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Ballet West’s Adam Sklute shares favorite works this spring

Written by Tony Hobday

In celebration of his 10th anniversary as artistic director of Ballet West, Adam Sklute shares with Utah audiences some of his favorite works this April. “It’s a triple deal, and it’s something novel,” Sklute tells QSaltLake.

The Shakespeare Suite highlights Jirí Kylián’s highly athletic and profoundly emotional “Return to a Strange Land”, which deals with love and loss, set to the evocative piano music of Leoš Janácek. Next, modern dance pioneer Merce Cunningham created in 1958 his unique “Summerspace” in collaboration with composer Morton Feldman and artist Robert Rauschenberg. Ballet West becomes one of a very few companies in the world to produce this fascinating exploration into movement, music, and art. Sklute calls the third program, The Shakespeare Suite“the anchor of the show, which I just adore and why I brought it in for my 10th anniversary with Ballet West.”

“It’s by the British choreographer David Bintley, and it’s a series of vignettes based on different Shakespeare plays, and is slick and contemporary, and set to the music of jazz composer Duke Ellington,” Skulte says. He adds that it is a Utah premiere, with a live jazz band in accompaniment.

Several of Shakespeare’s notable plays highlighted in elegance, hilarity, and theatricality include Romeo & Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, and Macbeth.

“Like in The Taming of the Shrew, she appears in a dirty, torn up wedding gown and Converse high top sneakers, and it gets hilarious,” Sklute describes. “In Macbeth, Macbeth wears a kilt and has red punked-out hair that looks like a crown, and Lady Macbeth is in a ‘80s power suit.”

“Each of these short vignettes is genius, and part of the fun is that each one kind of distills the Shakespeare story in a hip way of looking at them — like Othello in dreadlocks and Richard III in an evening gown,” he continues.

Overall, the program is “quite short” but creates a full program “that moves from being stunningly beautiful to being hilariously funny and again it’s set to jazz music, not typical for a ballet,” says Sklute. “It’s like watching short-attention-span theatre!” (Laughs.)

The Shakespeare Suite runs April 11-21, dates and times vary at Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South. Tickets $29-87, artsaltlake.org.

Ballet West promises a dramatic and breathtaking season for its 55th anniversary next year. The season opens with Jewels, George Balanchine’s only plotless full-length ballet inspired by his relationship with jeweler Claude Arpels. A major Utah premiere will highlight the spring of 2019, with the staging of John Cranko’s internationally renowned telling of Alexander Pushkin’s Onegin in April. “For many years I have dreamed of bringing Onegin to Utah,” said Sklute. “I consider this one of the great ballets of the 20th century.” Swan Lake and The Nutcracker return, as well as some other incredible performances.

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Tony Hobday

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