Ballet Next comes to Kaatsbaan

Michele Wiles and Drew Jacoby perform La Folia, Choreographed by Mauro Bigonzetti and photographed by Gene Schiavone

It’s thrilling when classic artforms reinvent themselves. Painting and sculpture, music and theater do this with great constancy, especially as the drive for postmodern interpretations of old standards and increasing competition for audiences and support funds have driven the cultural world in recent years. Now, ballet’s undergoing a renaissance of new energy, as will be seen with a pair of performances by the great new troupe Ballet Next at the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli.

Founded last year by renowned dancers Michele Wiles of American Ballet Theater and Charles Askegard of the New York City Ballet, the company – and its dedication to new choreography and modes for ballet – came in answer to their career zenith question, “What next?” Insisting on live musical accompaniment and a mix of works to classically recognized scores and newer pieces, Ballet Next’s premiere performances at New York City’s dance Mecca the Joyce Theater were completely sold out, as is its coming season at the Chelsea-based theater in a few weeks.

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“This venture comes from a very deep place within me,” Wiles said of the new endeavor. “Ballet Next is allowing us to operate in a very unrestricted environment where the artists can focus on process and quality of work.”

“The independent ballet company has been absent from the New York dance scene for a while,” added Askegard. “It has always been my dream to have the chance to bring elite performing artists together to take advantage of this format.”

Ballet Next program at Kaatsbaan, with performances October 13 and 14, will feature such works as Picnic, inspired by the 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock and set to Shostakovich’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor; La Folia, set to music by Vivaldi; a Stravinsky divertimento; and Entwined, a new work by Broadway legend Margo Sappington.

Ballet Next performs at Kaatsbaan on Saturday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 14 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets cost $30 for adults and $10 for children and students with ID. The Kaatsbaan International Dance Center is located at 120 Broadway, near the river in the Dutchess County village of Tivoli. For information call (845) 757-5106, extension 10, or visit www.kaatsbaan.org.