With the world, literally, at his feet, classical ballet great David Hallberg graces the stage as a principal dancer for both the American Ballet Theatre and the Bolshoi, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious ballet companies in Russia.
Hallberg’s strength, technique, and passion for the art has made him a valued cultural attaché. Yet, the first American ever to be chosen as principal dancer for the Bolshoi, will debut his talents in directing genius, not dancing, at the inaugural premier of Festival of the Desert on March 18 at Sunnylands Center and Gardens in Rancho Mirage.
• See related story: Festival of the Desert Makes Debut at Sunnylands
The Coachella Valley awaits its introduction to a forum featuring internationally renowned musicians, artists, chefs, speakers, and dancers.
Palm Springs Life spoke with Hallberg as he prepared for his arrival in the desert.
How does it feel to have been chosen as the first American principle for Bolshoi?
“Inevitably, I feel a sense of responsibility. I’m proud to represent America. I think Americans in classical ballet haven’t always gotten the deserved recognition as much as the Russians or the French. So I believe it is a bold statement for Bolsoi to bring me in, but it’s a testament that art has no barrier or border.”
With your busy schedule and dance commitments, are you ready to artistically direct and curate?
“I’m still a dancer but it’s nice to utilize and present what I think is worthy art. I have learned so much in my career dancing with different companies, traveling the world, experiencing each culture, and learning the history of each theatre. It’s a natural transition for many artists to take one’s experiences and put it into something to share.”
Can you share what you will be presenting?
“I’ve chosen to feature two of the most important ballerinas of our generation. Maria Kowroski is dancing to well known Balanchine choreography, and Veronika Part will dance a more modern piece with choreography by Lar Lubovich. I want to show the audience the pure beauty of these two gorgeous ballerinas with a ballet repertoire that will showcase them exquisitely. Presenting both a classic ballet piece in contrast to a more modern arrangement will show different expressions within this art form. I’m an enormous advocate for artists to take their talent in all directions.”
Will you perform as well?
“No, just art directing. They’ll see a different side of me.”
As Dance Director for Festival of the Desert, how is it collaborating with such a powerhouse of Founding Curators?
“It hasn’t been totally collaborative. What we are presenting is very separate. I have curated a dance teaser, presenting the best dancers and repertoire for the art of ballet. But to be there with Renee Fleming and Phillipe Jordan, and people I know in their respective fields creating such high quality art, it can only feed my own knowledge. It will be an experience for myself as well.”
You have created a dance “teaser” for the festival’s one-day preview event. What do you envision for the future?
“I want the Palm Springs area and Southern California to experience extremely high quality art in various disciplines. Festival of the Desert is unique in bringing many art forms together while offering the audience unbelievably high quality performances.”
Festival of the Desert, March 18, at Sunnylands Center & Gardens, 37977 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, 212-994-3524; www.festivalofthedesert.org