You won’t miss them if you’re walking around downtown Norfolk in the next few days. Tall, lean and beautiful, these dancers don’t walk, they float.
Members of seven of the most prestigious dance companies from around the world are in town for a “spectacular showcase of dance and music.” The Virginia Arts Festival 20th Anniversary Season Spring for Dance Gala will have two performances at Chrysler Hall – Saturday, April 9 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 10 at 3:00 p.m.
The VAF will present something “quite remarkable,” according to Chi Cao, principal dancer from the acclaimed Birmingham Royal Ballet.
It is extremely rare for seven of the “greatest companies” in the world to perform one after the other on the same stage on the same day. Chi Cao and Nao Sakuma will be performing a pas de deux from two great ballets – the dream pas de deux from A Midsummer’s Night Dream and the “achingly beautiful” balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. Chi Cao is a world famous dancer, who starred in the film, Mao’s Last Dancer. This is his fourth appearance at the Virginia Arts Festival.
Joining the Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Spring Dance Gala will be the American Ballet Theater, the most prestigious ballet company in the United States.
Cassandra Trenary and James Whiteside will perform a classic pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty. Our own Virginia Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Birmingham Royal Ballet conductor Paul Murphy, will perform all of the great, live music for the Gala.
The Tokyo Ballet will perform for the first time in Norfolk at the Spring Dance Gala. “Rigorously trained and technically brilliant,” it will be a rare opportunity to see these four beautiful, classic dancers. They will perform a dance from Don Quixote, one of the “grandest and oldest” ballets with choreography by Marius Petipa and music by Ludwig Minkus.
There will also be modern and contemporary dance with Mark Morris Dance from Brooklyn, New York, Richard Alston Dance Company from London and Lula Washington Dance Theater, from Los Angeles. The Lula Washington Dance Theater was founded in 1980 to give inner city youth a creative outlet. They travel worldwide to perform “world class contemporary modern dance works that reflect African-American history and culture. ”
From just up the road, in Richmond, the Richmond Ballet, “the state ballet of Virginia,” will be performing After Eden with music by Lee Hoiby.
Even closer to home, 14 students from our own Governor’s School of the Arts will get a remarkable chance to dance with students from Elmhurst School for Dance, in association with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Britain’s oldest established dance school.
These students will perform under the direction of famed dancer and Artistic Director of Elmhurst, Robert Parker. Robert says, “This is really a unique opportunity, not only for the students, but all these famed dancers.” The Virginia Arts Festival 20th Anniversary Season Spring Dance Gala allows these great companies to “share each others passion, joy and love of dance.”
This weekend is only the start of a stunning season for the Virginia Arts Festival. Yo-Yo Ma, Dance Theater of Harlem, Boyz II Men with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Virginia International Tattoo and over 80 other performances all around the Tidewater are still to come. Opening Night Celebration is tonight at 5:00 p.m. on the MacArthur Center Green, and it’s free.
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to here.