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James Kudelka in rehearsal in 2012 (Cylla von Tiedemann)
James Kudelka in rehearsal in 2012 (Cylla von Tiedemann)


Some things old and some things new: The best of the new National Ballet season Add to ...

The National Ballet of Canada’s 2013-2014 season will be a judicious mix of the tried and true and the new and different, according to artistic director Karen Kain, who spoke to the Globe in advance of Tuesday’s season launch.

“There’s as much risk as we can handle,” Kain said. “Too many new works, and we won’t make enough box office to pay our bills.”

The riskiest program is Innovation (Nov. 22-28), which features world premieres by three Canadian choreographers. The first Innovation concert in 2009 produced the monster hit Emergence by Crystal Pite. Kain is hoping for another windfall from Robert Binet, José Navas and former artistic director James Kudelka.

Binet, just in his 20s, was already a wunderkind choreographer when he was at Canada’s National Ballet School. He is currently the choreographic apprentice at London’s Royal Ballet. Navas is a wildly popular Montreal dancesmith with a worldwide reputation. Innovation will mark Kudelka’s first new work for the company since 2005.

The new season is a big year for the works of Kudelka. Both his controversial Swan Lake (Nov. 9-17 and Mar. 8-16) and his brilliant Cinderella (June 4-15) are getting remounts. John Cranko’s much-loved Onegin (Mar. 19-23) rounds off the lucrative full-length ballet roster.

Other remounts include Canadian-born, New York-based Aszure Barton’s 2009 intriguing Watch Her, paired with Sir Frederick Ashton’s 1976 masterpiece A Month in the Country, based on Turgenev’s classic story. The company has not performed the ballet since Kain herself starred in the lead role in 1995 (Feb. 26-Mar. 7).

The third mixed program (May 28-June 1) includes the Canadian premiere of Marco Goecke’s radical rethink of the 1911 Ballets Russes Fokine classic Le Spectre de la Rose. Goecke is Stuttgart Ballet’s resident choreographer. Also on the playbill are Jerome Robbins’ lyrical Opus 19/The Dreamer and William Forsythe’s punk-influenced the second detail.

The cash cow Nutcracker is on board for festive cheer (Dec. 14-Jan. 4), while the always popular gala completes the season (June 12). Touring includes the prestigious Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Centre (with the National being the only ballet company other than New York City Ballet to perform there), and Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.

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