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American Repertory Ballet Returns to McCarter Theatre Center with "Of Swans and Variants"

originally published: 03/15/2024

American Repertory Ballet Returns to McCarter Theatre Center with "Of Swans and Variants"

ARB Dancer Emily Cordies-Maso, photo by Harald Schrader

(PRINCETON, NJ) -- American Repertory Ballet (ARB) returns to McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, presenting Of Swans and Variants, an enthralling and diverse one-night-only program of classical and contemporary works on Thursday, April 4 at 7:00pm. The evening's double bill features an excerpt from the timeless Swan Lake, as well as the innovative VARIANTS, choreographed by Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel.

After ARB’s sold-out premiere of “Classic Beauty” featuring Swan Lake Act II at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, the company is excited to bring this iconic act of classical ballet to center stage at McCarter Theatre Center. Set against Tchaikovsky’s hauntingly beautiful score, Swan Lake transports audiences into the mesmerizing world of Odette, the swan princess, as she reveals her true form to Prince Siegfried. From the famous “Dance of the Cygnets” to the poignant and renowned romantic pas de deux, this fairytale scene promises to leave audiences of all ages spellbound.

Ethan Stiefel’s VARIANTS, a hit of last season, makes its anticipated Princeton premiere. This fresh and daring work, set to Brahms’ monumental piece for solo piano “Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24”, features twenty-five variations and a concluding fugue. Stiefel remarked, “The music so completely and naturally lends itself to dance, and offers the opportunity for diverse, adventurous, and soulful qualities in both movement and portrayals.” Lauded as “great fun” by Critical Dance, “a celebration” by NJArts, and “celebratory, punchy, comical - a pure party” by The Ballet Herald, this piece is not to be missed.

Collaborating once more with set designer Howard C. Jones, known for his work on previous ARB productions, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Giselle, Stiefel creates an immersive theatrical experience with VARIANTS. In addition, ARB Resident Costume Designer Janessa Cornell Urwin, in partnership with the Australian label Keto Dancewear, has created vibrant costumes to enhance the visual spectacle of the performance.

Tickets range from $25-$45 and are available for purchase online or by calling the McCarter Theatre Center box office at (609) 258-2787. McCarter Theatre Center is located at 91 University Place in Princeton, New Jersey.

VARIANTS is made possible by the generous support of The Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund.

Ethan Stiefel (The Nora C. Orphanides Artistic Director and Choreographer) is an internationally recognized Dancer, Instructor, Coach, Director and Choreographer. Stiefel became American Repertory Ballet’s Artistic Director in July, 2021. In 1989, Stiefel began his professional dance career at age 16 with the New York City Ballet where he quickly rose to the rank of Principal Dancer. Stiefel was also a Principal Dancer with Ballett Zürich followed by being a Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) from 1997-2012. Stiefel has served as Dean of the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) as well as the Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. During his celebrated performing career, Stiefel danced leading roles in all the full-length classics and performed in an extensive range of shorter classical, contemporary, and modern works. Guest appearances include dancing with The Royal Ballet, The Mariinsky Ballet, New York City Ballet, Teatro Colón, The Australian Ballet and many others. He has appeared in numerous film, video and television productions including the feature film Center Stage and the documentary Born to be Wild. As a choreographer, he has created new works for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, The Washington Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, ABT Studio Company, Northern Ballet (UK), The Royal Ballet School, UNCSA, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and the television series Flesh and Bone on the STARZ network. Stiefel has received a number of prestigious awards such as the Statue Award of the Princess Grace Foundation and the Dance Magazine Award. (Photo credit: Harald Schrader Photography)

Led by Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel, and with a distinctive reputation for innovation and individuality, American Repertory Ballet (ARB) is recognized as one of the state’s premier performing arts organizations. Presenting classical repertory alongside new and existing contemporary work, ARB is a founding resident company of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center while also performing in major venues across New Jersey and beyond for an annual audience of more than 30,000. Founded in 1954 as the Princeton Ballet Society, ARB has been consistently designated a “Major Arts Institution'' by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for the past two decades and has repeatedly been awarded a Citation of Excellence by the Council. The company has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and other major foundations and leaders in the field as a prominent force in the field of dance. Princeton Ballet School, ARB’s official school, attracts talent from around the world while providing opportunities for local students of all ages, such as through its award winning DANCE POWER program.

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