Sleeping Beauty,” March 10-19, Knight Theater: Tchaikovsky’s music accompanies Princess Aurora as she battles a fairy’s curse and attracts a stalwart prince. This version, which recreates Petipa’s choreography, premiered here in 2012.
“Wuthering Heights,” April 27-29, Knight Theater: Janes adapts Emily Bronte’s masterful novel about love, revenge, separation and death on the British moors at the end of the 18th century. King’s “MAP,” a soul cry set to the music of Arvo Pärt (and, in one place, danced in silence), closes the season.