The 15th World Ballet Festival

Published: 21 June 2018
Reporter: Naomi Cockshutt

The 14th World Ballet Festival Credit: Kiyonori Hasegawa
The 15th World Ballet Festival Credit: NBS-Japan Performing Arts Foundation

Held triennially since its inception in 1976, the metropolis has become ‘recognised as one of the ballet capitals of the world’. Its inaugural year, the late Tadatsugu Sasaki (who founded both the Tokyo Ballet in 1964 and the Japan Performing Arts Foundation in 1981), brought together a trio of prima ballerina assolutas: Margot Fonteyn from United Kingdom, Soviet-dancer Maya Plisetskaya and Alicia Alonso from Cuba - causing ‘international sensation’. 

The Tokyo Ballet will open the 15th edition of the World Ballet Festival at the Ueno Park concert hall, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan with two performances of Vladimir Vasiliev’s production of Don Quixote, starring guest artists Paris Opera Ballet étoiles Myriam Ould-Braham and Mathias Heymann (Friday 27 July) and English National Ballet Lead Principals, duo Alina Cojocaru and Cesar Corrales (Saturday 28 July 2018) in the roles of Kitri and Basilio. Two different programmes bringing together leading dancers from over fifteen countries will follow.

Programme A from Wednesday 1 August until Sunday 5 August 2018 and Programme B Wednesday 8 August to Sunday 12 August 2018 will feature works spanning three centuries: from Marius Petipa’s classics, including excerpts from The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, through to Pierre Lacotte’s millennial revival of Petipa’s Egyptian-inspired The Pharaoh's Daughter (2000).

The Festival will witness Agrippina Vaganova’s reworked Diana and Actaeon (1935), as well as celebrated 20th century ballets by John Neumeier, George Balanchine, Hans van Manen, William Forsythe, Kenneth MacMillan, John Cranko and Maurice Béjart.

From the United Kingdom, there will be Sarah Lamb, Federico Bonelli and Melissa Hamilton of the Royal Ballet, alongside English National Ballet’s Artistic Director and Lead Principal Tamara Rojo with Alina Cojocaru, Cesar Corrales and Isaac Hernández.

Also from Europe are Daniel Camargo and Marijn Rademaker of Dutch National Ballet, Polina Semionova and Iana Salenko of Staatsballett Berlin, Elisa Badenes and Friedemann Vogel of Stuttgart Ballet and Dorothée Gilbert, Aurélie Dupont, Myriam Ould-Braham, Léonore Baulac, Mathias Heymann, Germain Louvet and Mathieu Ganio of the Paris Opera Ballet, beside dancers from the Hamburg Ballet and the Béjart Ballet Lausanne.

Hailing from Russia are Leonid Sarafanov of the Mikhailovsky Theatre, Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov of the Bolshoi Ballet and Olesya Novikova of the Mariinsky Ballet. From America, Ashley Bouder of New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre’s Daniil Simkin and Roberto Bolle (also of La Scala Milan) and Alessandra Ferri (also Guest Artist with the Royal Ballet). Also dancing are Viengsay Valdés of Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Brazilian ballet dancer Marcelo Gomes and Kazakhstani dancer Maria Eichwald.

Named in honour and memory of the Festival’s founder, who died of heart failure in 2016, the 15th World Ballet Festival will culminate with a Closing “Sasaki Gala” on Wednesday 15 August 2018, presenting Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand and Woolf Works by Wayne McGregor, among a full programme.

KOSÉ Corporation, the Japanese cosmetic brand, is sponsoring the Festival and introducing “KOSÉ U-29 seats”, discounted tickets for those under 29 years of age. The 15th World Ballet Festival schedule and tickets can be found on the Japanese Performing Arts Foundation web site.

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