New Orleans Ballet Association presents
A Star-Studded Weekend with
The Spectacular Gala des Etoiles
and Extraordinary Main Stage Performance
"Ballet in Joffrey's hands is accessible, provocative, and sublimely beautiful." The Chicago Tribune
New Orleans, LA (February 12, 2014) - Back by popular demand, the New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) proudly presents America's ballet treasure, The Joffrey Ballet under the direction of Artistic Director Ashley C. Wheater, for a two-night, star-studded weekend at the Mahalia Jackson Theater on March 28 and 29. The weekend kicks off with the Ballet Resource And Volunteer Organization's (BRAVO) glamorous Gala des Etoiles on Friday evening at 7 p.m. In addition to fine dining, live music and auction items, this unique gala event will feature an intimate performance by an ensemble of The Joffrey Ballet with excerpts from celebrated works by renowned choreographers George Balanchine, Stanton Welch, Lar Lubovitch, Christopher Wheeldon, Edwaard Liang and Twyla Tharp.
On Saturday evening at 8 p.m., the company brings an extraordinary, full Main Stage program with works by legendary Tony Award-winning Broadway icons Jerome Robbins (West Side Story) and Twyla Tharp (Movin' Out), along with rising choreographic star and former Bolshoi dancer Yuri Possokhov.
Gala Des Etoiles - Friday, March 28, 7 p.m.
BRAVO presents Gala des Etoiles, an incredible fundraising special event and memorable evening at the Mahalia Jackson Theater exclusively for only 300 patrons. Upon arrival at the theater's VIP entrance, attendees will be escorted backstage for champagne and hors d'oeuvres before taking their seats to enjoy the specially-crafted, 30-minute performance by an ensemble of exquisite artists of The Joffrey Ballet from a unique vantage point - onstage with the dancers.
As the main curtain rises following the performance, the elevated dining area and silent auction will be revealed in brilliant fashion as guests walk the red carpet across the stage to their tables on platforms set up over the orchestra section of the theater. Patrons will enjoy a seated dinner by chefs from Martinique Bistro, Dick and Jenny's, and Cristiano Ristorante under the direction of celebrated restaurateurs Cristiano Raffignone and Kelly Barker; a silent auction; and dancing to the music of the ever-popular Boogie Men.
On March 19, the Windsor Court Hotel will host a dinner for benefactor-level patrons with special guest Ashley C. Wheater, Joffrey's Artistic Director. BRAVO's Gala des Etoiles supports NOBA's tuition-free, nationally award-winning education and scholarship programs and the Main Stage Series of internationally-renowned dance companies.
Gala des Etoiles tickets start at $300 with sponsorship opportunities up to $25,000. For more information, call 504-522-0996 x.208 or visit. www.NOBAdance.com.
The Joffrey Ballet Main Stage Performance - Saturday, March 29, 8 p.m.
As a pioneering force of innovation in American dance for more than half a century, The Joffrey Ballet, under the direction of Artistic Director Ashley C. Wheater, brings an extraordinary program featuring seldom seen works by two American trailblazers, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp, and former Bolshoi Ballet dancer and current San Francisco Ballet choreographer in residence Yuri Possokhov.
The evening begins with Robbins' jazzy Interplay (1945), featuring music by Morton Gould, his second creation following the success of Fancy Free. This energetic, playful ballet for eight dancers conveys the curiosity of youth in the same style as his masterpiece West Side Story. The Chicago Tribune celebrates Interplay as "a seminal work... that warmly gleams with his innovative mix of ballet and pop dance, jazzy and yet crammed with fiendish technical demands." The centerpiece of the evening, Possokhov's Bells, is a 2011 commission by The Joffrey Ballet set to piano music by Sergei Rachmaninov that mixes "classic form with seething intensity" and "embraces an often exhilarating tradition only to tease and tickle it whenever the mood strikes," says The Chicago Tribune.
The grand finale of the night is one of Tharp's most famous and popular works, the stylishly elegant Nine Sinatra Songs (1982), a famous ballroom-meets-Broadway ballet featuring gorgeous Oscar de la Renta costumes. It is set to legendary "Old Blue Eyes" hits like One for My Baby, Strangers in the Night and That's Life. Tharp beautifully captures the many facets of falling in love through nine sultry, comic and glamorous vignettes that The New York Times hails as "an indisputable winner."
Performance tickets ranging from $20-$80 may be purchased through the New Orleans Ballet Association Box Office at (504) 522-0996 or online at www.NOBAdance.com, and through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com. Discounts are available for students, seniors and groups. All audience members are invited to join Artistic Director Ashley C. Wheater at 7:15 p.m. upstairs on the Mezzanine, Level M2, of the Mahalia Jackson Theater for a pre-performance talk.
The Joffrey Ballet in the Community
The Joffrey Ballet will conduct a master class for the NORDC/NOBA Center for Dance students on Saturday, March 29, from 10:15 a.m.-11:45 a.m. at Tulane University.
The Joffrey Ballet is sponsored by Superior Energy Services, Inc. Additional support for the performance and gala is provided by Chevron, Wells Fargo, Phyllis M. Taylor, Peoples Health, the Windsor Court Hotel and Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry. American Airlines is the official airline of the New Orleans Ballet Association and the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel is the official hotel.
The Joffrey Ballet Company History
The Joffrey Ballet has been hailed as "America's Company of Firsts." The Joffrey Ballet's long list of "firsts" includes being the first dance company to perform at the White House at Jacqueline Kennedy's invitation, the first to appear on television, the first classical dance company to go multi-media, the first to commission a rock ‘n' roll ballet, the first and only dance company to appear on the cover of Time magazine, and the first company to have had a major motion picture based on it, Robert Altman's The Company.
For more than a half-century, The Joffrey Ballet's commitment to taking world-class, artistically vibrant work to a broad and varied audience has created a solid foundation that continues to support the company's unprecedented capacity for achieving important "firsts." Today, the Joffrey, which has been hugely successful in its former residences in New York and Los Angeles, lives permanently in its brilliant new facility, Joffrey Tower, in the heart of America, Chicago, Illinois. The company's commitment to accessibility is met through the most extensive touring schedule of any dance company in history, an innovative and highly effective education program including the much lauded Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, and collaborations with myriad other visual and performing arts organizations.
Classically trained to the highest standards, The Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company and audiences and repertoire which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works. Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956 and guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley C. Wheater. The Joffrey Ballet has become one of the most revered and recognizable arts organizations in America and one of the top dance companies in the world.
The Joffrey is a world-class, Chicago-based ballet company and dance education organization committed to artistic excellence and innovation, presenting a unique repertoire encompassing masterpieces of the past and cutting-edge works. The Joffrey is committed to providing arts education and accessible dance training through its Joffrey Academy of Dance and Community Engagement programs.
Ashley C. Wheater, Artistic Director
Ashley C. Wheater has dedicated his life to dance. He was born in Scotland and trained at the Royal Ballet School in England. He worked with Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan, and Michael Somes in numerous ballets at Covent Garden, including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Manon, Anastacia and The Dream. Mr. Wheater danced with Rudolph Nureyev in Nureyev and Friends at the London Coliseum.
On Mr. Nureyev's advice, Mr. Wheater joined the London Festival Ballet and danced in his Romeo and Juliet and Sleeping Beauty. He danced in Glen Tetley's Sphinx and Greening and in Festival Ballet's large repertoire of classics and new creations. Under the artistic direction of John Field he was promoted to principal dancer at the age of 20.
In 1982, he joined the Australian Ballet where he continued dancing principal roles in both classical and contemporary work, especially in the John Cranko full-length ballets.
In 1985, at the invitation of Gerald Arpino, Mr. Wheater joined The Joffrey Ballet. For the next four years he performed various works by American choreographers including William Forsythe, Gerald Arpino, Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, and Laura Dean, as well as repertoire by Ashton and Cranko.
Joining the San Francisco Ballet in 1989, he continued his creative career working under Helgi Tomasson, and with choreographers James Kudelka, David Bintley and many more. In 1997, he retired from dancing and was appointed ballet master and, later, assistant to the artistic director at the San Francisco Ballet.
Since his appointment in 2007 as artistic director of The Joffrey Ballet, his passion and commitment to the Joffrey have been evident in the quality that he has brought to the dancing and to the repertoire. He has invited world-renowned choreographers, as well as fresh young talent, to create new work for the company. Mr. Wheater has added new full-length works to the Joffrey's repertoire, including Lar Lubovitch's groundbreaking Othello, Ronald Hynd's The Merry Widow and Yuri Possokhov's Don Quixote.
In 2008, Mr. Wheater was the recipient of the Boeing Game-Changer Award in recognition of his commitment to community engagement in Chicago and to the celebration of diversity through dance. In 2010, Mr. Wheater, representing The Joffrey Ballet, was named Lincoln Academy Laureate, the highest honor presented by the State of Illinois.
NOBA is the Central Gulf region's premiere presenting and service organization dedicated solely to the art of dance. NOBA's dynamic Main Stage season annually features a diverse array of world-class companies and artists. Each year NOBA provides concerts, classes, workshops and lectures to more than 30,000 area dance enthusiasts of all ages. In addition, NOBA's nationally recognized award-winning education programs provide the youth of our community access to quality arts programs with over 5,000 free dance classes and workshops annually at ten sites throughout the Greater New Orleans area.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA); a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and the NEA, a Federal agency; a Community Arts Grant made possible by the City of New Orleans, and is administered by the Arts Council of New Orleans (ACNO); and a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and is administered through ACNO.
Editor's Note: Digital images are available by request through Sarah Chambless at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.324.4242. Please only use show-approved images.