Douglas Martin studied with Baryshnikov, performed as the principal dancer in ballets by greats, such as Balanchine and Joffrey, and has had an amazing performance career until he retired in 2002. Martin became a major asset for the Princeton Ballet School through his teaching, production, and choreographic work, and in 2010 became the American Repertory Ballet Artistic Director.
Princeton embraces the arts whole-heartedly, and a man of such pedigree leading ARB is exactly the calibre of talent this town needs. Since Martin’s new appointment, he has choreographed new works, including Ephemeral Possessions, Pathways, Rite of Spring, Firebird, and a full-length production of both Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer’s Night Dream. He has also comissioned 31 company premiers, comprising of 19 world premiers. Mr. Martin has also premiered a new production of the beloved Nutcracker.
Nutcracker is a great American holiday tradition regardless of religion, even in small towns. There are people who don’t go to the ballet, but will go to the Nutcracker. It is often the first ballet experience for people. In 1944 there was the first Nutcracker performance in San Fransisco. Balanchine did it in 1952. ARB created its first full production in 1964, making it the sixth Nutcracker in the country. [Trivia] Bebe Neuwirth performed Nutcracker with ARB. John Lithgow’s father [Arthur Washington Lithgow III] was a theatrical producer, became the artistic director of McCarter Theatre [in 1963], and brought the Nutcracker to Princeton.
50% of a live performance is about the audience. Their reaction to the performers in turn further affect the performance. Being part of the live audience gives you a tiny bit control of the outcome by motivating performers. Also, the acoustics and electricity in the air cannot be recorded. ~ Douglas Martin
Princeton loves the holiday favorite Nutcracker performed at McCarter, but the American Repertory Ballet is more than that. They open their season with Season Premier on Friday, September 25 celebrating Douglas Martin’s fifth year as ARB’s Artistic Director. Families use Nutcracker as an introduction to ballet, but should consider expanding their children’s exposure to ballet by attending Echoes of Russian Ballet at the State Theatre in New Brunswick on Friday, April 15, 2016 featuring Firebird, Afternoon of a Faun, and Rite of Spring. An additional performance to see, would be one of the world’s most popular ballets, A Midsummers Night Dream. This can be experienced at the Raritan Valley Community College, March 18 – 19, 2016.
New choreography is created for each ARB production. Original music and libretto is also used. Rite of Spring (1913) was staged in 1960 and Martin gives it a breath of fresh air. As for A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Martin will be the first to tell the story of the humans and why they end up in the forest, so a libretto has been written for that using other Mendlesohn music.
Like in every branch of the arts, money and support are needed to continue. Martin shared “A non-profit is not looking to get rich, but enrich. If we build the audience right and get funding, the audience will be even more enriched, because the production value and the amount of art they [the non-profit] can bring will be expanded” He added “It’s fine to get entertainment at home, but life is about interacting with your community. Restaurants and downtown vibrancy are dependent on the arts to help attract people to the area. Experience live food and live theater.” Martin is happy making it through tough times and still being able to produce art.
Douglas Martin continues to make a strong impact in the dance world. Under his leadership, the Greater Princeton Area has the privilege of watching quality ballet performances without a trip to New York or Philadelphia. Here’s to five more great years Mr. Martin!