Variations Sérieuses

Music: Based on the music of Felix Mendelssohn (Op. 54, 1841), adapted and orchestrated by Mack Schlefer
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Staging: Ben Huys
Scenic and Costume Design: Ian Falconer
Lighting Design: Mark Stanley
Duration: 25 minutes
Premiere: May 10, 2001; New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: April 17, 2008 (Laugh Out Loud! Festival)

The 2008 Seattle premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Variations Sérieuses was generously underwritten by Peter & Peggy Horvitz.

Louise Nadeau and Seth Orza in Variations Sérieuses.
Photo © Angela Sterling

"A Premier Danseur discovers a talented Young Girl rehearsing a new ballet. A haughty Ballerina fights with everyone: other dancers, the ballet master, the pianist, the conductor. Then, after some temper tantrums, she injures herself by accidentally plunging into the orchestra pit during a rehearsal. The Young Girl triumphantly replaces her." (Jack Anderson, The Dancing Times).

Christopher Wheeldon is considered one of the leading ballet choreographers in the world today. He was born in Somerset, England, and trained at The Royal Ballet School until 1991, when he became a company member and also won the Gold Medal at the Prix de Lausanne competition. Mr. Wheeldon danced with New York City Ballet from 1993 to 2000 and has since focused completely on choreography. He became New York City Ballet's first artist-in-residence in 2000, during which time he created Polyphonia and Variations Sérieuses, and, since 2001, has been the company's resident choreographer. In 2007, Mr. Wheeldon founded his own dance troupe: Morphoses, the Wheeldon Company.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847) was a German composer of the Romantic era. Like Mozart, he was a child prodigy who excelled in every aspect of music. He was one of the finest pianists of his time, as well as an excellent conductor and well-known educator. His Variations Sérieuses is one of the great masterpieces of Romantic piano music.

Notes by Doug Fullington.

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