Pennsylvania Ballet at 50
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Watch Friday, May 2, 2014 at 9pm on WMHT TV.

PENNSYLVANIA BALLET AT 50 showcases one of Philadelphia’s cultural treasures, Pennsylvania Ballet, and honors the company’s golden anniversary.

A one-hour show featuring the company’s 50th anniversary celebration performance from October 2013 at Philadelphia’s historic Academy of Music. The program highlights spectacular performances alongside exclusive interviews with Barbara Weisberger, Pennsylvania Ballet founder, and Roy Kaiser, artistic director of the company. Multi-Emmy Award-winning director of dance documentaries, Matthew Diamond, directs the production. Diamond has also directed commercial series such as “Desperate Housewives” and “So You Think You Can Dance.

A ballet of bold movements and heartfelt emotion, Part I of Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain opens the program. Choreographed to music by Arvo Pärt, After the Rain features three couples performing a series of intricate lifts and turns that often mirror one another. Under the Sun Pas de Deux by Margo Sappington originally premiered in Philadelphia and is a fairytale fantasy ballet inspired by American sculptor Alexander Calder’s mobiles, miniature circus, mechanized sculpture and sense of humor. The full ballet follows the adventures of Corolla, the Sun Child, and her hypnotic attraction to the Fantasy Family of the beautiful Etincelle, Queen of the Mobiles. The third featured ballet is “Diamonds” from Jewels by George Balanchine. “Diamonds” is the third section of a three-act ballet that uses music from three composers and recalls the order and grandeur of Imperial Russia and the Maryinsky Theater, where Balanchine was trained. The ballet is choreographed to Tschaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 in D major, Op. 29.

“With each ballet, viewers will be provided with a guide of what to look for during the performance,” said Trudi Brown, WHYY executive producer. “Since the production was originally created as a thank you gift to the city of Philadelphia in celebration of the company’s 50th anniversary, it was an exciting challenge to position the performance as entertaining and informative for public television audiences nationwide.”

“Some of the most important and influential ballet dancers in the country were Philadelphians,” said Barbara Weisberger, Pennsylvania Ballet founder. “This program reveals the heart of Pennsylvania Ballet while illuminating its beautiful heritage.”

Pennsylvania Ballet is one of the premier ballet companies in the United States and has been at the forefront of American dance since 1963. The company has earned a national reputation for its impassioned artistry and technical virtuosity and has received widespread critical acclaim for its performances of a diverse classical and contemporary repertoire with a Balanchine base. Captured in this production, the energy and exuberance of its versatile dancers are the company’s enduring signature.

“My first love is dance; one of the first professional companies I ever appeared with was the Pennsylvania Ballet,” said director Mathew Diamond. “I'm very dedicated to making extraordinary ballet and dance accessible around the country.”