Choreographer: Salvatore Aiello
Music: Malcolm Arnold
Costumes: Doreen MacDonald
Lighting: After Nicholas Cernovich
World Premiere: 1979
PBT Performance Date: August 1999
Program Notes (August 1999)
By Carol Meeder, former Director of Arts Education
Salvatore Aiello’s Journey is a rare kind of ballet because its cast is made up entirely of men. There was a time, in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, when male dancers were largely viewed as supports whose role was to show off their female partners. While that attitude certainly no longer prevails, as evidenced by the wide array of substantial male roles, all-male ballets such as Journey are still exceedingly rare.
Salvatore Aiello was born on February 26, 1944 in Herkimer, New York. He began his dance career in 1963 with the Joffrey Ballet and later danced with the Harkness Ballet, the Eglevsky Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Aiello served as Associate Director of the RWB from 1978 to 1979, when he became Associate Director and Resident Choreographer of the North Carolina Dance Theatre. Six years later, he was appointed Artistic Director and remained there until his death in 1995.
Aiello created Journey in 1979 for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Manitoba, Canada to showcase the company’s male dancers. The ballet pays tribute to the strength and agility that male dancers are required to possess. Aiello’s choreography emphasizes that ballet is an art form that demands not only grace and musicality, but also great athleticism and energy.
Set to the Concerto for Organ and Orchestra, Opus 47, by Malcolm Arnold, Journey depicts 12 men who embark on both a physical and spiritual journey. Aiello used complex shapes and acrobatic patterns throughout the ballet to suggest images of travelling on land, sea and sky. Journey uses no set or elaborate costumes, instead relying on the energetic movements and configurations of the choreography to convey its meaning. Journey also represents a personal transition for Aiello. He created the piece just after ending his performing career and moving into an administrative role. The ballet, which was only Aiello’s third for a professional company, was met with such success and enthusiastic praise that it gave Aiello the courage to continue as a choreographer. By the time of his death, Aiello choreographed nearly 40 ballets, including his critically acclaimed versions of The Rite of Spring, Carmina Burana, The Nutcracker and Coppelia.