That said, "Program 8" isn't a huge gamble -- though these choreographers were originally known as dancers, companies have been taking note of their dance-making skills for some time and commissioning them to produce work internationally. Local ballet fans know Adam from her five-year tenure as an SFB principal dancer. Her earliest foray into choreography, The Medium Is the Message, a bluesy piece for three dancers and a couch done for SFB's 1993 Choreographic Workshop, won her a Bravo channel recording and an Isadora Duncan Award; she garnered a second Izzie for 1997's 13 Lullabies and a warm reception for the 2000 piece Night, a kind of shadowy dreamscape. Her latest is an abstract ensemble piece called imaginal disc, inspired by the process of metamorphosis.
Welch, just 34, has metamorphosed quickly from late-blooming student (he started training at 17, a good 10 years later than most pros) to soloist and resident choreographer with his native Australian Ballet to recently named artistic director of Houston Ballet. Widely considered one of the more promising choreographic talents of his generation, Welch brings us Tu Tu, a contemporary 22-dancer piece with classical costumes and technique, set to Ravel. Camille Saint-Saëns' Le Carnaval des Animaux, which London's Ballet Rambert originally offered in 1943 as a Victorian child's introduction to the wild kingdom, gets a makeover here from Ratmansky, a Royal Danish Ballet principal whose previous remakes include a gender-bending Cinderella and a Nutcracker aswirl with malevolent Snowflakes. This Carnaval is transformed by Ratmansky's comic take on how the animals move. Like New York City Ballet fans, who will see a different, new Carnaval this month in Manhattan (choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, another of this era's rising young dance-makers), local dancegoers can hope to remember this program as the night they saw the debut of something great.