The biggest news in the 1992-1993 dance season isn't who is dancing, it's who isn't going to appear in Baltimore this year. In one season, the city has managed to lose the Maryland Ballet, Kathy Wildberger's contemporary Path Dance Company, and Juliet Forrest's company, the Forrest Collection. Economic strain and funding cuts have wreaked havoc on an already precarious dance community. Those companies still standing and dancing count themselves fortunate, but struggling.
Kathy Wildberger's flight to New York isn't that surprising. Most dancers end up there sooner or later. When she returns to dance here, we'll refer to her as a New York choreographer and the crowds will come.
Choreographer Juliet Forrest will continue to create dances at Goucher College, where she teaches, but lacking the funding to maintain her own company, her works will be viewed only in conjunction with various other productions around the city.
Dr. Daniel Kane, executive director of the Maryland Ballet, said that though the company's production of "The Nutcracker" last December was fabulous -- "We proved 100 times over that we could put on a first-rate production. We had good sales, and audience response grew. We even added performances" -- unfortunately that wasn't enough to keep the company's studio going. While the Maryland Ballet has physically disappeared from the city -- the studio is closed, no classes, no rehearsals -- the company's choreographer and artistic director, Philip Carman, still remains committed to the city.
According to Dr. Kane, plans are under way for Baltimore to see "The Nutcracker" this season. Through the efforts of Mr. Carman, a production of the ballet is being planned for the Lyric Opera House Dec. 9-20.
Other productions of holiday favorites will be produced by the School for the Performing Arts, Dec. 18, 19, 20; the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis at Maryland Hall for Creative Arts in Annapolis, Dec. 12, 13, 18, 19, 20; and the Ellicott City Ballet Guild at the Howard Community College Smith Theater, Dec. 8-13.
If it's ballet, but not "The Nutcracker" that you're craving, Goucher College is bringing the Washington Ballet in to perform Oct. 24, Feb. 13 and May 1 in Kraushaar Auditorium. This season their performances in Baltimore will precede their Kennedy Center engagements. In October, the Washington Ballet is scheduled to perform "Coup d'Estoc" by Christian Holder, a ballet based on the novel "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," plus Choo-San Goh's "Birds of Paradise" and Ray Barra's "Dumky Variations" with music by Dvorak.
Ballet Theatre of Annapolis will open its season with a program featuring the live accompaniment of composer Stef Scaggiari and former Bolshoi dancer Vyacheslav Mesrotov. Planned for the Oct. 17-18 performances are a classical pas de deux, "Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue" and Carl Orff's "Catulli Carmina." Then, April 17-18, Ballet Theatre of Annapolis will perform "Snow White" and additional works from the company's repertoire.
Toronto's National Ballet of Canada opens the Kennedy Center season this year with an exclusive engagement that will feature John Cranko's hearty ballet "The Taming of the Shrew," plus works by William Forsythe and James Kudelka during the company's stay at the Opera House, Sept. 29 through Oct. 4.
The Joffrey Ballet
The Joffrey Ballet company returns to the Kennedy Center with its annual production of "The Nutcracker" from Dec. 9-20. The Joffrey Ballet will make an encore appearance in Washington in June with performances of a new ballet, "Billboards," featuring the choreography of contemporary dancers Laura Dean, Charles Moulton, Peter Pucci and Margo Sappington to the music of Prince.
Other ballet performances at the Kennedy Center include American Ballet Theatre with the romantic full-length ballet "Manon" (Feb. 2-7), and the Paris Opera Ballet, featuring Nureyev's "La Bayadere" (March 16-28). The Dance Theatre of Harlem, under the artistic direction of Arthur Mitchell, will once again grace the opera house stage (March 30 through April 11).
Baryshnikov at the Warner
The restoration of the Warner Theater in Washington adds another venue for dance this season. Twyla Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov, among the highlights of the dance year, are already scheduled to perform there. The dynamic duo will perform with a company of handpicked dancers Jan. 25-27.
Baltimore's contemporary dance fans may feel their choices are dwindling. But for those who prefer their dance avant-garde, the celebrated Dance on the Edge series will once again provide productions guaranteed to assuage the most jaded appetites.
Dance on the Edge