Texas Ballet Theater's 2014-15 Season Includes Two Nutcrackers and Sexy Petite Mort

Mark this in your calendar for next year, folks, April 29 is now officially Fort Worth Dance Day. To celebrate it, Texas Ballet Theater announced its 2014/2015 season. Featuring a princess, a solider, a merry widow, some shiny jewels, and a sexy rendezvous, TBT will be offering a selection of classical works, contemporary pieces, one world premiere, and live music by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra--but only at select performances, since musicians cost extra money, and raising those sources has been a constant concern in this dance community.

The season will begin with, The Sleeping Beauty, October 17-19 at Bass Performance Hall. TBT does a good job when it comes to restaging classical pieces like this one and familiarizing their bodies with iconic choreography from such masters as Marius Petipa. This piece will undoubtedly live up their reputation, but be warned, this is a long show. Beautiful, but long. And while we are all familiar with the story of Sleeping Beauty, the ballet focuses on two main conflicting forces of good, the Lilac Fairy, and evil, the wicked fairy godmother, and we are without the lovely songs and poetic dialogue that our childhood Disney-infused brains recognize. Act III takes a turn away from the story that we know and focuses more on the community of the palace. At least, there will be live music at select performances.

Of course, TBT will be sticking with their holiday routine of doubling up on Nutcrackers. November 28-December 7, they will perform Tchaikovsky and Petipa's The Nutcracker at the Winspear Opera House, and then again December 12-December 27 at Bass Performance Hall. For one-night only, on December 19, they will stage their PG-13 version, The Nutty Nutcracker. If you haven't seen this version, try it on for size. It's different every year and is created by the dancers and the artistic staff of the company. It's a way for them to relax, to forget about Clara, The Sugar Plum Fairy, and that damn Arabian dance (I say that with love. It's my favorite part of the original version, but I feel for every dancers' back when their perform this variation), and have some fun with their audience.

Another classic they will present is George Balanchine's "Rubies." Act II of Balanchine's three-act plotless ballet, Jewels, "Rubies" is the most readily performed section. Inspired by the work of jewelry designer Claude Arpels, each section of the ballet illustrates the mood the selected jewels elicit. "Rubies" is crisp and witty, at least that is what Balanchine saw in its redness.

The season will also include a commissioned world premiere from London-native Jonathan Watkins, Artistic Director Ben Stevenson's Five Poems, the company's premiere of Ronald Hynd's The Merry Widow and Jirí Kyliàn's Petite Mort.

The piece that might call the most attention to both audiences and the press is the performance of Petite Mort. Kyliàn created it in 1991 for his Nederlands Dans Theatre and it has since become a staple for many dance groups, but it is new to Texas Ballet Theater.

Maybe this work will bring a new life to TBT. Normally, they stick to tradition, with a few contemporary works thrown in for good measure and for a refreshing break from the tulle, glitter, and sweetness of classical ballet. Petite Mort is the opposite. It's sex, sex, and more sex. A series of battling duets that lead to a stylized climax that only Kyliàn could envision. The choreography calls for six men, six women, and six foils. Yes, swords. Shiny, pointy, curved swords. The metaphor is not lost. What happens after the swords come out to play is something that you have to see, and luckily for you, you can come back for seconds and thirds, as they will perform it during their Masterworks series April 17-19 at the Dallas City Performance Hall and again at their Artistic Director's Choice show May 29-31 at Bass Performance Hall.

The entire season's listing is below:

The Sleeping Beauty* October 17-19, Bass Performance Hall

The Nutcracker Nov 28-Dec 7 Winspear; December 12-27 Bass Performance Hall

Nutty Nutcracker December 19, Bass Performance Hall

The Merry Widow* February 6-8, Bass Performance Hall

Masterworks: "Rubies," Petite Mort, and Five Poems April 17-19, City Performance Hall

Artistic Director's Choice: "Rubies," Petite Mort, and a world premiere commission choreographed by London native Jonathan Watkins. May 29-31 at Bass Performance Hall

*Live music from the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra at selected performances.

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Danielle Georgiou