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Springloaded’s 20th anniversary to present original repertoire and Memphis twist on Stravinsky’s “Petrushka”

Petrushka 2019 ©Patricia Possel
Fearless Mine 2019 ©Patricia Possel

20th anniversary production runs May 12-13 at Buckman Performing Arts Center

New Ballet Ensemble & School will present its 20th annual Springloaded production, featuring original and reimagined works. The program will return to the Buckman Performing Arts Center, where it premiered in the spring of 2003. To celebrate this 20-year milestone, New Ballet will perform a range of works, many of which made their world stage debut in Springloaded over the years, including the modern reframing of Igor Stravinsky’s “Petrushka.”

Springloaded runs Friday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 13 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 online at and $30 at the door.

“This year’s production of Springloaded is a salute to the past 20 years as we embark on a new and expanded strategic focus for the organization, and there’s no better place to celebrate than the Buckman Center where it all started,” said Katie Smythe, New Ballet founding CEO and artistic director. “Since day one, New Ballet has worked intentionally to present diverse works for our audiences’ enjoyment. For this year’s program, we have updated historic pieces for today’s generation of young dancers, specifically the O Fortuna section of ‘Carmina Burana’ choreographed by New Ballet alumna Chris Roberts.”

Springloaded features a compilation of original, diverse repertoire and works.

  • “Fearless Mine” by Francesca Harper. Set for New Ballet and debuted in 2012 at the Buckman Center, Harper dedicated this work to her mother, Denise Jefferson, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater star and Director of the School. Harper followed her mother’s model of leadership at Alvin Ailey and is now the artistic director of Ailey II. A stunning and athletic piece, “Fearless Mine” finds dancers breaking away from a seemingly magnetic wall and courageously challenging themselves to be freed of fear.
  • “O Fortuna” by Chris Roberts. Roberts choreographed this piece in 2005 for Springloaded at the age of 19 while working as a New Ballet apprentice. The most recognized passage from Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” “O Fortuna” is remixed to a techno beat and emanates the same energy through a fusion of hip-hop and ballet.

    “Ballet has traditionally been presented in a formal setting, and this piece intentionally switches the tone to blast audiences out of their seats, exposing ballet dancers to that invigorating, affirming feedback loop as experienced in hip-hop,” Roberts said. “I’m thrilled to rework this piece with a new generation of New Ballet dancers.”
  • “E Pluribus Unum” by Elizabeth Corbett. Originally set in 2018, the dancers worked with Corbett to build a work to illustrate how their lasting friendships have made space for each dancer’s individuality, even as they rely on one another as a unit. The piece illustrates, then and now, how students of the arts grow together in skill, artistry and as humans in community. Corbett’s illustrious career includes the Frankfurt Ballet, under the direction of groundbreaking choreographer, William Forsythe, whose methodologies she teaches worldwide from her base today in Memphis.
  • “Let’s Go” by Michael Medcalf. Medcalf, an associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Memphis, continues his contribution of original Springloaded works with “Let’s Go,” an original piece developed exclusively for the men of New Ballet.
  • “Where the Women Dance, the Rain Shall Fall” by Rochelle Wilbun. Wilbun is a New Ballet alumna, a graduate of Columbia University who has performed with the famed Urban Bush Women, and is currently a member of the Gibney Company Community Center in Brooklyn, New York. Her new work opens the performance,  drawing on Afro-Caribbean movement in celebration of the female spirit.
  • “Petrushka Remix” by the Ensemble. Similar to New Ballet’s “NutRemix,” which is a modern reframing of “The Nutcracker,” New Ballet brings new life to “Petrushka” by shifting the original narrative, eliminating racial caricatures, humanizing the characters and connecting relevance to audience’s lives today. New Ballet’s hyperlocal reimagining takes place in Memphis during the annual Cooper-Young Festival, in the neighborhood where the organization is located. Teaching a lesson of acceptance, this work tells the story of a ballet student who is wrongly marginalized for his love for Memphis Jookin and faces criticism from his choreographer and peers. New Ballet’s “Petrushka Remix” premiered at the Germantown Performing Arts Center in 2018.

Posted by New Ballet at April 3, 2023