Celebrated U.S. ballet to tour Japan


Staff Writer

Local audiences will have the chance to see premier ballet when the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and its international cast of dancers return to Japan this month.

Critics say the ABT has come to define modern, American-style ballet on the international stage and it has even been labeled by the U.S. Congress as a living national treasure. Few ballet companies equal ABT for its combination of size, scope and outreach.

Since its inception in 1940, under the direction of Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith, the ABT has incorporated the best ballets from around the world into its repertoire, with “The Sleeping Beauty” and “Giselle” among them. While known for these classical ballet performances, the ABT has been vigorous in its efforts to produce contemporary works such as “Airs” and “Duets” with help from young choreographers and dancers from around the world.

The ABT has performed in more than 40 countries and was the first U.S. ballet company to dance in the Soviet Union in 1960. Current artistic director Kevin McKenzie, once a ABT principal dancer, maintains that his goal for the company coincides with the original aim of bringing the finest in dance to the widest possible audience.

The American Ballet Theatre will perform at Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Taito Ward, Tokyo, from July 21-29. Shows run from 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekends. Ticket prices vary, students can receive a 50 percent discount with a student ID. The group will perform at Hyogo Performing Arts Center in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, on July 30 (5:30 p.m.); and Biwako Hall in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, on July 31 (3 p.m.). For more information, call (03) 3499-8100 or visit www.abt.org.