SARATOGA SPRINGS - The National Ballet of Canada, one of the world’s top international dance companies, will present three of its most acclaimed works during its debut engagement July 16 to 18 at Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

The season will include its signature productions, the full-length story ballet, “Giselle.” Regarded as one of the most romantic and visually striking works in the classical canon, “Giselle” headlines a repertory program that also features modern masterpieces by globally acclaimed choreographers James Kudelka and Crystal Pite.

“The National Ballet of Canada is a major force in the ballet world, equally renowned for its commitment to the classical tradition as to contemporary exploration. SPAC audiences will have a front-row seat to both as we welcome this superb, world-class company to our dance season for the first time in 2013,” said Marcia J. White, SPAC’s president and executive director.

One of the most popular ballets of all time, Sir Peter Wright’s version of “Giselle” has been in The National Ballet of Canada’s active repertoire since it first debuted in 1970. Based on a fairy tale about a peasant girl who falls in love with a dashing prince disguised as a commoner, “Giselle” follows its heroine through a haunting story of betrayal, heartbreak, forgiveness and redemption. The title role of Giselle has been called “the ballerina’s Hamlet” and is regarded as one of the most difficult in ballet because of the intensely dramatic nature of the role, as well as the physical stamina required to dance the lead throughout the full-length production.

Providing a vivid contrast to “Giselle’s” Romantic-era style and sensibility will be the company’s presentation of two contemporary works by two of Canada’s most talented choreographers, Kudelka and Pite.

Kudelka’s “Four Seasons,” a work touted by critics and patrons as a “modern masterpiece,” is a powerful exploration in dance and music of the seasons of a man’s life. “Emergence” by Pite explores the instinct for creating social forms through the movement and architecture of the choreography itself. The work won four Dora Awards.

Founded by British dance star Celia Franca in 1951, The National Ballet of Canada has been a major force in the world of ballet since Rudolf Nureyev performed with it in the mid-1960s and brought the company to New York. With nearly 70 dancers and its own orchestra, its repertoire includes works by the world’s most celebrated 20th- and 21st-century masters. The company, which makes its home at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, is led by Artistic Director Karen Kain.

Tickets start at $24 for lawn admission; amphitheater seating ranges from $24 to $80. Kids 12 and younger are free on the lawn. Tickets are available online at www.spac.org and beginning May 15, by phone at 584-9330 and at SPAC’s Route 50 box office.

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