By Stephanie Green | February 28, 2017 | Culture
This March, Julie Kent and Victor Barbee put their stamp on the Washington Ballet with a new staging of Giselle.
Julie Kent dances the title role in Giselle opposite José Manuel Carreño for American Ballet Theatre in 2009. The piece is close to her heart: It made up the backstory to the 1987 film Dancers, in which she starred with Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Ask the Washington Ballet’s new artistic director, Julie Kent, how she’s enjoying her life in Washington and you’ll receive a not-so-surprising reply: “Well… I’ve been in the studio working pretty much since we arrived.” This dogged work ethic has been the engine behind her graceful journey from Bethesda’s homegrown dancer to world-class star at the American Ballet Theatre, where she performed some of ballet’s most iconic roles as a principal dancer from 1993 to 2015. Last year she and her husband, Victor Barbee, another ABT principal dancer, returned to the area to take the reins of the Washington Ballet. (Barbee is the associate artistic director.)
It’s clear her collaboration with Barbee keeps her inspired. “He brings decades of experience in a specialized way of transferal of information,” she explains, ticking off the dance luminaries with whom he’s worked. This March, at the Kennedy Center, they reveal the fruit of their labor with Giselle, a timeless story of “betrayal and forgiveness,” she says. Their take on the ballet is “very straightforward… so it doesn’t stray from the heart of the story.” “The foundation for ballet stands upon the classical masterpieces,” adds Barbee. “The Washington Ballet, by starting with Giselle, will further enhance its presence as a source of cultural pride in our nation’s capital.” March 1–5, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW, 202-467-4600
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GARY FRIEDMAN/LOS ANGELES TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES (BALLET); BILL O’LEARY/THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY