Richmond Ballet moving Studio series into VMFA


Sometimes a production is so big, you need a partner to help pull it off.

Richmond Ballet is staging “Carmina Burana,” one of its most popular pieces, Sept. 22-24 in a co-presentation with the Richmond Symphony. While the ballet and symphony perform together all the time, this co-presentation will allow an expanded production featuring 16 dancers, 60 musicians and up to 150 singers from the Richmond Symphony Chorus.

According to Richmond Ballet’s Managing Director Brett Bonda, putting together this kind of a collaboration was “a no-brainer.” “We think it’s great for the Richmond community to see two of the area’s largest arts organizations working together in a collaborative way,” he explains. “We just thought this was a win-win.”

The enduring popularity of “Carmina” has everything to do with the music, according to Bonda. “The music is so dramatic that it gets used in a lot of movies,” he says. “I watch a lot of football and sometimes I’ll hear it on a preview for an upcoming game and I’m like, ‘this is everywhere!’”

Some of the most exciting developments for the Ballet extend well beyond this fall, however. The company announced plans in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to bring its Studio series to the VMFA’s Leslie Cheek Theatre. “If all goes according to plan, we will be staging our repertory-style productions on a newly renovated stage there next fall,” Bonda says. “Construction should start in the next couple of months.”

The renovation is necessary to accommodate the breadth of some of the Ballet’s productions. “The width of this stage is currently 33 feet and we like to have somewhere between 37 and 40 feet,” Bonda explains.

“[Associate Artistic Director] Ma Cong has so many ideas about ballets he wants to choreograph based on the museum’s artwork,” he says. “Next year we’re going to have a lot to talk about.”