Nevada Ballet Theatre is on pointe for the upcoming season.

Written by Temple Kinyon

Beth Barbre is passionate about keeping culture alive for people of all ages. “Culture defines us,” said the executive director and CEO of Nevada Ballet Theatre. “The earlier you’re exposed to arts and culture, the more likely it will be a part your life forever. It’s important to NBT to provide opportunities for kids to help them gravitate toward whatever creative outlet they want, whether it’s painting, music, or dance.”

NBT’s 2015-2016 season truly encompasses that mission with its brilliant performance selections. “We programmed carefully to appeal to a wide array of patrons, families, kids, and dance enthusiasts, to showcase the company’s strength and artistry. It’s a return to the classics, but shows ballet’s grace, diversity, and accessibility. There’s something for everyone.”

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The NBT is keeping George Balanchine’s choreography alive with a trio of performances that includes Serenade. Photo by ©Virginia Trudeau.

In December, NBT will perform The Nutcracker, the holiday favorite choreographed specifically for Reynold’s Hall at The Smith Center by Artistic Director James Canfield. “It’s larger than life,” Barbre said. “It fills every inch of the stage and features a full orchestra.” NBT will also perform two other classic family favorites this season, Cinderella (in February) and Romeo & Juliet (in May).

“In ballet, what’s old is new again,” Barbre expressed. “NBT is excited to present classics and keep with tradition.”  However, along with that tradition NBT features an eclectic mix of additional performances this season, showcasing the company’s versatility.

“Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world, and what we do better than anyone is unique theatrics such as Cirque du Soleil,” Barbre said. “Our city is lucky to have a large creative class made up of local artists, dancers, and musicians.”

NBT’s and Cirque du Soleil’s bold collaboration, A Choreographers’ Showcase, is the opening performance for this season in October and will be performed at the Mystére Theatre at Treasure Island. Eight years ago, NBT started their partnership with Cirque. Artists from both companies choreograph and produce a dynamic performance of ballet, contemporary dance, and acrobatics. “It’s a chance for all the artists to work outside of their norm,” Barbre said. “NBT wants to keep pushing boundaries by continuing to collaborate with Cirque.”

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The artists from Mystére and NBT collaborate on a performance that combines ballet, contemporary dance, and acrobatics. Photo by ©Virginia Trudeau.

Also targeting this season’s goal for a traditional and contemporary mix is A Balanchine Celebration: Serenade, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, and Who Cares?  “The range of these is quite remarkable,” Barbre said. “Serenade, the first work George Balanchine choreographed in America, is timeless and very traditional. Slaughter is a show within a show and combines ballet and Broadway, and Who Cares? is a big, happy, crowd-pleasing piece set to Gershwin. The Balanchine choreography is being passed down from dancers, generation to generation, using memory to keep this art form alive,” Barbre explained. Sandra Jennings and Philip Neal, both former NYC Ballet dancers, will teach NBT artists the exact steps for each of these productions.

The trio of performances choreographed by Balanchine, one of the 20th century’s greatest artists, is close to Barbre’s heart. She served five years as administrator of The George Balanchine Trust in New York City, licensing his works. “He choreographed over 400 ballets. The wide range of his work is still relevant and fresh, even today.”

And if all that isn’t enough, a unique performance for subscribers only will be presented in March and April. The Studio Series takes patrons behind the scenes to NBT’s Summerlin studio to see how ballet is created. This intimate setting offers participants a Q&A session with James Canfield and an opportunity to see dancers perform to their own in-company choreography. “Patrons can really see the athleticism and how hard the dancers work,” Barbre shared. “They are left appreciating how difficult it is and how the dancers make it look effortless and beautiful.”

For tickets and performance information, visit nevadaballet.org.