Leading dance companies take Athens with a storm of movement

Dance takes center stage in Athens this week, with appearances by two leading companies, namely Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal and the English National Ballet. Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal make a sole appearance at the Lycabettus Theater tonight with a program titled «Light-Time-Open Space» that includes the company’s recent choreographies. The troupe is well known for a dance style that is both pioneering and classical, in which lithe bodies strike a balance between classical ballet’s refined movements and contemporary dance’s potentially dangerous swirls. Under the artistic direction of Louis Robitaille, the Canadian company is developing fresh energy and personality. Rich history Established by Genevieve Salbaing, Eva Von Gencsy and Eddy Toussaint in the early 1970s, the troupe has enthralled various generations of dance aficionados. Under Robitaille, who wishes to meet audiences’ desire for new standards, the company’s new repertoire is based on neoclassical dance, further enriched by contemporary trends. The aim is to reveal the body, to honor the splendor of its movements, its power and sensuality. At the Lycabettus Theater tonight, the evening begins with «Short Works: 24.» Choreographed by Crystal Pite, a permanent choreographer for Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal (whose credits also include a five-year-old collaboration with William Forsythe in Frankfurt), this consists of 24 one-minute pieces, with each piece revealing an entirely different world. Following that, Trey McIntyre’s «Blue June» celebrates the company’s 30th anniversary, while Mia Michaels’s «No Strings Attached» mixes postmodern jazz, pop and funk. Finally, Jason Shipley-Holmes’s «Clin d’Oeil» is a defining work for the company, featuring sensational choreography accompanied by percussion. National Ballet As part of the Athens Festival, the English National Ballet comes to Athens for four performances (tomorrow, Thursaday, Saturday and Sunday) at the Herod Atticus Theater. Originally founded as the Festival Ballet by Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin and Julian Braunsweg in 1950, the company has a rich history in both touring and works – with choreographies ranging from Balanchine to Bigonzetti. In Athens, the English National Ballet’s first two evenings will be dedicated to Leo Delibes’s «Coppelia,» choreographed by Ronald Hynd. A comic ballet based on a love story, the work was first performed in 1870 at the Paris Opera and belongs to that small and special circle of 19th century ballets which have survived up to now. On Saturday and Sunday, the troupe will present «Triple Bill,» a kind of dance performance which was developed mainly in the early 20th century, featuring three separate ballets choreographed by one or more choreographers. At the Herod Atticus Theater, the English National Ballet will present Christopher Hampson’s «Double Concerto,» based on Francois Poulenc’s two-piano score; Mark Morris’s choreography of Virgil Thomson’s piano studies, «Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes,» and finally Igor Stravinsky’s «The Rite of Spring,» choreographed by Sir Kenneth MacMillan. During the company’s four Athenian performances, the English National Ballet Orchestra will be conducted by Anthony Twiner. Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal at the Lycabettus Theater tonight. For tickets, apply to Lycabettus Theater, tel 210.722.7209/7233; Athens Festival Box Office, 39 Panepistimiou, 210.322.1459 and Ticket Hellas, tel 210.618.9300. The English National Ballet at the Herod Atticus Theater tomorrow, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets at the Athens Festival Box Office, 39 Panepistimiou, tel 210.322.1459, Herod Atticus Theater, Acropolis, tel 210.323.2771. For credit card bookings, call 210.322.1459.

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