Grand Rapids Ballet season starts this weekend. Here’s what is planned. -
The 2022-23 season includes world premieres, fan favorites and free family matinees with accommodations for sensory-sensitive audiences.

The 2022-23 Grand Rapids Ballet kicks off this weekend with three dances. Here, dancers perform "Off the Canvas," inspired by Cy Twombly’s “Baccus” paintings. (Photo provided by Grand Rapids Ballet)

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — This weekend, the Grand Rapids Ballet kicks off its 2022-23 season, a part of the ballet’s 50th anniversary celebration.

The ballet company is starting its new season with a jam-packed weekend including three ballets, one of which is a choreographic world premiere.

“Elemental Movement,” performed Oct. 14-16, includes three ballets: “Elemental Brubeck,” world-premiere “Liar Lear King,” and “Off the Canvas.” Choreography for “Liar Lear King” was created by Dani Rowe and loosely tells the story of William Shakespeare’s “King Lear” set in 1970s New York City.

“This powerhouse trio of works creates a spectacular evening of dance, with something for everyone, and inspiring for all,” said Grand Rapids Ballet Artistic Director James Sofranko in a prepared statement. “I am particularly excited about our collaboration with Satellite Collective for the world premiere of ‘Liar Lear King.’ It was such a treat to have Rowe create this piece specifically for GRB, which also includes a brand new commissioned score and film to accompany the dance.”

“Elemental Brubeck” is a modern dance set to the music of jazz composer Dave Brubeck. The dance features popular 1950s dances. The last work, “Off the Canvas,” was featured in the ballet’s 2021-22 season, with music by Adrian Lim-Klumpes and Antonio Vivaldi. The piece brings to life Cy Twombly’s “Baccus” paintings with ecstatic looping movements.

Along with its normal season performances, Grand Rapids Ballet is bringing back its free family matinee performances. Those events include a demonstration of ballet, audience interaction, a performance from the professional dancers and a chance to meet the dancers.

“The re-introduction of the Family Matinee series is very special to me, as it is so important that all young people are exposed to the arts,” Sofranko said in the statement. “Our hope is that with these free performances, any obstacle for a family with children to attend a performance is eliminated. We want to create a welcoming environment where every family member feels comfortable, and we hope to inspire young people with our performance as well as the joy of interacting with professional dancers.”

Family matinee performances will also be geared toward sensory-sensitive audiences, including lowered volume, the elimination of strobe lighting and a shorter 45–60-minute runtime. Sensory resource backpacks are available upon request, in partnership with the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.

The “Elemental Movement” family matinee is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at the Peter Martin Wege Theatre. While tickets are free, they still need to be reserved by contacting the ballet box offices or visiting its website at

After “Elemental Movement,” the ballet season continues with performances of “The Nutcracker” in December at DeVos Performance Hall. In February, GRB is premiering “Romeo and Juliet” with choreography from Sofranko. Spring 2023 will bring “Jumpstart 2023″ and “Ballet + Broadway” to the ballet stage.

As part of Michigan’s only professional ballet company, Grand Rapids Ballet’s junior company will perform its “Spooktacular” production this month and “Wizard of Oz” this coming March.

Tickets for the 2022-23 season are available now at or by calling the ballet box offices at 616-454-4771.

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