A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Ballet presents an all-Balanchine program, “See the Music, Hear the Dance,” in venues in and around LA between Feb. 20 and March 6. The program includes the LAB premieres of Kammermusik No. 2 and Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, as well as the return of “Serenade.”

Balanchine choreographed Kammermusik No. 2 to Hindemith’s Op. 36, No. 1 for piano and 12 solo instruments. Two principal couples dance the piano solos, while eight men dance to the chamber ensemble. The work premiered at New York City Ballet in 1978, starring LAB Co-Artistic Director Colleen Neary in one of the four leading roles. Soloists in this LAB premiere are Melissa Barak, Grace McLoughlin, Andrew Brader and Drew Grant.

The Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 2, originally titled “Ballet Imperial,” exhibits Balanchine’s early Russian training, as it pays homage to Petipa, the father of classical ballet, with whom Tchaikovsky created “Swan Lake,” “Nutcracker” and “Sleeping Beauty.” LAB newcomers Monica Pelfrey and Zheng Hua Li are the principal cast.

Balanchine had a special affinity for Tchaikovsky. “In everything that I did to Tchaikovsky’s music,” he said, “I sensed his help. It wasn’t real conversation. But when I was working and saw that something was coming of it, I felt that it was Tchaikovsky who had helped me.”

An LAB encore, “Serenade,” to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C, was the first original ballet Balanchine created after coming to America. Having conceived it as a lesson in stage technique, Balanchine worked unexpected rehearsal events – such as a fall by one student and the late arrival of another – into the choreography. After its initial presentation in 1934, “Serenade” was reworked several times. In its present form there are four movements: “Sonatina,” “Waltz,” “Russian Dance,” and “Elegy.”

Performances are Saturday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. at the Freud Playhouse, MacGowan Hall, UCLA; Saturday, Feb. 27, at 7:30 p.m. at the Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; and Saturday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach.

For more information, visit www.losangelesballet.org, or call (310) 998-7782.