Pennsylvania Ballet at 50
Watch the full episode above
About the Program
Pennsylvania Ballet at 50 showcases one of Philadelphia’s cultural treasures, Pennsylvania Ballet, and honors the company’s golden anniversary. Produced by WHYY in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet at 50 is a one-hour show featuring the company’s 50th anniversary celebration performance from October 2013 at Philadelphia’s historic Academy of Music. The program highlights spectacular performances alongside exclusive interviews with Barbara Weisberger, Pennsylvania Ballet founder, and Roy Kaiser, artistic director of the company. Multi-Emmy Award-winning director of dance documentaries, Matthew Diamond, directs the production. Diamond has also directed commercial series such as “Desperate Housewives” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
A ballet of bold movements and heartfelt emotion, Part I of Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain opens the program. Choreographed to music by Arvo Pärt, After the Rain features three couples performing a series of intricate lifts and turns that often mirror one another. Under the Sun Pas de Deux by Margo Sappington originally premiered in Philadelphia and is a fairytale fantasy ballet inspired by American sculptor Alexander Calder’s mobiles, miniature circus, mechanized sculpture and sense of humor. The full ballet follows the adventures of Corolla, the Sun Child, and her hypnotic attraction to the Fantasy Family of the beautiful Etincelle, Queen of the Mobiles. The third featured ballet is “Diamonds” from Jewels by George Balanchine. “Diamonds” is the third section of a three-act ballet that uses music from three composers and recalls the order and grandeur of Imperial Russia and the Maryinsky Theater, where Balanchine was trained. The ballet is choreographed to Tschaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 in D major, Op. 29.
Pennsylvania Ballet is one of the premier ballet companies in the United States and has been at the forefront of American dance since 1963. The company has earned a national reputation for its impassioned artistry and technical virtuosity and has received widespread critical acclaim for its performances of a diverse classical and contemporary repertoire with a Balanchine base. Captured in this production, the energy and exuberance of its versatile dancers are the company’s enduring signature.
Major funding provided by
Joseph and Marie Field, Janet and James Averill, Ford Foundation, Elizabeth R. Moran, PBS and The Pew Charitable Trusts.