Saint Louis Ballet’s “Could This Be Love?” Explores Romance in Three Pieces

 In Culture, Event

One of the most romantic weekends of the year is just around the corner, and there’s no better way to spend it than with a trip to the Saint Louis Ballet. Its latest production—enticingly titled “Could This Be Love?”—will be performed exclusively over Valentine’s Day weekend.

With its unique musical collaborations and high-caliber guest choreographers, “Could This Be Love?” offers a unique insight into the contemporary world of ballet. Guided: St. Louis caught up with Gen Horiuchi, the renowned artistic director of the Saint Louis Ballet, to hear about the production and why it resonates with all audiences, no ballet experience needed.

Guided: Tell us about “Could This Be Love?”
The original story is presenting three different ballets. Each piece is related to love, but there isn’t a specific overarching plot.

We open with “The American,” which is choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, who is one of the most sought-after choreographers today. This is the first time he will be involved in one of our productions, and we’re very fortunate to have him. This piece will have live music played by the Arianna String Quartet. We’re so excited about this collaboration.

The second piece will be a world premier by New York-based choreographer Emery LeCrone. Emery has worked with us three times before. It’s great when we are able to foster continuing collaborations because we grow together in exciting ways.

The last piece is “Jazz á la Française,” which I choreographed myself.  It features music by jazz composer Claude Bolling, who I personally know. This partnership allows for an interesting combination of jazz and classical steps.

Guided: What makes this show a must-see?
Watching a ballet is so romantic, it’s the perfect event for a Valentine’s Day weekend. There is such a romantic feel to this show and a great chemistry between the dancers. We’ve been doing a Valentine’s Day production since 2014, and it’s always successful. The audience has something to celebrate. There’s always a lot of couples but also just groups of friends. It attracts a great mix of people from all different age groups.

It’s a really wonderful production to see if you aren’t a ballet expert. You don’t need to know anything going in because there is no story to follow. This show is about enjoying the beautiful dancing. It’s easy and accessible everyone.

Saint Louis Ballet's "Could This Be Love?" Explores Romance in Three Pieces

Guided: What’s it like for you leading up to the debut of a new production?
It’s always so exciting with new choreographers coming in with their own inspiration. For this production in particular, there is always a special excitement because things have calmed down after the holidays and Valentine’s Day is the next real special weekend.

Guided: How have you seen the Saint Louis Ballet evolve in the time you’ve been involved?
Next year we will celebrate 20 years, and every year is a new highlight for my career as a professional ballet director. We’re constantly growing and expanding. I’m so grateful that St. Louis continues to have so much support for our ballet company.

Saint Louis Ballet's "Could This Be Love?" Explores Romance in Three Pieces

Guided: What challenges have you faced as artistic director?
We’re the only ballet company in St. Louis, so we really see it as our mission to introduce the newest types of ballet that are happening. We present the classics, but we also introduce new choreography that is happening across the country in order to keep the audience informed. I don’t want to just present my work. I like to introduce many different types of choreography. I view that as one of our biggest challenges, but the audience is always supportive of the work we do.

Guided: What kind of outreach do you do throughout the community to ensure a broad range of people come to the ballet?
We have a special educational program where we go to schools and give lectures to young students. We want people to be familiar with ballet from a young age and feel like it’s something they can participate in. We also make sure to offer shows that people are familiar with. For example, “Sleeping Beauty” is a show that resonates with people of all ages and backgrounds. We want the ballet to be here for everyone. Programs like “Could This Be Love” offer a great way to engage with the community. Valentine’s Day weekend is a time when everyone wants to be celebrating, and there’s no better way to do that than with a trip to the ballet.

“Could This Be Love?” runs Feb. 14-16 at The Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Tickets are available online or by phone at 314.516.4949 .

Photos courtesy of Saint Louis Ballet by Pratt Kreidich.

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