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From Bournonville to Balanchine: An Evening of Legendary Ballets

Indiana University Ballet Theater will salute three patriarchs in the world of dance when it presents its annual Spring Ballet on March 24 and 25 at the Musical Arts Center. "From Bournonville to Balanchine: An Evening of Legendary Ballets" will feature ballets choreographed by Marius Petipa (1819-1910), the father of classical ballet who elevated Russian ballet to international fame; contemporary choreographer and American ballet founder George Balanchine (1904-1983); and August Bournonville (1805-1879), who led the Royal Danish Ballet during the height of the Danish Golden Age. Music for the concert will be performed by the IU University Orchestra, conducted by Ronald Zollman.

IU dancers will perform Bournonville's Napoli, one of the only surviving full-length Bournonville ballets, the melodramatic Paquita by Petipa and Balanchine's Who Cares?, which celebrates American exuberance and the New York City nightlife through dancing set to the music of legendary songwriter George Gershwin. Both the Friday and Saturday performances will be held at 8 p.m.

IU visiting faculty members Glenda Lucena and Guoping Wang will stage Paquita and Napoli, respectively. Who Cares? will be staged by guest Elyse Borne, who has danced in and staged ballets nationally and worldwide.

Here is more information about each of the ballets. Additional information, including how to purchase tickets and directions, can be found at


  • Music by Ludwig Minkus; arranged by John Lanchbery
  • Choreography by Marius Petipa
  • Staged by Glenda Lucena

Paquita, an example of virtuosic classical ballet, received its premiere in 1846 at the Paris Opera of the rue Le Peletier. With music by Edouard-Marie-Ernest Delvedez and choreography by Joseph Mazilier, the two-act ballet was danced by Carlotta Grisi and Lucien Petipa, in the leading roles. The melodramatic plot is set in Spain when it was occupied by Napoleon's army. The heroin of the ballet is Paquita, who was born of noble birth but was stolen by gypsies as a baby and was raised by them. Paquita saves the life of a young French officer, Lucien d'Hervilly, and the two fall in love. Through the findings of a medallion that reveals her true identity, she learns she is in fact the cousin of Lucien and able to marry him.

Who Cares?

  • Music by George Gershwin; arranged by Hershey Kay
  • Choreography by George Balanchine
  • Staged by Guest, Elyse Borne

In 1937, legendary songwriter George Gershwin asked renowned choreographer George Balanchine to come to Hollywood to work with him on the score of the Goldwyn Follies. While working on the music Gershwin collapsed and died of a brain tumor. He was only 38.

Thirty-three years later, Balanchine, one of the founders of American ballet, would choreograph the ballet Who Cares? to 16 songs Gershwin composed between 1924 and 1931, including such American pop standards as I Got Rhythm, The Man I Love, Embraceable You and My One and Only. Balanchine used the songs not to evoke any particular era but as a way to portray the exuberance of America and salute the Manhattan night life that so many of Gershwin's songs capture. The energy of the city is imprinted on every step with its spirited technical brilliance.


  • Music by Edvard Helsted, Holger Simon Paulli, Hans Christian Lumbye
  • Choreography by August Bournonville
  • Staged by Guoping Wang

August Bournonville's Napoli, one of the only surviving full-length Bournonville ballets, premiered in its entirety in 1842. Typical of mid-19th century ballets, it had a powerful story with fantastic elements, unique characters and much color, all of which led to its immediate success.

Napoli is the story of the young Neapolitan fisherman, Gennaro, and his sweetheart, Teresina. Engaged and in love, the two embark on an afternoon boat ride. When a storm swells, Teresina is swept overboard. Unable to save her, Gennaro returns to his town. Teresina, though, is then rescued by two naiads and carried to the Blue Grotto, home of Golfo, a sea demon. Golfo returns Teresina to life only to bewitch and change her into a naiad. Gennaro goes in search of his beloved, and when he finds her, he coaxes her back to human form. The power of the true faith and love conquers the pagan god, and the two sweethearts row off and return home to a town wide celebration. The festivities include a suite of classical dances crowned by a tarantella -- a circular dance that is one of the most recognized Italian dances.

Napoli is rarely performed in America. The IU Ballet Theater will perform Act III, the liveliest and most technically challenging act. The lively act contains the pas de six and tarantella that epitomize Bournonville's light, happy and exhilarating style.

For additional information on IU Ballet Theater's Spring Ballet, visit