As principals in the Ballet Theatre of Maryland rehearsed their Renaissance Festival presentation this week, the demands of their profession were manifest.
Ballerina Christi Bleakly met challenges with strength and grace while Bryan Skates moved from rigorous duels with Joseph Villalobos to executing seamless lifts of Bleakly, including holding her above his head with one hand.
As she supervised the dancers and attended to other details, artistic director Dianna Cuatto provided insight into her choices for her fourth season as director and the 26th season of Maryland's only professional ballet company.
The Annapolis-based company's 2006-07 season opens Oct. 20 with Romeo and Juliet set to the 1935 Prokofiev score. The tale of star-crossed lovers has been choreographed several times since the original Russian version, but Cuatto said.
Cuatto hopes that her choreography "will resonate with the beauty and depth of the play as well as some of these versions have done."
Romeo and Juliet is primarily about fate, and Cuatto's version will personify Fate in the Gypsy of Fate and in two of her tarot cards: the lovers' and the death cards.
On Oct. 21, for the first time, a one-hour performance of Romeo and Juliet will be offered as a children's family event at a reduced rate and will include the fourth annual safe Halloween party and costume contest.
The ballet will dance the family holiday favorite, The Nutcracker, to recorded music, on Dec. 9, 10, 16 and 17 with parties for children scheduled at three performances.
For the third season, the program will feature Cuatto's choreography.
On Feb. 24 and 25, a Director's Choice program will feature the music of composers Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and George Gershwin.
Guest artists from the Annapolis Chorale will perform works including Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms" and Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."
To choreograph "Chichester Psalms," Cuatto said, "I'm now doing research on the psalms in the Bible from different perspectives and also doing research on the Kabbalah for a more mystical side of the psalms."
She noted that "combining choral voices with dance is always a powerful combination where words put into song become a more emotional level of creation when danced."
The Director's Choice program will feature two works choreographed by Skates to Copland's music.
The season will conclude with another work choreographed by Cuatto. Cuatto said she was 16 when she danced in the first Firebird production of this work done in America, dancing the role of Princess Tsarevna to critical national acclaim.
The ballet is "a fairy tale for all ages, complete with villains, monsters, princesses, a prince and of course the magic bird of fire," she said.
Director's Choice will also feature a new work set to Schubert, "Songs," to be choreographed by Keith Lee, formerly of the American Ballet Theatre, and Alvin Ailey.
Cuatto will collaborate with local composer and musician Rob Levit, who will play guitar for the program.
Subscriptions for three-and four-show series are available. The four-show series costs $136 for adults, $107 for ages 65 and up, $71 for students ages 10 to 22 and $54 for younger children.
Prices for the three-show series that includes Romeo and Juliet, Director's Choice and Firebird are $102 for adults, $80 for seniors, $54 for students and $40 for children.
For information or to obtain a copy of the season brochure call Ballet Theatre of Maryland at 410-263-8289 or the box office at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis at 410-280-5640.