The pandemic has disoriented the New York City Ballet, disrupted the careers of many rising stars and resulted in a loss of millions in ticket revenue.
Next season, the company hopes to restore a sense of normalcy by presenting an ambitious mix of new and old works, it announced Friday, including many ballets intended to educate a younger generation of dancers.
“This is a vitamin shot of what we’re known for,” Wendy Whelan, City Ballet’s artistic director, who helped plan the new season, said in an interview.
The 2022-23 season, featuring 48 ballets from September to May, will feature new work by choreographers Christopher Wheeldon, Keerati Jinakunwiphat and Alysa Pires, among others. The fall fashion gala will feature premieres by choreographers Kyle Abraham and Gianna Reisen, recent graduates of the School of American Ballet.
In January, the company presents a full exploration of Aaron Copland’s music, by Justin Peck, the resident choreographer and artistic consultant, with visual designs by the painter Jeffrey Gibson.
A major focus will be on showcasing large-scale, foundational classics — what Whelan called “very large and very team-oriented ballets” — as part of an effort to train City Ballet’s younger dancers after a string of high-profile retirements.
The lineup includes George Balanchine’s “Vienna Waltzes” and “Raymonda Variations” in the fall; The “West Side Story Suite” by Jerome Robbins and the staging of “The Sleeping Beauty” by Peter Martins in the winter season.
“We have a lot of young talent and a lot of flowers are blooming,” says Whelan. “We have a lot of people that we want to continue to feed at a high level.”
The season will also feature several works by choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, the former artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet who is now artist in residence at the American Ballet Theatre, including his ‘Concerto DSCH’ and ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’.
Due to the pandemic, City Ballet’s entire 2020-21 season has been canceled. After returning to the stage in the fall, Whelan said some dancers expressed an interest in increased exposure to the rigorous training of classics.
“Some said, ‘We just want to do ballet. We haven’t done ballet in two years,” she said. “They said, ‘We want to get razor sharp and at this level.’ †
The upcoming season will “make everyone a better dancer,” she added.
The coronavirus is still looming in the performing arts. City Ballet estimates it has lost $55 million in projected ticket sales since the start of the pandemic.
While many cultural institutions have continued with full seasons this year, the Omicron variety still presents a challenge. The wave of business forced City Ballet to cancel 26 shows in December and January, including performances of “The Nutcracker,” typically the most lucrative show of the year.
Public behavior is also changing. At City Ballet, attendance is about 80 percent of the prepandemic level.
The possibility of another outbreak is “always in the back of our minds,” Whelan said.
Dancers have recently started wearing masks in studios again, she said, amid the surge in cases in New York.
“We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe,” she said.