May 9-10 & 16-17 at 7:30 pm
May 11 & 18 at 2:00 pm
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Choreographer Olivier Wevers teams up with critically acclaimed lighting designer Michael Mazzola to create a 21st century version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” told through the eyes of a young Nick Bottom. In the work, Young Nick, the little boy over whom the royal fairy couple quarrels, is a changeling with no lines. The ballet takes place in Young Nick’s mind as he dreams of becoming an adult and running for president. Across the arc of the ballet, Nick Bottom’s character grows and the audience watches how his experiences of being bullied, reading books, and seeking love, stimulate his imagination and come to life in a dream.
TICKET INFORMATION & DISCOUNT OFFERS Tickets are $40 adults, $35 seniors (60+), $30 children (2-12), and $20 college students in advance.
Tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream are available through:
•Ballet Box Office: Phone: (616) 454-4771 (Mon.-Fri. 9am–5pm)
•In person: 341 Ellsworth SW, Grand Rapids (Mon.-Fri. 9am–5pm)
Tickets are also available, subject to availability, 60 minutes prior to each performance at Peter Martin Wege Theatre, located at 341 Ellsworth SW.
STUDENT RUSH TICKETS
$12 rush tickets for students may be purchased in-person with valid school ID, beginning 60 minutes prior to show time at the Ballet Box Office. Tickets subject to availability.
A 20% discount is available for groups of 8 or more. For group tickets, please call (616) 454-4771, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit grballet.com.
ABOUT OLIVIER WEVERS
Originally from Brussels, Belgium, Olivier Wevers is the founder and Artistic Director of Seattle’s critically acclaimed contemporary dance company Whim W’Him. In 2012, Wevers was honored with the City of Seattle’s Mayor’s Arts Award, and in 2011, he received the Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship. In both 2011 and 2010, Wevers’ work took home the grand prize award at the Annual Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival in California and he has also been named by Dance Magazine as one of their 25 to watch.
Wevers first began exploring choreography in 2002 while still a Principal Dancer at Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB). In 2009 he founded Whim W’Him to create a “platform, centered around choreography and dance, for artists to explore their craft through innovation and collaboration.” In 2011 Whim W’Him was named the resident dance company of Intiman Theatre.
Besides developing new creations for Whim W’Him, Wevers has created works for numerous companies and festivals in Canada, Japan, and the United States, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Spectrum Dance Theater, Northwest Dance Project and Ballet X.
Wevers was chosen to participate in the 2009 National Choreographers Initiative held in Irvine California. In 2008, he was the recipient of the Artist Trust/ Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship Award, recognizing his work, Shindig, commissioned by PNB. In 2006, he was selected to participate in the prestigious New York Choreographic Institute.
Wevers danced as a Principal Dancer at Royal Winnipeg Ballet before becoming a Principal with PNB, where he danced lead roles in the major full-length classical ballets, as well as in contemporary works by some of the world’s most noted choreographers.
ABOUT MICHAEL MAZZOLA
Since the mid 1980’s, Michael Mazzola’s critically acclaimed designs have been seen in venues all over the US and Europe, ranging from opera houses to circus tents to outdoor amphitheaters. Beyond his work as resident lighting designer for Oregon Ballet Theatre, the two-time New York Dance and Performance Award-winning designer has created lighting for the Bebe Miller Company, for whom he has designed since 1986; Steve Paxton and Lisa Nelson, Yoshiko Chuma; the multimedia symphony Babar composed by Raphael Mostel, as well any number of regional companies including Milwaukee Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Aspen / Santa Fe Ballet Company, Trinity Irish Dance Company, and Hubbard Street Dance Company. Recent projects have included the lighting design for Nicolo Fonte’s premiere of Within/Without, set on Pacific Northwest Ballet. In August 2000, Michael was the production designer for Stars of the New York City Ballet, performing outdoors in a garden he designed especially for the event in the south of France. Michael’s lighting for music events has been seen many times in venues such as NJPAC’s Prudential Hall and Victoria Theatre, working with artists such as India Irie, Celia Cruz, Michael Feinstein and guests, and a wide variety of jazz greats such as Kenny Barron with Regina Carter and Pharoah Sanders.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is sponsored by Varnum, The Wege Foundation, James and Mary Nelson, and Michael and Melissa Lojek. Media sponsor is Michigan Radio.
PRE-SHOW CHAT WITH ARTISTIC DIRECTOR PATRICIA BARKER
Peter Martin Wege Theatre – one half hour before the performance (7:00pm & 1:30pm). Certain performances may also include choreographers. Free for ticketholders.
Wevers pares down the complex narrative of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by exploring unresolved tensions between Oberon and Titania and radically stripping away the usual green-and-mossy-bower setting in favor of a totally white stage. The use of color and contrast is used to tell the characters apart: white for fairies and color for mortal lovers.
Unlike Shakespeare’s play, Wevers sees the fairies as the real protagonists, rather than the mortals. The tangled, teasing, confrontational relationship of the fairy king and queen, Oberon and Titania, expresses real love’s complexity– not the superficial love of the mortal couples who chase each other about the stage, falling in and out of love at the drop of some magical nectar.
At the core of this tale is love, and love in its many guises. Olivier responds to the story’s commentary on societal values and priorities that make love trivial, without shading.
THE DREAMER: Young Nick, a misfit, is an avid reader with a wild imagination. He loves nature and science, believes in magical creatures and dreams of running for President when he grows up. In bed one midsummer night, fueled by his day’s adventures he drifts into a deep sleep and finds himself in a world where bright flowers burst open revealing sweet love drops, youthful lovers court, grownup politicians changing their stripes, and through it all, magical fairies inject their perverse sense of humor into the mortal collage.
THE FAIRIES: Queen Titania and King Oberon love each other, but make a game of dueling over the young dreamer’s attention. Oberon orders his minion Puck to bring him a magic flower, whose nectar he will squeeze into his Queen’s eyes as she sleeps. The magic drops will cause Titania to fall in love with whatever creature she sees upon waking, thus embarrassing her in front of her Kingdom and giving him the upper hand.
THE LOVERS: Lysander and Hermia are in love. Helena loves Demetrius, but he has fallen out of love with her and in love with Hermia. Helena pursues Demetrius who chases Hermia.
THE MISTAKE: Witnessing this love tangle, Oberon orders Puck to drop some of the magic flower’s nectar in Demetrius’s eyes so he will awake in Helena’s company and fall back in love with her. But Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, and places the magic drops in his eyes instead. In the confusion, Helena stumbles over Lysander, waking him. As he lays eyes on Helena, he falls madly in love with her, dismissing Hermia.
THE SWITCH: Looking for the perfect creature to make Titania fall in love with, Puck spots Nick Bottom, an ambitious politician busy running in the dreamland’s presidential election, and transforms him into a donkey. As luck and Puck would have it, Bottom-the-ass is the first creature Titania sees on waking from her enchanted slumber. She falls in love with him and tends to his every desire.
THE MESS: Though Oberon enjoys the trickery, he becomes angry when he realizes that Puck has ruined his attempt to reunite Helena and Demetrius. Oberon himself anoints Demetrius with the love nectar. When Demetrius proclaims his love to Helena, however, she feels mocked by both Demetrius and Lysander and runs off.
THE FOG: Finally, Oberon puts an end to all the quarreling. With Puck’s help, he confuses the four lovers in a fog and tires them so they fall asleep. He then squeezes love nectar in Lysander’s eyes and insures that the first person he sees on waking is Hermia, thus securing love and peace between the two couples.
THE END: All that remains is to lift the spell on Titania, and for them to reconcile their differences.