For company members at the Texas Ballet Theater, dance is engrained into life. “When you’ve bend down in a grocery store, you’re in a plié,” executive director Vanessa Logan says. When you stand on your tippy toes, reaching for that top-shelf cereal box, “you’re in relevé.”
Dance is everywhere, she says, but nothing beats seeing the athleticism, beauty, and entertainment of it on stage.
On Tuesday, the Texas Ballet Theater announced its 2023–2024 season lineup during a party at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The 32-dancer company will perform eight runs of four shows between its Dallas and Fort Worth residences. The season is full, Logan says. And it marks a significant change for the North Texas company.
Last summer legendary choreographer Ben Stevenson, whose career has spanned eight decades, stepped down as Texas Ballet Theater’s artistic director after 20 years in the position. Stevenson remains with the company as “artistic director laureate,” but the day-to-day duties have been taken over by Timothy O’Keefe, who has worked with Stevenson since the 1980s.
The upcoming season is O’Keefe’s first to curate, says Logan, but picking the ballets is “actually much more complex than one might think.” The whole process can take up to two years to plan, and the next year’s season is often planned out before the current year’s begins. The theater balances O’Keefe’s artistic vision with the technical challenge for the dancers, what the community wants, and the finances of it all when deciding on which ballets they’ll perform, Logan says.
There is something for everyone in the 2023–24 lineup, though. “If you want an exciting, thrilling night, you come to Dracula,” Logan says, “and at the same time, if you want to have a family weekend, but also see some beautiful dancing, Beauty and the Beast.”
We chatted with Logan about each ballet in the upcoming season and what theatergoers should expect.
Sept. 15–17. AT&T Performing Arts Center Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St., Dallas; Oct. 6–8. Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth
The season opens with Dracula, which Logan says has been long requested by the community. For O’Keefe, though, the ballet is personal. In 1997, when O’Keefe and outgoing artistic director Ben Stevenson were both at the Houston Ballet, Stevenson created the role of Dracula specifically for him. “There’s something really beautiful about that full circle,” Logan says.
Besides the sentimentality of O’Keefe’s pick, Dracula is gorgeous and thrilling, Logan says, right in time for Halloween. “It’s an extraordinary ballet technically, but also from an entertainment perspective.” And, she adds, “Dracula flies.”
Nov. 24–Dec. 3. Winspear Opera House; Dec. 8–24. Bass Performance Hall
Logan says she and the other front-of-house staff never tire of watching families come to see The Nutcracker. “It’s the true classical story that everybody just loves.” Besides, Stevenson “does such a brilliant job of creating little vignettes” within the choreography and the scenes, like the party scene, that there’s always “something new and jovial.”
For the dancers, it’s an opportunity to flex their abilities, Logan says. Because The Nutcracker runs for five weeks between the two venues, it gives many dancers solo opportunities they might not get in other ballets. “It’s the chance for them to really hone different skill sets as solo artists.”
Feb. 23–25, 2024. Bass Performance Hall; March 1–3, 2024. AT&T Performing Arts Center Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St., Dallas
The company’s mixed reparatory performance of Brilliants is “a perfect introduction” to ballet, Logan says, and it encapsulates their mission. “It is classical, neoclassical, and contemporary ballet in one evening.”
The program will feature four shorter ballets in one performance: Grand Pas Classique and Le Corsaire Pas de Deux are both classic ballets and “coveted pieces to be done by our dancers.” Rubies is “fun and neoclassical and just a joy.” The movement is part of Jewels, which was choreographed by George Balanchine, who’s known as “the father of American ballet.” Finally, Without Borders, which was choreographed by Val Caniparoli, is the program’s contemporary ballet.
“To me,” says Logan, “it’s a perfect evening.”
Beauty and the Beast
May 3–5, 2024. Winspear Opera House; May 17–19, 2024. Bass Performance Hall
Beauty and the Beast is “steeped in tradition” and the origins of American ballet, Logan says. Choreographer Lew Christensen first staged the show to Tchaikovsky’s in 1958. Christensen was Balanchine’s first male lead dancer at the American Ballet during the 1930s. He was an early pioneer in the American ballet realm and a reputed choreographer, along with his brothers, who also were dancers.
Besides its legacy, Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful, family-friendly story ballet, Logan says. When Texas Ballet Theater last performed the show seven years ago, “the audience was filled with women and young girls in yellow dresses.”
Learn more about each show and get tickets here.