The late Newport Beach philanthropist Henry Segerstrom forged an alliance many years ago with American Ballet Theatre of New York, one of the premier dance companies in the world.
He brought ABT to Segerstrom Center for the Arts during the Center’s initial International Dance Series in 1986, and made sure the dance company returned year after year. That partnership with ABT resulted in numerous premieres and commissions over the years, including the 1988 world premiere of a new version of “Swan Lake” by famed dancer and then Artistic Director of ABT, Mikhail Baryshnikov.
A decade later, ABT’s 1999 production of “Le Corsaire” was taped in Segerstrom Hall for PBS’ renowned “Dance in America” program.
Other Segerstrom Center premieres with ABT include world premieres of both “Sleeping Beauty” in 2007, “The Firebird” in 2012, and “Whipped Cream” in 2017 — two years after Henry Segerstrom’s death.
His wife, Elizabeth Segerstrom, has carried on the personal relationship he had with American Ballet Theatre. She was one of the chairs of the ABT gala in 2017.
Now comes another ABT World Premiere: “Of Love and Rage,” in Segerstrom Hall March 5–8. The ballet is choreographed by ABT artist-in-residence Alexei Ratmansky, and is inspired by the first century Greek novel, “Callirhoe.” The libretto for “Of Love and Rage” was adapted by actor, director, screenwriter and Molière Award winner Guillaume Gallienne. The ballet is set to music by Aram Khachaturian with arrangements by Philip Feeney, and performed live by The Pacific Symphony.
Written by Chariton of Aphrodisias, “Callirhoe” is widely acknowledged to be the oldest novel ever written. It is set circa 400 BC in the ancient Greek world.
A ballet in two acts, “Of Love and Rage” is described as “a love story of Chaereas and Callirhoe as they struggle with the tragic consequences of their mistakes and, ultimately, find redemption through forgiveness,” according to press material.
“‘Of Love and Rage’ is not a fairytale,” Ratmansky said in a statement. “Although it was written thousands of years ago, with the complexity of the relationship [between Callirhoe and Chaereas] at its core and the tough choices they face, it feels very modern and relevant. Callirhoe is a strong woman in a world where women had very limited options and no power. After early experiences where her fate is determined by men, she learns that she can use her beauty and her brains to shape her fate.” Ratmansky noted that he is fascinated by the topic of forgiveness, and how forgiveness is the only way that two lovers torn apart by anger and jealousy can reunite.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “the weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Single tickets start at $29.
For more information, visit SCFTA.org or call (714) 556-2787.