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Washington Ballet Kicks Off New Season


The Washington Ballet, considered one of the finest ballet companies in the United States, opened its season recently to enthusiastic audiences in the nation's capital. Formed in 1976, the troupe performs throughout the country, as well as internationally, and operates one of the top dance training facilities in the U.S. For producer Behnam Nateghi, VOA's Jim Bertel has more.

The Washington Ballet kicked off its new season with an ambitious performance that began with Jerome Robbins' nocturnal romance, "In the Night." The dance features three couples exploring their relationships to the music of Chopin.

The night's program also included the highly energized dance, "In the Upper Room," set to the music of Philip Glass and staged by world renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp.

Nestled between the two well-known performances was an original work from the Washington Ballet's Artistic Director Septime Webre, called, "oui, non". He says the goal of the "eclectic" performance is to offer a glimpse into real life. “Well, I think the whole program needs to be a journey for the audience. And we live in a very complex world. I like our repertoire to reflect the complexity of the world around us. So, I think the evening is a really nice journey from Chopin and through Philip Glass' contemporary world to this great French Cabaret. It is a bit like life itself, many different experiences, the sum total of which is what we are left with.”

Webre's "oui, non' has received mixed reviews, but has won acclaim from many for his ambitious originality featuring a live performance from cabaret singing star Karen Akers. "I have been a fan of hers for many, many years, she is a major international figure in the music world. I feel like her interpretations are so emotional, intelligent and intimate. And also the French content is great, I'm half Cuban and half French and I have a lot of roots in France and through my life have spent many, wonderful, wonderful times in France. And so it is music that feels sort of nostalgic to me. And it has been a great experience.

The Washington Ballet performs in the nation's capital at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The troupe's season runs through the end of May.