Tulsa Ballet celebrates its 60th Anniversary with classics such as ‘Swan Lake’ and new works including ‘A Return to Oz’

Tulsa, OKLA. – February 1, 2016 – Tulsa Ballet Artistic Director Marcello Angelini proudly announces the 2016/17 Season. “I am honored with the task of creating yet another milestone season for Tulsa Ballet: the season that will celebrate our sixtieth anniversary.  In fact, I have been privileged to craft the fortieth anniversary season in 1996, the fiftieth anniversary season in 2006, and now I have the great honor to start off another decade for our wonderful organization!” 

The incredible lineup encompasses audience favorites and world premieres by some of the most sought after choreographers. Tulsa Ballet performances will take place at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Studio K located in the Tulsa Ballet headquarters, as well as a spring series in The Lorton Performance Center on the campus of The University of Tulsa.

Mr. Angelini describes shaping the upcoming season to be reflective of the company as well as helping it to continue to grow as one of the top-ten ballet companies in the United States. Although creating a season for Tulsa Ballet is never an easy task, it is one he looks forward to every year. There are a multitude of factors that need to be considered, such as the company’s ability to maintain and expand audiences and enhance their appreciation of the art form. Tulsa Ballet is very fortunate to have one of the highest rates of renewal for subscribers in the country which is a privilege we work hard to earn.

Equally important are the artistic considerations. Mr. Angelini says he is always mindful of the dancers and their growth. “We want to provide a repertory that gives the company dancers the ability to grow technically and artistically with versatility as well as being attractive to top talent from around the world; we need a repertory that has enough food on the table for all the family members. If there are not enough roles to go around, then talented individuals won’t have an opportunity to progress and grow through the ranks. Growing the next generation of leaders for the company has always been on the top of my priority list.  We also have to plan on how we use our human resources, so that we can carry through any given season in spite of injuries.”

Tulsa Ballet is honored to be highly regarded in the international community and is often mentioned alongside much larger companies. According to Mr. Angelini, it is “not an accident.” He says, “The quality of the repertory is a major factor for our international reputation which is needed to remain the Oklahoma Cultural Ambassador that we are.

A reputation that has given the company the opportunity to tour to Portugal, South Korea, Croatia, Serbia and, this spring, Italy.”

Fitting all these objectives into one season, while producing something spectacular – worthy of a 60th birthday celebration – has been the task at hand for Mr. Angelini.  As for the underlying theme of the season, he says, “While our fiftieth anniversary celebration was as much as a retrospective as it was a look at the future, our sixtieth birthday will be focused heavily on the present and future of the company. In fact, it will chart the trajectory for the growth of the company for the next ten years. That means new and exciting works, existing masterpieces and launching the artistic leaders of the future.”


Creations in Studio K

September 16-25th at the Tulsa Ballet Studio K Theater

Artistic Director Marcello Angelini says, “The worth of a company lies in the balance between importing high quality art from all over the world while being able to create high quality art to be exported out of our state.  At the same time, we want to give the opportunity to young voices to develop their skills so the creative pool keeps replenishing itself.” Next years’ programming will include new World Premiere works by the following choreographers:

Ma Cong – Tulsa Ballet’s own Resident Choreographer Ma Cong was named one of the “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine for both his dancing and his choreography. The unique style of one of Tulsa’s favorite choreographers is rooted in both his classical and neoclassical experience with Tulsa Ballet as well as his early training in Chinese dance.  “Ma Cong has created close to a dozen works for our company. He continues to grow as a choreographer and his engagements to create works for other national as well as international organizations increase each year,” Angelini said.

Garrett Smith – At just 27 years old, Garrett performed in the Olympics Opening Ceremonies, toured the world and has created works for Houston Ballet, Ballet West and The Norwegian National Ballet. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, he began his formal training with the Utah Regional Ballet and eventually choreographed his first work with Houston Ballet as an apprentice, through an award presented to him by Peter Martins from the New York Choreographic Institute Fellowship. Mr. Angelini says, “Garrett auditioned for Tulsa Ballet when he was 19.  After the audition, rather than asking me what he would dance in the company, he asked me if he could choreograph for the company. Well, I didn’t hire him, which was a big mistake!”

Joshua Peugh – Joshua L. Peugh is the Founder and Artistic Director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. After graduating from Southern Methodist University, Joshua moved to South Korea to join Universal Ballet Company. Since then, he has created work for festivals in Asia, Europe, and North America winning awards for his choreography in Korea, Japan, Canada, and the USA. He has been chosen as one of Dance Magazine’s 2015 “25 to Watch,” and was recently named “an important discovery” by The New York Times. Joshua has been commissioned to create for BODYTRAFFIC, BalletX, Company E, Ballet Memphis, and Whim W’Him among others. Mr. Angelini says, “For those of you who saw his work for TBII last season entitled Slump, you know exactly why I selected him.”


Choreography by John Cranko – October 28-30th

Based on Alexander Pushkin’s verse-novel Eugene Onegin, this full-length ballet tells the love story of Tatiana and Onegin. A dramatic tale of unrequited romance, audience members will be moved by this passionate ballet. Mr. Angelini says, “John Cranko, the choreographer of Taming of the Shrew, is considered to be one of the ten grand masters of the 20th century.  Onegin is one of his three masterpieces. It is a part of the active repertory of companies such as The National Ballet of Canada, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Royal Ballet of London, The Kirov Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet and many others. I am delighted to be able to bring this work to celebrate 60 years of accomplishments of Tulsa Ballet. Sets and costumes will come from the Polish National Ballet in Warsaw.  This is a nice connection for us since Warsaw is the birthplace of the founder of Tulsa Ballet, Mr. Jasinski.”

The Nutcracker

Choreography by Marcello Angelini, Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – December 10-23rd
A young girl’s fantasy unfolds in this remarkable production that mixes the visuals of a Broadway show with the heartwarming story of a fairytale Christmas. More than 100 local children join the professional company to help the larger-than-life Mouse King battle the Nutcracker Prince and his toy soldier brigade. Mr. Angelini tries to keep the production fresh every year and says with a smile, “I have a few more changes in mind.”

A Return to Oz

Choreography by Edwaard Liang – February 10-12

Be the first in the world to join Dorothy and her friends as they dance through Oz. Commissioned by Tulsa Ballet, this brand-new, full-length ballet will delight audiences of all ages. Featuring sets, costumes and a score all created just for Tulsa Ballet. Angelini says, “One of the mediums to achieve our company’s growth is to create new and accessible full evening story ballets. Thanks to longtime Tulsa Ballet supporter, Mollie Williford, the centerpiece of our Diamond Season will be the World Premiere of this brand new $1 million production inspired by one of the 14 books written by L. Frank Baum. This work, which will be of the utmost artistic integrity, will also have a familiar world able to entice the next tier of entertainment seekers. The creative team assembled for this work is first rate: sets by The McArthur Foundation Genius Award winner Basil Twist, costumes by top American designer Mark Zappone, libretto, score and additional music by Vienna Staatsoper librettist and musicologist Oliver Peter Graber and choreography by international master Edwaard Liang.”  A Return to Oz is a co-production of BalletMet and Tulsa Ballet

Swan Lake 

Choreography by Marcello Angelini – March 24-26th

The classic ballet returns to Tulsa for the first time in six years. Odette, a young maiden trapped in the form of a swan due to an evil sorcerer’s curse, must find eternal love to break the spell. Marcello Angelini says, “An anniversary season can’t be void of THE classical masterpiece of the 19th century!  We last performed Swan Lake in 2011 and during the past year or two we received a lot of inquiries about when it would be performed next. The sets and costumes will come from Texas Ballet Theater and we expect this work to be very well attended.” This lavish production will feature scenery and costumes suitable for royalty. Originally created for Houston Ballet by Tony Award winning designer Desmond Heeley, this production overflows with stunning visuals that have been described as “eye-popping” by Dance Magazine.

Signature Series – May 11-14th

Tulsa Ballet once again closes out their Season by importing some of the greatest contemporary works from around the world to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Mr. Angelini describes his favorite program of the year, “Signature Series is greatly innovative, entertaining and energetic.” These series have quickly become an audience favorite and provides a wonderful opportunity to experience exciting works in The University of Tulsa’s Lorton Performance Center.

A Million Kisses to My Skin

Choreography by David Dawson

Angelini says, “We will open with A Million Kisses to My Skin, a work by the Dutch National Ballet’s resident choreographer David Dawson. A classical piece with an edge, A Million Kisses to My Skin is a neo-classical ballet full of virtuoso technique with the aesthetics of the 21st century.” Dance Europe said the work “inhabits a rarefied atmosphere while remaining accessible and appealing. Dawson gives the classical vocabulary a rebirth. Familiar steps, set against a formalist frame, take your breath away with their new-minted candor.” Dawson is currently the Associate Artist with the Dutch National Ballet and his works have been performed in more than 25 countries and entered repertoires of many ballet companies.

Cripple and the Starfish

Choreography by Adam Hougland

Adam is the Principal Choreographer for The Louisville Ballet and has created seven critically acclaimed original works for the company including Rite of Spring, which Tulsa Ballet performed in 2013. He is Resident Choreographer for Cincinnati Ballet where he has created an evening-length Mozart’s Requiem. Mr. Angelini says,I think Adam created a masterpiece and this work gets under my skin and hits emotional notes that I didn’t even know were there. In talking with audience members as well as staff members, I realized that this has become a favorite of all of ours.” James Watts of the Tulsa World described the performance saying, “Hougland’s Cripple and the Starfish is set to music by the band Antony and the Johnsons, and these plaintive, yet beautiful songs of doomed, transgressive love make a powerful backdrop for Hougland’s choreography, which makes the disturbing emotions of this music visceral and vibrant…those who are truly empathetic may find it devastating. It packs that sort of emotional wallop.”


Choreography by Alexander Ekman

Tulsa Ballet will close the Signature Series with Cacti; a work by Alexander Ekman created for The Netherlands Dans Theater.  Ekman is known for his fast paced timing, witty humor and clever transitions. His ballets have been performed by the Who’s Who of the ballet world including the Vienna Staatsoper, Boston Ballet, The Royal Swedish Ballet and many more. Other companies that have performed Cacti in North America are the Boston Ballet and National Ballet of Canada. The Australian writes, “Ekman has pulled off one of the most difficult challenges in dance, which is to be genuinely funny. Cacti is a delight: witty, effervescent, playful, surreal and joyously physical.” Mr. Angelini says, “Cacti exemplifies the future of the company: innovative, energetic, entertaining, compelling and charismatic.  Next season is going to be one for the history books.  I am very proud to be part of the fourth, fifth, and sixth decade anniversaries of Tulsa Ballet!”

Tulsa Ballet II, the pre-professional company of Tulsa Ballet, will have its own season of two productions: “On Your Radar,” August 19th and 21st, and “Emerging Choreographers Showcase,” April 21st and 23rd, held at Studio K.

Quick Facts

Tulsa Ballet 2016/17 Season

Creations in Studio K

Three World Premiere pieces from Garrett Smith, Joshua Peugh and Resident Choreographer Ma Cong in Tulsa Ballet’s intimate 300-seat Studio K Theater.

September 16, 17, 22, 23, 24 at 8:00pm and September 17, 18, 24, 25 at 3:00pm


Choreography by John Cranko

At the Tulsa Performing Arts Center featuring live music from Tulsa Symphony Orchestra
October 28, 29, at 8:00pm and October 30 at 3:00pm

The Nutcracker

Choreography by Marcello Angelini, Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

At the Tulsa Performing Arts Center featuring live music from Tulsa Symphony Orchestra
December 10, 11, 17, 18 at 2:00pm and December 16, 17, 22, 23 at 7:00pm

A Return to Oz

Choreography by Edwaard Liang

At the Tulsa Performing Arts Center featuring live music from Tulsa Symphony Orchestra
February 10, 11, at 8:00pm and February 12 at 3:00pm

Swan Lake

Choreography by Marcello Angelini

At the Tulsa Performing Arts Center featuring live music from Tulsa Symphony Orchestra

March 24, 25 at 8:00pm and March 26 at 3:00pm

Signature Series
A Million Kisses to My Skin Choreography by David Dawson

Cripple and the Starfish Choreography by Adam Hougland

Cacti Choreography by Alexander Ekman

At the Lorton Performance Center on The University of Tulsa campus
May 11, 12, 13, 14 at 8:00pm and May 13, 14 at 3:00pm

Ticket Information:                   Call (918) 749-6006 or visit www.tulsaballet.org.


Season Tickets are on sale now. Single Tickets for all shows excluding A Return to Oz will go on sale August 1, 2016. A Return to Oz tickets are available in Season Ticket packages and Oz single tickets will go on sale December 5, 2016. For more information on the Tulsa Ballet season, visit www.tulsaballet.org. 

Hi-Res images and interview opportunities available:

Ryan Allen, PR & Communications Manager

918.392.5949, ryan.allen@tulsaballet.org