Virginia National Ballet Announces World Premiere and New Facility

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Provided by Virginia National Ballet

Virginia National Ballet is breaking ground in two ways this season!

First, the company, which has established itself in the region by consistently presenting exciting world premieres each season and offering not only classical ballet but also neo-classical and contemporary works to a wide range of music including classical, opera, contemporary, and hard rock, is continuing this tradition with the World Premiere of the Ballet Aida on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at the Hylton Performing Arts Center at 2:00 p. m. and 7:30 p. m.

And second, after spending five years in the Gainesville location, Virginia National Ballet is breaking ground this spring and relocating into a brand new, 5400 square foot facility!

Aida is based on the famous opera by Giuseppe Verdi, and uses the orchestral score from the opera with the addition of orchestration for the vocal lines.  This is the  first time that any ballet company in the world has created a full-length ballet of Aida.  The opera Aida is a classic staple of every major opera company with its gorgeous music and heart-wrenching story.  Elton John created a Broadway Musical of Aida, in a rock-music style, based on a children’s story adaption. The Virginia National Ballet version is closer to the Verdi opera, using the original story and music, without voices.  The opera is four acts and 2.5 hours.  The Virginia National Ballet production will be condensed to two acts and 1.5 hours.

The story is an epic tale of the struggle between choosing love or country.  Aida is a slave in ancient Egypt, serving Amneris, the daughter of the King of Egypt, who is unaware that Aida is actually the Princess of Ethiopia, with whom they are at war.  The Egyptian warrior Radames and Aida have secretly fallen in love.  Amneris is also in love with Radames, but he does not return her feelings.  She discovers their secret.  Rather than renouncing each other’s love, separating forever and pledging loyalty to their countries, Radames and Aida choose to die together in the Egyptian tomb.

Artistic Director and Choreographer Rafik Hegab is originally from Egypt, where he was a Principal Dancer with the Cairo Opera Ballet Company.  He performed in the opera Aida many times (the opera contains a short ballet section.)  This was his inspiration to create a full-length ballet of Aida.  He will be incorporating authentic pharaonic style into the classical ballet choreography, and will also oversee the creation of authentic Egyptian sets and costumes for a spectacular event.  Patrons will be able to purchase Egyptian merchandise during the intermission.

Virginia National Ballet’s popular company of twelve international dancers and a select group of students will grace the stage at the Hylton on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2:00 p. m. and 7:00 p. m.  The title role of Aida will be danced by Principal Dancer Saaya Pikula, with Emanuel Tavares dancing her love interest, Radames.  Pikula and Tavares have previously partnered together magically in Virginia National Ballet productions of La Boheme (another opera-ballet created by Hegab), Snow White, and The Nutcracker.  They are both in demand as guest artists along the East Coast.  Esmae Gold will portray Amneris, Leandro de Almeida will dance the Egyptian King, and Luiz Gustavo Madubuike will be dancing Amonasro, Aida’s father and King of Ethiopia.  The rest of the company will also be showcased throughout the ballet:  Savanna Alfanos, Annemieke Bruce, Michelle DeAngelis, Emily Hashiguchi, Emily Jarrett, Sarah Ruesch, and Madeline Sosna.

Managing Director Elysabeth Muscat Hegab is excited to announce that Virginia National Ballet is expanding and relocating this spring!  After spending five years in the current Gainesville location, the school and company will have a new home only 3.5 miles away, off Wellington Road where Bristow meets Manassas.  The former location had 4700 square feet and two studios.  The new location will have 5400 square feet with three large studios, all brightly lit with high ceilings.  Studios will have observation windows as well as closed-circuit cameras connected to monitors in the large waiting room.  There will still be a dedicated music studio for voice and piano lessons, offices, dressing rooms, and storage space.  Having the third studio provides many options for additional classes and convenient scheduling, and allows for continued growth of the school and company.

The 2017-18 Five Year Anniversary Season at the Hylton Performing Arts Center began with The Nutcracker in November 2017, and is followed by the World Premiere of Aida in February 2018.  In the spring, we are reviving Carmina Burana, the company’s wildly successful debut production from 2014, along with a brand-new version of Ravel’s famous masterpiece, Bolero.  The fantastic music of Carmina Burana and Bolero, along with breathtaking choreography and beautiful dancers, is an event not to be missed!  Virginia National Ballet will also be touring with this production to Wise, VA, as part of the Pro Art Series in April 2018.  The season finishes with a combined presentation with Virginia National Ballet’s official school in June 2018.

Gainesville Ballet, the official school of Virginia National Ballet, was voted BEST DANCE STUDIO 2017 in Northern Virginia, in Northern Virginia Magazine!  Virginia National Ballet was a finalist again in 2017 for Outstanding Arts Organization by the Seefeldt Awards, and Artistic Director Rafik Hegab was a finalist for Outstanding Individual Artist.  He received great reviews on, DC Metro Theatre Arts, Inside NOVA, and the Bull Run Observer for his choreography, not only for Virginia National Ballet, but also as a guest choreographer for Young Artists of America’s production of The Circle of Life:  The Music of Time Rice, which was televised on PBS.  VNB dancers also received wonderful reviews for their dancing and acting.

Tickets to AIDA can be purchased at the Hylton Box Office or online at (search “Virginia National Ballet”.)  For more information about the company or about Gainesville Ballet School, please visit or call 703-753-5005.






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