The National Ballet of Canada will continue its emphasis on fresh choreography in 2012-13 by premiering works by John Neumeier and Davide Bombana.

Artistic director Karen Kain announced the upcoming season at a press conference in Toronto on Monday, highlighting the company’s return to the Sadler’s Wells stage in London with a hit from last year's program: Alexei Ratmansky's Romeo and Juliet. It has been 20 years since the National Ballet performed on a London stage.

Kain said that taking Romeo and Juliet to London will be "the highlight of my career as artistic director."

"Our dancers are excited about the repertoire and about the chance to dance outside of Canada," she told CBC News. "They are as good dancers as anywhere in the world but they don't get seen as often as we don't tour internationally."

Russian choreographer Ratmansky’s Romeo and Juliet, commissioned by the National Ballet, also will return to Toronto in March 2013. The new production replaced the 1960s-era version of Shakespeare's romantic tragedy choreographed by John Cranko, which was a long-standing favourite in the company's repertoire. The troupe will also take the production to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in January 2013.


Otto Bubenicek and Anna Polikarpova of The Hamburg Ballet are seen performing in Nijinsky. (Holger Badekow/National Ballet of Canada)

Kain’s decision to invest in new works represented a big risk for the company, but has paid off with increased international stature and audience interest. She continues that approach in 2012-13 with her commission of a new version of Nijinsky choreographed by Neumeier, the American dancer who is currently director and chief choreographer at the Hamburg Ballet. 

Kain said she'd been trying to convince Neumeier to let the National Ballet take on Nijinsky for the last four to five years.

"Nijinsky is the ballet that's closest to his heart. He's had a huge success with it and for a long time kept it only for his company so we are the first company outside of Hamberg Ballet to actually have the chance to do this," she said, adding that Neumeier "trusts the National Ballet to do it justice."

Italian choreographer Davide Bombana’s Carmen returns to the stage in a new full-length production. It was first performed in Toronto as a one-act dance work in 2009.

Former National Ballet director James Kudelka will bring his piece The Man in Black, which has been performed widely throughout North America, to Toronto during the summer of 2013. The company previously danced it on its Western Canada tour.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the new production created by Christopher Wheeldon for the Toronto company and England’s Royal Ballet in 2010, will be reprised as the season opener in September 2012. Popular demand prompted its return, Kain said.

In fact, there will be 16 performances of the work, to meet pent-up demand for tickets. Alice will also be touring to two U.S. cities, though Kain could not yet reveal where it will be staged.

"You're probably wondering why we can't take Alice in Wonderland across Canada when we can take it to the States. The difference is that there are theatres that are willing to pay us huge guarantees to cover our costs in the U.S. We don't have that in Canada," Kain said.

Other dance works planned for 2012-13 include:

  • Giselle.
  • The Nutcracker. 
  • The Four Seasons by Kudelka and Emergence by Crystal Pite.
  • Pur ti Miro & No. 24, with The Man in Black and Theme and Variations.