Ballet West artistic director Jonas Kage first saw Andrew Prokovsky's "Anna Karenina" while working with the Malmo Opera Ballet in Oslo, Sweden.
"That was many yeas ago," Kage said with a smile. "But I remember the fact it was a good ballet. And it does have an appeal here."Ballet West will revive Prokovsky's "Anna Karenina" at the Capitol Theatre, Nov. 7, 8, 12-15. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. with matinees Nov. 8 and 15, at 2 p.m.
The ballet features the music of Pyotr Illych Tchakovsky that has been arranged with additional music by Guy Woolfenden. The score will be performed by the Utah Chamber Orchestra with Terence Kern conducting.
The costumes and sets, that reflect the Imperial Russia era, were designed by Peter Farmer.
The company premiered this ballet in 1987, nearly eight years after Prokovsky choreographed the three-act ballet. The story, based on the 1878 Tolstoy novel of the same name, is about an upper-class woman disgraced by her involvement in an adulterous relationship. Anna is caught in an unhappy marriage and, out of desperation, abandons her son and aristocratic social identity and eventually kills herself.
"Epic stories such as `Anna Karenina' and `Romeo & Juliet' lend themselves to wonderful story ballets," Kage said. "Choreographers such as Prokovsky and (Kenneth) MacMillan have turned to classic literary stories and even opera librettos to create these types of ballets.
"I think making a ballet like that is such a big job that it draws from both drama and ballet," Kage explained. "The choreographer needs to have quite the capacity to do that and do that well."
Kage, who officially stepped to the Ballet West helm last summer, said he has no intension of keeping the big-story ballets out of Ballet West's repertoire in the future.
"A story like `Anna Karenina' grabs everyone," he said.
Since its world premiere in 1979, Prokovsky has made several revisions, including staging. The most recent version of this production was presented by the Kirov Ballet in Russia.
Changing and making revisions on any production is totally up to the choreographer, said Kage.
"All the changes came from him," Kage said about Prokovsky. "Many people loved it when the company first performed it.
"To me, it represents where Ballet West was in the past," Kage said. "Although it's not part of my new visions for the company, a work like this needs to be part of the repertoire, but it's part of my plan. `Anna Karenina' is challenging to the dancers to be part of a production like this.
"And since this is a work that a majority of the dancers have done, it's good for me to see how they do in something that is a little more comfortable to them. I'm very curious to see what comes out of it all."
- TICKETS for Ballet West's "Anna Karenina" range from $10-$45, with VIP seating available. Tickets can be purchased at the ArtTix box office at the Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, or by calling ArtTix at (801) 355-ARTS (2787).
In conjunction with the performances, the Salt Lake Ballet Guild is sponsoring a public symposium Thursday, Nov. 6, at the Capitol Theatre. The symposium, which will begin at 6:30 p.m., will feature a talk about "Anna Karenina" and its artistic history. Admission is $2 and the doors open at 6:15 p.m.