Virginia National Ballet presents Two World Premieres

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Provided by Virginia National Ballet

Virginia National Ballet’s visionary Artistic Director presents two thrilling world premiere ballets on February 11th at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas: Bohemian Rhapsody, a hard-rocking contemporary ballet to the classic music of Queen, and La Bohéme, a gorgeous, heart wrenching ballet based on the famous opera about star crossed lovers by Giacomo Puccini, accompanied live by the Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra.

Virginia National Ballet (formerly named Gainesville Ballet) is only three years young, yet is quickly establishing its reputation as an important, growing dance company in the Mid-Atlantic Region that presents new, exciting repertoire with talented, award winning international dancers from around the globe. The company is honored to have been chosen by the Virginia Commission for the Arts to be part of the Touring Directory for 2017-18. Presenters who wish to engage Virginia National Ballet to perform at their venues can receive a grant from the Commission to help cover the cost. This program encourages artistic collaborations throughout the State of Virginia.

With its outstanding, creative Artistic Director Rafik Hegab, the fresh company continues to lead the region with unique repertoire never seen before. Hegab debuted his choreographic skills with Carmina Burana in March 2014 which received standing ovations and rave reviews from audience members, and followed up with the ballets Carmen (based on the opera) and Collection in 2015. Carmina Burana was a contemporary ballet with a cast of 25 dancers; Carmen was a neoclassical ballet in a totally original version which included one scene taken from the Bizet opera with live singing, also with cast of 25, and Collection was a group of short dances infusing various styles of music and dance.

Mr. Hegab’s original new version of La Bohéme for Virginia National Ballet marks only the 2nd time that the ballet La Bohéme will have been performed in the world. La Bohéme – the ballet was originally created for the West Australian Ballet in 2004. The music for the ballet is an adaptation of the score from Puccini’s popular opera, with some unique twists and orchestrations, adapted by the composer Kevin Hocking. In 2004, Hocking completed a commission by the West Australian Ballet to transform Puccini’s opera, La Bohéme into an orchestral ballet. He was awarded an ‘Order of Australia Medal’ in 2006 for his services to music as a composer, arranger, conductor and pianist. Milwaukee Ballet presented a version of La Bohéme in 2012, but they used the Puccini opera orchestration, and did not use Hocking’s original score especially made for ballet. The story of La Bohéme revolves around two main characters: Mimi and Rodolfo, and their friends. The young bohemian characters are happy starving artists in Paris in the 1800s. Mimi and Rodolfo meet by chance and quickly fall in love, only to discover soon after, that Mimi is suffering from tuberculosis and doesn’t have long to live.

Tying the “Bohemian” theme together is the hard rock ballet, Bohemian Rhapsody. Hegab has chosen some of the most famous Queen songs along with some “deep tracks” which audiences will love. Virginia National Ballet’s Managing Director, Elysabeth Muscat Hegab, is thrilled to be presenting this repertoire, as she is both a professional opera singer who has performed the role of Musetta in La Bohéme, and is also a huge fan of classic rock. She has wanted to produce a hard rock ballet for many years and is excited to see this project come to fruition.

The Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra will not only be playing the music of La Bohéme, but will also treat audiences to the rousing overture of La Forza del Destino (The Force of Destiny) by Giuseppe Verdi. This event marks the first collaboration between Virginia National Ballet and the Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra. The orchestra’s Conductor and Music Director, David Kirven, recently won the 2016 Seefeldt Award for Outstanding Artist in Prince William County.

Supporting the professional company onstage are the Junior Company dancers, a select group of pre-professionals from Gainesville Ballet School. These outstanding young dancers train five days a week in ballet, modern, jazz, pas de deux and variations, and rehearse twice weekly with the professional company. Additionally, they have the invaluable experience of performing onstage at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in both School and Company performances. The Junior Company get to perform solo roles in The Nutcracker and are featured in the School’s Spring Recital, and they dance corps de ballet parts in the professional company productions. Members of the 2016-17 junior company include Chloe Banachoski (11th grader at Brentsville District High School), Isabella Reilly (11th grader at Battlefield High School), Maddie Penn (12th grader at Patriot High School), and Zeli Frantz (11th grader at Patriot High School.)

Celebrate Valentine’s Day (a few days early!) by seeing two world premieres by Virginia National Ballet, accompanied by the Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra, at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Enjoy gorgeous dancers, great music, and completely original choreography. The performances are on Saturday, February 11th, 2:00 p. m. and 7:00 p. m. Tickets range from $17 – $37 and can be purchased at the Hylton Box Office or online at hyltoncenter.org/calendar/929/ .

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