The Milwaukee Ballet’s Storybook 2011-12 season
“The driving force is popular demand,” said artistic director Michael Pink, explaining the Milwaukee Ballet’s 2011-2012 season. That season will open with Pink’s Dracula, just in time for Halloween, with a run from Oct. 27-30. The season will also bring back another Michael Pink hit, Peter Pan. Pink created Peter Pan, which features elaborate flying rigging, for the Milwaukee Ballet. The show proved a big box office hit in its debut run in May of 2010. Dracula dates to 1996, when Pink made it for England’s Northern Ballet Theatre. The Milwaukee Ballet has staged it once, in 2005. Both ballets come with original scores by Philip Feeney, costumes by Lez Brotherston and lighting by David Grill, who constitute Pink’s preferred creative team.
In an interview March 4, Pink said he had his doubts about bringing Peter Pan back so quickly (May 10-13, 2012) and about placing so much of his own work on the season. But The Nutcracker (Dec. 10-26) is simply indispensable to MBC and to Milwaukee’s holiday season. (It is also, in my opinion, Pink’s finest work.) The company turned away hundreds from the original run of Pan, which sold out all performances in 2010. And Dracula did very well in 2005 and has turned into a world-wide hit. (You might say that the sun never sets on Michael Pink’s Dracula, which would be ironic.) Pink explains the decision. “So many people never got to see Pan, and we’re confident that people who brought their 5-year-olds will bring them back again when they’re 7,” Pink said. “It’s a calculated risk to put on such a season, and we hope that won’t come back to bite us.”
These shows are pricey to stage. On the other hand, MBC won’t have to pay fees or royalties to outside choreographers for three of its major shows, and both Pan and Dracula have sellout potential. With a little luck the company could do very well on the earned income side in 2011-12. The company will also put on mixed-rep Winter and Spring Series. The Winter program, Feb. 16-19, will take place in the Pabst Theater, also the home of MBC’s biennial Genesis International Choreography Competition. This was a competition year. Mauro de Candia won, and part of his prize is a return engagement. So de Candia will be back to set another new work on the company’s February program. Petr Zahradnicek, a company dancer with a history of creating for the company, will also do a new work. Brock Clawson, who came up through the Chicago jazz ranks in Gus Giordano’s company, will make his Milwaukee debut as a choreographer. The Spring Program, March 29-April 1, 2012, at Uihlein Hall, will bring two new choreographers to Milwaukee. Alejandro Cerrudo, a dancer and, since 2009, resident choreographer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, will stage his Extremely Close, to music by Phillip Glass and Dunstin O’Halloran. Matthew Neenan, who danced primarily with the Pennsylvania Ballet and now is a resident choreographer there, will introduce himself to Milwaukee with The Last Glass, to Balkan-tinged indie rock by Beirut. Lila York, a long-time star of the Paul Taylor Company, will end the show with Celts, a full-company fantasia to Irish music by The Chieftans. The season in a nutshell: Oct. 27-30: Michael Pink’s Dracula, at Marcus Center Uihlein Hall Dec. 10-26: Pink’s The Nutcracker, Uihlein Hall Feb. 16-19: Dances by Brock Clawson, Petr Zahradnicek and Mauro de Candia, Pabst Theater March 29-April 1, 2012: Dances by Lila York, Matthew Neenan and Alejandro Cerrudo, Uihlein Hall May 10-13, 2012: Pink’s Peter Pan, Uihlein Hall The Milwaukee Ballet Company is offering five flexible subscription packages for 2011-2012. To order and for details, visit the company’s website or call 414 902-2103.