“The divertissements are taken out of the context of the ballet ‘Napoli' so there is no hint of a story — just the joy of dancing,” Sparso said.
“It's very understated but extremely difficult to do because the phrasing has to be so precise. It's also been difficult to teach. I think of it almost like trying to learn Chinese.”
Since becoming artistic director of the Oklahoma City Ballet in the fall of 2008, Mills has used the company's February performances to showcase new ballets by some of the most innovative choreographers working today.
These winter dates have also featured some little-known ballets.
“Bournonville's ‘Napoli' is uplifting and will leave people energized,” Mills said.
“My ballet ‘Pushing Pennies' is almost quizzical in its mood and has no real storyline. It functions as a sort of palate cleanser. Like ‘Napoli,' ‘Paris Rouge' offers a European sensibility with a lot of energized folk dancing.
“These three ballets will give audiences a lot of variety, from something classical the city has never seen before (‘Napoli') to taking the classical ballet idiom as far as we can into contemporary movement (‘Pushing Pennies'). I have a feeling that the longer I am in this role and by bringing in works by so many different choreographers, the repertoire will become dense and the repertoire will continue to build.”