Oklahoma City Ballet kicks off its new season Saturday with Director’s Choice, a series of three ballets chosen by Robert Mills, the artistic director.
“Although five years is a relatively short amount of time, we are celebrating the fifth year of our transition as an organization to Oklahoma City Ballet [from Ballet Oklahoma] and my fifth year as artistic director,” Mills said. “I wanted to commemorate, so I selected ballets that are favorites of mine and ones I knew Oklahoma audiences would enjoy.”
The program begins with Nicolo Fonte’s “Left Unsaid,” a contemporary ballet set to Bach. The second, Anthony Tudor’s “Lilac Garden,” is a classical piece set in the Edwardian era. The evening’s final work is Margo Sappington’s “Cobras in the Moonlight,” which Mills has performed himself.
“I had the best time dancing this work years ago,” he said. “It is set to four different compositions from Astor Piazzolla. The women are in high heels and the men are in tuxes. It is fast, exciting and, dare I say, sexy.”
Mills described the three dances as unified by “the basic human elements of love, unrequited love, deceit and betrayal.”
“All together, they make for a completely diverse evening of dance,” he said.
Each season, Mills takes several factors into consideration when deciding what works to showcase.
“I look to what I think audiences will find engaging, things that will complement the current roster of dancers, and things that will challenge the dancers. I also think about things our community needs to see, like historic works — ones that may not be performed often and are significant to the art form,” he said.
This season, holiday audiences will once again see Mills’ adaptation of The Nutcracker. Valentine’s Day audiences will be treated to Paris Rouge, and the standard of classical ballet, Swan Lake, will round out the lineup.
Mills said he is proud of what the troupe has achieved.
“Many people have given a lot of their time to see this company succeed,” he said. “I knew what this company could become ... and I knew, with all the other incredible things going on in Oklahoma City, that the time was right. I am proud we are able to bring beauty, art and culture to OKC and that we belong to the city. I never put a limit on what is possible for Oklahoma City Ballet.”