Ballet Theatre of Maryland in the 2002-2003 season will honor the life of Edward Stewart, the BTM founding artistic director. Stewart, who died of lung cancer July 30, left a legacy of dedication and discipline for the dancers who begin a new season without him.
A number of guest choreographers will offer their artistic perspectives in new productions. The company will not select a full-time artistic director until at least the end of the season.
The season begins with a program designed by choreographer Peter Anastos, who arrived Sept. 3 to begin working with the dancers for the season's opener Oct. 12 and 13. One day after his arrival, Anastos was filled with admiration for the dancers he had met and enthusiasm for choreographing his version of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.
After a day with the dancers he said, "I love them already. We sat on the floor and talked, and it seemed like a good start. When the ballet director is also the founder of the company, it's a doubly difficult loss. I'm here to help the dancers move forward and need to see what they want to do.
"This is a collaborative effort," said Anastos, a colleague of Mikhail Baryshnikov. "They're a very smart bunch who I show something and they have it right away, catching on instantly. I think we had a wonderful first day."
Anastos' choreography will be danced by a troupe to include Zhiriu Zou, Bat-Erdene Udval, Sergei Vladimirov, Dmitri Malikov, Robert Michalski, Anmarie B. Touloumis, Kelly Hoenig and Jaime Lawton to piano accompaniment by Stef Scaggiari, a local musician of national renown.
The program will include Anastos' choreography of Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune with piano accompaniment provided by pianist Amy Klosterman, a faculty member of the Baltimore School for the Arts.
Pianist Scaggiari will also play works by Frederic Chopin and for Yes, Virginia, Another Piano Ballet -- a sassy spoof, which since its debut in 1974 has become part of the repertoire of several major dance companies.
Five performances of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker will be offered at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis in December. It was Stewart who designated BTM's dancer and teacher Leslie Bradley to direct this Nutcracker, which will use Stewart's choreography. For the second part of the season, the classic will be danced to live music by the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra conducted by Charles Rosekrans. Five Nutcracker performances will be offered Dec. 6, 7, 8 and 14 at Maryland Hall.
Inspiration of the Ballet Russes, set to Serge Diaghilev's favorite composers, will be offered in conjunction with Baltimore's celebration of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, Russia. Scheduled for March 1 and 2 at the theater in the Baltimore Museum of Art, the ballet will be accompanied by the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. Admission to the exhibit - Art of the Ballets Russes - will be included for this BTM performance in Baltimore.
The season will end in April with a program by guest choreographer Alex Ossadnik featuring works by Igor Stravinsky, Anton Dvorak and Johann Strauss danced at Maryland Hall with music provided by the Baltimore Chamber Ensemble.
Information on BTM's season and to order tickets: 410-263- 2909 or check BTM's Web site at www.btmballet.org.