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National Ballet’s 2014-15 season will highlight the contemporary

Guillaume Côté in The National Ballet’s Nijinsky.

Bruce Zinger/The National Ballet of Canada

The National Ballet of Canada's 2014-15 season contains a world premiere, a Canadian premiere and works that are predominantly contemporary ballet. The one traditional classic is Rudolf Nureyev's The Sleeping Beauty (June 10-14, 2015). There is also a heavy preponderance on full-length ballets rather than mixed programs. Says Karen Kain, artistic director of the Toronto company: "The season is a combination of works that should intrigue the audience and challenge the dancers."

The world premiere, Being and Nothingness (May 30-June 7), set to music by Philip Glass, is by principal dancer Guillaume Côté. Part 1 premiered at the Innovation program this past November. The complete work, a reflection upon human identity, will contain four sections. "Guillaume is someone I'm developing," says Kain. "He is a talented and exciting choreographer who definitely has his own voice and language."

Côté's piece is on the same program as the Canadian premiere of The Tempest, based on Shakespeare's play. A co-production with American Ballet Theatre, the work has choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, who created the highly acclaimed Romeo and Juliet for the company in 2011. The design is by Santo Loquasto, known for his opulent sets and costumes for James Kudelka.

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Speaking of Kudelka, Kain is bringing back his gorgeous and haunting …black night's bright day…, the choreographer's stunning meditation on death and mourning that debuted at Innovation 2013. Kudelka is twinned with Wayne McGregor's huge hit Chroma (March 4-8).

A big surprise is the return of Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon (Nov. 8-16) after an absence of 16 years. This 1974 masterpiece is based on Manon Lescaut, the 1731 novel by Abbé Prévost that inspired the operas of both Massenet and Puccini. "There are a lot of meaty roles," says Kain, "so the company was very excited to hear about Manon. I was so grateful that I got a chance to perform in the ballet, and I'm delighted to give a new generation of dancers a chance to experience MacMillan's storytelling."

The rest of the season is made up of contemporary ballets that have been great box office for the company and include John Neumeier's Nijinsky (Nov. 22-30), Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (March 14-29) and, of course, the perennial Christmas favourite, Kudelka's The Nutcracker (Dec. 13-Jan. 3).

The 11th International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize will be held on March 24, and the annual gala on June 17.

Kain is excited that the company is taking Ratmansky's Romeo and Juliet to Los Angeles (July 10-13, 2014). "International touring gives us a presence on the world stage," she says. The company is also performing Wheeldon's Alice in Ottawa (April 9-12, 2015).

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