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choreography: James Kudelka

music: Sergei Prokofiev Cinderella Op.87 and Waltz Suite Op. 110

costume design: Sylvain Labelle

original lighting design: Nicholas Cernovitch

World premiere of Désir by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, 1991
BalletMet Columbus premiere, March 12, 1998
These notes compiled by Gerard Charles, BalletMet Columbus, February 1998




For his ballet Désir, James Kudelka has drawn music from both the full ballet Cinderella (Op.87) and the Waltz Suite (Op. 110). The music of Cinderella has often left choreographers and critics perplexed due to its sophistication and cynicism as an accompaniment for a fairy tale. Although using four of the waltzes central to the ballet Cinderella, Kudelka has liberated himself from having to tell the fairy tale thus enabling him to go to the heart of the music. Kudelka delivers a strong and personal interpretation that is uniquely his own and seems to be the only possible visualization of the music. It is as if Prokofiev wrote the music for Désir. Seven couples celebrate their passion and pleasure in this very personal yet dynamic and physically testing work.

Describing himself as a "conscientious observer," Kudelka creates dances that are meditations on the classic themes of love, sex and death. To these themes he adds an uncanny sympathy for ballet and modern dance genres that are woven into choreography that is both refined and expressive.

Désir was created for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal, as the closing ballet on what was to be James Kudelka’s farewell program as resident choreographer of that company. All ballets on the program were by Kudelka and all were to the music of Prokofiev as the event took place in 1991, the centenary of Prokofiev’s birth.

Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times called Désir a "piece to put a dance company on the map. . . [It] is both spectacular and expressive. . . a daring exploration of the art of the pas de deux."

Since its premiere Désir has been performed around the world and has been staged for the Compagnia Nacional de Danza of Mexico, the ballet company of the Grand Théâtre of Geneva, Mr. Kudelka’s own company, the National Ballet of Canada, and The Stuttgart Ballet.

Music Used In Désir



 Waltz Suite Op. 110

I No. 2. In the Palace, (Cinderella)
II No. 5. New Year’s Eve Ball, (War and Peace)
III No. 1. Since we Met, (War and Peace)


IV Act II, no. 36. Duet of the Prince and Cinderella.
V Act I, no. 19. Cinderella’s Departure for the Ball
VI Act III, no 49. Slow Waltz


Nicholas Cernovitch, lighting designer


The American born designer was educated at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he studied color theory and design under Josef Albers, as well as dance, theater and photography. A small, progressive college, Black Mountain also introduced Cernovitch to such contemporary artists as Buckminster Fuller, John Cage and Franz Kline during studies from 1948 through 1952.

Arriving in New York, Cernovitch began lighting and stage managing works for the modern dance companies of Merce Cunningham, Jose Limon, Alwin Nikolais, Anna Sokolow, Paul Taylor and many others. From 1954 to 1964 Cernovitch also designed lighting for numerous off-Broadway plays. Between 1960 and 1962 he designed all the Living Theater in New York and acted in and directed many productions for its Monday Night Series of experimental works.

Cernovitch went on to design all the lighting for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, from its inception in 1958 until 1969. Cernovitch’s other lighting credits for dance include work with The Harkness Ballet; the National Ballet of Washington; the Pennsylvania Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, including Rudolf Nureyev’s production of Raymonda. He has also worked with the Anne Wyman Dance Theatre of Vancouver; The Martha Graham Dance Company’s seasons in New York, London and Copenhagen; Le Groupe de La Place Royale; Judith Marcuse Dance Company; Eddy Toussaint Dance Company; Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal; The National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Winnepeg Ballet.

For theater, Cernovitch has designed the lighting for numerous off-Broadway plays, as well as James Joyce’s Ulysses in Night Town, directed by Burgess Meredith and starring Zero Mostel; the 1962 Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy and the Paris Opera Centenary production of Paul Dukas’ La Peri.

Cernovitch designed the lighting for every production of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens of Montreal since he joined the company as its resident lighting designer in 1970 until his retirement in 1995. Since emigrating to Canada in 1973 he has also created lighting designs for the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg; The Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake; Le Théâtre du Rideau Vert in Montreal; L’Opera du Quebec; several plays both in French and English at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and shows for Yvon Deschamps, Gilles Vigneault and Robert Charlebois.

In 1960, he received the New York City Village Voice Obie Award for lighting design, and for the 1981-82 season the Dora Mavor Moore prize for his exceptional lighting designs.

Sylvain Labelle, costume designer


Since the age of twenty, Sylvain Labelle has conceived costumes for nearly all the dance companies in Montreal as well as many outside. Among those he has worked with include Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, The Joffrey Ballet, Eddy Toussaint Dance Company, La Compania Nacional de Danza in Mexico, Montreal Danse, Helen Blackburn and Tassy Teekman.

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