The Lesson, a dark one-act ballet from 1963 based on Eugene Ionesco's play, replaces Roland Petit's Le Jeune Homme et le Mort.
Alina Cojocaru, who appeared in the The Lesson with the Royal Ballet last fall, will star as an eager ballet student; Angel Corella of American Ballet Theatre, Johan Kobborg of the Royal Ballet, Ethan Stiefel of American Ballet Theatre, and Nikolay Tsiskaridze of the Bolshoi Ballet—the eponymous "kings"—will alternate in the role of her sadistic teacher (a role that Kobborg danced in London).
Initially, the four dancers were to alternate in Le Jeune Homme et le Mort opposite Kirov Ballet star Diana Vishneva. Vishneva dropped out last week and was replaced by Tamiyo Kusakari, a principal dancer with Japan's Asami Maki Ballet.
The Petit work (and Kusakari) have now been dropped altogether in favor of The Lesson, which caused a stir when it opened the Royal Ballet's season.
"Kings of the Dance" also includes a new work for all four dancers by Christopher Wheeldon, solo works created for each of them, and repertory staples.
It will be seen February 16-19 at OPAC's Segerstrom Hall and February 23-26 at City Center.