Ballet Theatre of Maryland has planned a varied 21st season that will include contemporary and classical ballets, new Spanish choreography, and several new dancers to go along with the usual returning favorites.
"We have the largest number of principal dancers ever in our 20-year history, and some of the most accomplished," Artistic Director Edward Stewart said of the 2001-2002 season. "This is truly our most international group, coming from Mongolia, Korea and Russia."
Stewart seems most impressed with the new principal dancer, Bat-Erdine Udval, a native of Mongolia who recently arrived in Annapolis from the defunct Cleveland-San Jose Ballet. He was formerly with the Russian State Ballet in Moscow and received dance training at Perm Choreographic Institute in Perm, Russia.
Another new dancer, Ji-Hoon Yeom, is a native of Pusan, South Korea, and danced in that country with the Universal Ballet. Other new principals include Enrica Guana Tseng, who was born in Italy, and another Korean native, Mi-la Lee.
Zhirui "Regina" Zou, the principal ballerina and an audience favorite, will return to Annapolis this season.
Other returning principal dancers and soloists include Sergei Vladimirov, Ninel Cherevko, Dmitri Malikov, Anmarie Touloumis, Jennifer Dancesia Waldon, Jeffrey Watson and Amber Lynn Zecker. The company is also blessed with an abundance of dance talent in its corps de ballet.
Since its beginning, Ballet Theatre of Maryland has been guided by Stewart, who is largely responsible for its longevity. The fact that it remains Maryland's only full-time professional dance company can be partly explained, as Stewart once noted, by his always being "frugal, never extravagant."
Perhaps equally important to the company's survival is Stewart's awareness of each dancer's strengths and his ability to showcase them in his choreography.
Although a skilled choreographer, Stewart has always welcomed others, such as the innovative Anton Wilson. This season, he said, he is particularly taken with the unique skills of Luis Fuente, the former principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, who is carving out what seems an equally brilliant career as a choreographer.
In town this week, Fuente took time from rehearsing to describe the dance he created for the company's opening program in October at the Maryland Hall for Creative Arts. He described the work as: "Set to the flamenco music of Gerardo Nurfley and titled `Momentos,' it is a neoclassical ballet where eight ballerinas dance on point to flamenco rhythms."
On the same October program are "Masquerade Suite," choreographed by Stewart to Aram Khachaturian's energetic music, and "L'apres-midi d'une jeune fille," choreographed by Stewart to music by Ludwig Minkus and Leo Delibes. Illustrating the wide range of dance offerings, the program also features one of the most famous pas de deux in all classical ballet, "Le Corsaire," based on the choreography of Marius Petipa.
In December, five performances of The Nutcracker will be offered at Maryland Hall.
In March, La Boutique Fantasque, a family ballet choreographed by Stewart to the music of Rossini and Shostakovich, will be performed twice at Maryland Hall.
On April 14, a special treat - Carmina Burana - will be offered only to subscribers at Alumni Hall of the Naval Academy, with the ballet choreographed by Stewart.
Information: ballet box office, 410-263-8289.
All performances by the Ballet Theatre of Maryland will be at Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St. in Annapolis, except as noted.
Opening program, including "Momentos" and "Le Corsaire," 8 p.m. Oct. 13 and 3 p.m., Oct. 14.
The Nutcracker, 2 p.m. Dec. 8; 3 p.m. Dec. 9; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 15; and 2 p.m. Dec. 16.
La Boutique Fantasque, 8 p.m. March 2 and 3 p.m. March 3.
Carmina Burana, 2 p.m. April 14 at the Naval Academy.