Category Archives: Ballet

So You Think You Can Dance on National Dance Day July 25?

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Continuing the tradition of last year’s ground-breaking alliance of the nation’s leading cultural organizations in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., National Dance Day is partnering with Eventbrite to help encourage Americans of all ages to incorporate dance into their lives.

The 6th annual National Dance Day will take place on Saturday, July 25 culminating with the Dizzy Feet Foundation’s Celebration of Dance Gala on August 1st in Los Angeles.  Leading the charge – and the routines – in L.A.  will be Nigel Lythgoe, Co-Creator, Executive Producer and Judge of the hit FOX TV show – “So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD)”. 

The Music Center is also partnering with The Dizzy Feet Foundation for the fourth year in a row to present the all-day, free, West Coast dance extravaganza.  Dancers of all skill levels and ages are invited to join. 

Audiences will have the opportunity to participate and learn repertoire from some of Los Angeles’ best dance companies and enjoy interactive performances by some of the city’s the finest young dance talent including the San Pedro Ballet, which will showcase both its children’s group as well as its more advanced dancers, and also lead a demo at the event. 

In New York, Dancer/Choreographer and SYTYCD Judge Adam Shankman will lead the festivities in front of Lincoln Center’s iconic Revson Fountain, and will also be joined by SYTYCD All Star Alex Wong in teaching dancers of all ages and abilities various dance routines as part of the New York celebration of National Dance Day. 

This year’s celebration in Washington D.C. is in collaboration with the Kennedy Center’s 25/40 Celebration, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 40th anniversary of VSA. A variety of artists will headline the festivities at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, including Baakari Wilder, tap dancer famous for his Broadway role in Bring in da Funk, Bring in da Noise; Antoine Hunter, Deaf African American choreographer; Culture Shock, a D.C. based hip-hop crew; Evan Ruggiero, one-legged tap dancer, singer, and guitarist and AXIS Dance Company, one of the world’s most acclaimed physically integrated companies, along with SYTYCD Season 9 Alumni Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer. More information can be found online at

As its official contribution to NDD, each year DFF produces and distributes instructional videos featuring dance routines for the public to learn. DFF encourages anyone and everyone to learn the routines and perform them on NDD.  DFF also encourages the public to submit videos of themselves performing the routines. Select videos may be included on SYTYCD and can be submitted via DFF’s Facebook page.  This year, DFF partnered with Eventbrite, the largest self—service global registration and events marketplace, to provide a place for anyone to create and promote their own NDD event. Those interested in creating a NDD event can visit Eventbrite to access an official NDD online event template and be featured in the nationwide 2015 NDD events directory. More information on how to become an official National Dance Day event can be found on DFF’s website.

National Dance Day

Celebrated each year on the last Saturday in July, National Dance Day raises awareness about and encourages Americans to embrace dance as a fun, positive way to maintain good health and combat obesity. National Dance Day achieved national recognition when, in 2010, long-time proponent of healthy lifestyles, American congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, introduced a National Dance Day resolution to promote dance education and physical fitness.

Dizzy Feet

The Dizzy Feet Foundation was founded in 2009 by producer Nigel Lythgoe and director Adam Shankman, among others to support, improve, and increase access to dance education in the United States.  The Dizzy Feet Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)3 charitable organization. For more information, go to

Kennedy Center

 The Kennedy Center is the only U.S. institution that presents a free performance 365 days a year. Created in 1997 and underwritten by James A. Johnson and Maxine Isaacs, the Millennium Stage features a broad spectrum of performing arts each day at 6 p.m. The Millennium Stage has hosted artists representing all 50 states, and has presented more than 15,000 artists in their Kennedy Center debuts. Since 1999, each night’s performance has been broadcast live over the Internet, and more than 4,430 of these performances have been digitally archived on the Kennedy Center’s website,

Ellison Ballet Celebrates 10 Years at Symphony Space NYC

Carlos-Stafford-Main-1254709434Reviewed by Carlos Stafford, The Model Critic

Ellison Ballet

Year after year since its inception, the Ellison Ballet of New York has been on a upward trajectory.

May 15th and 16th performances clearly show a dynamic company that gets more and more professional on each outing, charming audiences with full-throttle energy, athleticism, and commitment.

As usual, the program highlights some of the fine moments from the classical repertory, and spiced this year with a few winning additions like Bournonville colorful and playful, Jockey Dance, staged crisply by Karina Elver, and the wild and breathtaking Khachaturian Waltz, that utilized the entire cast in a swirling gauzy delight.

But the bulk of the program was culled from a Giselle variation, Don Q, La Esmeralda, Flames of Paris, Paquita, and the like, and were uniformly performed with great energy, technical skill, and heart. From the outset, the dancers were well rehearsed and full of bright and clear talent.

A few dances stood out for their depth, quality, and astonishing delivery. Grand Pas Classique Pas De Deux, with the remarkable talented Juliette Bosco (even more noteworthy, is only 12), electrified, along with her able partner Theophilus Pilette. Bosco also displayed her considerable talents earlier in the progam in charming Harlequinade. The most striking feature about this young performer is her obvious stunning maturity and abundant confidence she brings to her roles. She possesses a dignity in her gaze, and a surity in her movements that is easily seen, and to be applauded. Pilette was a wonderful partner, who performed with a manly presence, and stuck the right balance in this very dramatic and exciting piece.

Carmen, staged by Ellison, to Bizet’s famous score was nothing if not a heart-thumping sexy, well-performed delight. Emily Neale was great fun as the strong-willed Carmen who takes what she wants and scorns the weak dogs who fall into her spell–a woman a man can’t resist, but nonetheless want to possess at their own peril. August Athuru Generalli danced Don Jose with an fine arc of development from stately military control, to broken man with superb clarity. Neale was truly outstanding in her gorgeous presence and seductiveness, and the two crackled the stage with their dangerous dance of death. The costumes, swirling caps, Escamillo (Kevin Zong), soldiers, and the huge cast of gypsies electrified the stage with fiery energy.

Ellison Ballet is the best they’ve ever been. The training and performance level is more and more professional, and it was a joy to see this great development through the years. We wish them all congratulations for a fine ten years, and best wishes to all these fine students, their developing careers, and to all the quality teaching offered at the school.

Inland Pacific Ballet presents Beauty and the Beast

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Beauty and the Beast Inland Pacific Ballet

Inland Pacific Ballet brings to life an authentic production of Beauty and the Beast.  Structured closer to the classic 1756 French fairytale La Belle et la Bête by French novelist Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, rather than mimicking its modern Disney musical counterpart, it is a delightfully, uncomplicated, much more adult and truer narrative.  

In its original 18th century form, Beauty and the Beast was actually a primer for young ladies facing the perils of marriage.  Your husband might seem to be a beast to you but it was your job to find something to like about him. “We’ve come a long way since then…” commented founder/directed Victoria Koenig in a pre-show jest, which garnered an instantaneous house-wide giggle.  But really in its essence the story of Beauty and the Beast, as an instructional or otherwise, universally speaks to our better selves and our willingness to look past surface and find the inner beauty of another person; in Beauty’s case, love and a fairytale marriage.

Opening a bit like a town hall meeting, the show was introduced by Arcadia’s mayor, followed by an unexpected mini-history lesson of the tale and of the ballet. In and of itself the ballet Beauty and the Beast is a rather modern creation, with a strung together musical score by composers, Shostakovich, Komzak, Dvorak, Chapi, Mendelssohn, Khachaturian, Grieg, Massenet, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Paine, and Glazunov, which although did not evince a particularly strong denouement did seamlessly and quite beautifully lead the ballet.  The first several minutes were devoted to an expressive and perfect balletic mime demonstration by dance veteran Jonathan Sharp who exampled the “language” of story ballet.

A mostly young company of dancers including some very adorable spindly fairies and roses there were initially some rough patches.  Many of the girls couldn’t keep their footing on the slippery floor.  By the second act however, the choreography and the comfort level for the performers ramped up for a gorgeous finish when by Beauty’s love the Beast turns into a Prince played by Cameron Schwanz, a sophisticated “cut above” talent for local stage, and ‘princely’ by all means. I personally shouted a Bravo, from the 5th row for his incredible technique, presentational skill and for giving Beauty (Meilu Zhai) the best part of himself as a partner, allowing her to thoroughly shine during the wedding scene finale.

There are no dancing tea cups but there are wolves, fairies and knomes aplenty. Suited for adults and children of all ages.  There are two more performances taking place in Riverside, CA today:

Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501
Box Office: (951) 779-9800

Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 2:00 pm & 7:30 pm

Information & Tickets:; tickets from $34 with senior/child/group discounts available

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Inland Pacific Ballet Celebrates It’s 20th Season with Beauty and the Beast

An Encore adaptation of this breathtaking fairy tale ballet.

Southern California’s premiere professional ballet company, Inland Pacific Ballet (IPB), celebrating its 20th season, presents Beauty and the Beast, a full-length ballet based on the time honored fairy tale with 10 performances taking place from April 25 through May 16, 2015 in theaters within the San Gabriel Valley and the Inland Empire.

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A creative interpretation of this universal story of inner beauty, IPB’s encore presentation promises a visual feast full of romance and drama. Stunning sets, brilliant dancing, gorgeous costumes and a stirring musical score that will transport audiences to an enchanted fairy tale world filled with fanciful characters, a charming village, an enchanted forest and the Beast’s magnificent castle, all vividly illustrating the drama and romance of this beloved story and the transformative power of love.

Beauty, a young girl pure of heart, living at the edge of a mystical forest, when her father is accosted by a mysterious Beast after picking a single white rose from the Beast’s beloved garden. Imbued with magical powers, the rose is passed between Beauty, her father and the Beast, as Beauty offers herself in exchange for her father’s freedom, beginning a journey of love and transformation for both herself and the Beast.


For choreographer Clinton Rothwell, the white rose represents both Beauty’s pure heart and the transformation that takes place in the story.

“Prompted by the tremendous response Beauty and the Beast received last season, we are thrilled to once again be bringing this beautiful ballet to southern California audiences, and for the first time, to the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside,” states Victoria Koenig, Artistic Director.

“Nothing quite compares with the magic and grandeur of a big, fully produced ballet, especially one with such a captivating story. With rehearsals already underway and our dancers in top form, we are seeing Beauty and the Beast come back to life. We are especially excited to be presenting our exquisite ballerina, Meilu Zhai, in her debut as Beauty.  Meilu’s special qualities of delicacy, inner strength, impeccable technique and utter charm make her irresistible in this role.”

The cast features brilliant young talent from southern California. IPB is delighted to have principal dancers Cameron Schwanz again dancing the role of the Beast, and Meilu Zhai, formerly with the National Ballet of China as Beauty.  Jonathan Sharp also returns in the role of Beauty’s Father.

The musical score for Beauty and the Beast was created by company choreographer Rothwell as a “sound collage” featuring compositions from many of the great classical composers such as Dimitri Shostakovich, Antonin Dvorak, Felix Mendelssohn, Jules Massenet, Sergei Prokofiev, Pytor Illyich Tchaikovsky, and Alexandor Glazounov.

“Ballet is an extension of sound to me, it’s moving sculpture, but it has to go with the music. Everything has to fit together,” says choreographer Rothwell.

Award-winning set designer and scenic artist Daniel C. Nyiri designed the village, forest, garden and castle scenes that serve as backdrops for the jewel-toned costumes by designer Jeanne Nolden. Special masks for the Beast and a pack of menacing wolves were created by Bonnie Sinclair, who worked for many years with Maurice Sendak on projects including Where the Wild Things Are.

Tickets, start at $34 with senior/child/group discounts available online at

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Critically acclaimed Inland Pacific Ballet, enjoying its 20th season, is a professional ballet company of national stature in the Inland Empire of Southern California. The Company is committed to producing exquisitely staged productions of full-length classic story ballets as well as presenting the best in contemporary choreography. Their large studio facility in Montclair also includes in-house costume and scenic departments. In addition, through creative marketing and an extensive Educational Outreach Program, Inland Pacific Ballet strives to introduce new audiences to the magic of ballet, and to make the experience more available and accessible to all. For more information visit their website.

Victoria Koenig, Artistic Director
Clinton Rothwell, Choreographer, Sound Collage Designer
Daniel C. Nyiri, Scenic Design
Jeanne Nolden, Costume Design
Bonnie Sinclair, Mask Design
Cameron Schwanz, Beast
Meilu Zhai, Beauty
Jonathan Sharp, Beauty’s Father


Saturday, April 25, 2015 – 1:00pm and 7:00pm
Sunday, April 26, 2015 1:00pm
Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College, 450 N. College Way, Claremont, CA 91711
Box Office: (909) 607-1139

Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 1:00 & 7:00 pm
Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm
Lewis Family Playhouse, Victoria Gardens Cultural Center,
12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Box Office: (909) 477-2752

Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Arcadia Performing Arts Center, 188 Campus Drive, Arcadia, CA 91007
Box Office: (626) 821-1781

Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 2:00 pm & 7:30 pm
Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501
Box Office: (951) 779-9800

Information & Tickets:
; tickets from $34 with senior/child/group discounts available


No Magic at the Mariinsky for Cinderella

by Carlos Stafford, The Model Critic

Mariinsky Ballet, Cinderella

I imagined I was eight years old. I’m at Disneyland and it starts to rain. All the rides are closed except It’s A Small World. No Haunted House, no Pirates of the Caribbean, no Frontier Land, or Tomorrowland.  Mickey and Minnie are running around drenched looking for cover.

That’s about as much fun as I had with Alex Ratmansky’s Cinderella, Act 1. From great anticipation to this chilly interpretation of Cinderella.  No fun, no magic, no humor I could recognize. In this production, the evil stepsisters are actually attractive, well dressed, and are mostly graceful, except for when the dance teachers arrive, and they indicate akwardness here and there; however subtle the distinctions. Cinderella’s father is a drunk who stumbles home and asks Cinderella for money. I never knew young Cinderella, being a slave to her sisters, had a stash of money in a cookie jar. Then there is the problem of the indefinite gender of the four magical fairies representing the seasons; four men dressed in colorful cutout leotards with midriffs and various bandeau tops. Where the evil stepsisters are usually portrayed by men, and are funny, Ratmansky chooses to make the fairies cross-dressing creatures without humor. Tepid applause.

But the Mariinsky is one of the most famous, as well as oldest ballet companies in the world, and after 250 years they know a thing or two on how to put on a production. This Cinderella must be an exception, however, as it apparently comes under the heading of “perspectivism.”

Gratefully, they begin to redeem themselves in Act 11 as Ratmansky dazzles with the highlight of the evening–an exquisite pas de deux between the Prince and Cinderella at the Ball, danced with liquid energy by Nadezhda Batoeva and Vladimir Shklyarov. I at once thought of Fredrick Ashton’s balcony scene from Romeo and Julliet, with the similar evocative and soaring romantic music, and passionate choreography. It was splendidly done. Then once again later, the couple dance in the final act, reunited at last, as choreography, dancers, and music become an exceptional and glorious unity.

Ratmansky’s greatest ability is how he fluidly moves his dancers through space with surprising ideas, and musicality. The movements evenly connect and reconnect in brilliant patterns that are full of substance and delight.

But overall, the problem with this Cinderella is not in the choreography, the steps, the surprising and flowing transitions nor especially, the scintilating dancers with their always remarkablable beauty and technique–we’ve grown to expect this high quality. Rather, the  problem lies in the artistic direction. Being a narrative ballet, you’d expect a good story. Here, Act 1 is awful, Act 11 soars, and Act 111 is very mixed.  You get the impression that the story was an afterthought to the choreography, that humor was barely considered, that the acts don’t link up.

For all the world class talent onstage and in the pit, the overall affect was unevenness. For instance, when the Prince searches the world for a foot to fit the glass slipper, we have the dullest section immaginable. This is a blarring artistic opportunity to display fun, wonder, and lightness, to take the audience on a wondrous journey. But what we get again is another deflating transvaluaton. We are shown the Prince finding a group of women–who knows from where or representing what–oblique, probably hookers. Not much chance for a proper fitting here. Next stop, we encounter seven guys dressed in blue and black. They pummell the Prince and clearly don’t fit the slipper, or care–are they nasty gay thugs from Marseille with a shoe fetish? Or, are they merely emblematic of life’s negative forces? This part of the story was very strange and incomplete.

Sadly, these two meager stops represent the Prince’s entire search.  Dramatically, it should be a fun interlude for the audience before his final ecstatic discovery. Like Candide, what the Prince finds in his brief travel is bleak and cold. I guess this could be someone’s  joyless intepretation, but this sober, obscure, and disspirited meaning seems totally inappropriate in dance, perhaps not in literature–it leaches out any form of revelation or elevation to the fairy tale that occurs only moments later,  and lessens the joy of his return and final union.

Not until, that is, the last pas de deux that salvages the performance with its abundant life force; again magnificently performed by the two exceptional principals. This was the fireworks, this was the glory.

But as for the Prince, at that point, he could’ve have settled for a stepsister.

BAM and the MARIINSKY BALLET present

at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Howard Gillman Opera House

Music by Sergei Prokofiev
Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky
Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
Musical direction by Valery Gergiev
Conducted by Valery Gergiev

Principal casting*:

Diana Vishneva/Konstantin Zverev/Yekaterina Kondaurova (Jan 17), Anastasia Matvienko/Alexander Sergeyev/Anastasia Petushkova (Jan 18),
Nadezhda Batoeva, Vladimir Shklyarov, Ekaterina Kondaurova (Jan 20)


Wendy Whelan Joins NYC Ballet Academy East Faculty


Ballet Academy Easis proud to announce that Wendy Whelan will join the Pre-Professional Division Faculty.  Ms. Whalen’s tenure will begin with Ballet Academy East’s Summer Intensive from August 18-29 and will continue through the school year, which begins on September 16, 2014.  Ms. Whalen will primarily teach the upper level students of the Pre-Professional Division.

Wendy Whelan was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, where at the age of three she began taking dance classes with Virginia Wooton, a local teacher. At age eight she performed as a mouse with the Louisville Ballet in its annual production of The Nutcracker. Joining the Louisville Ballet Academy that year, she began intense professional training.

In 1981 she received a scholarship to the summer course at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet and a year later she moved to New York to become a full-time student there. She was invited to become a member of the New York City Ballet corps de ballet in 1986 and was promoted to principal dancer in 1991.

Whelan has performed a wide spectrum of the Balanchine repertory and worked closely with Jerome Robbins on many of his ballets. She has originated featured roles in 13 ballets for Christopher Wheeldon, as well as in the ballets of William Forsythe, Alexei Ratmansky, Wayne McGregor, Jorma Elo, Shen Wei, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp. In 2007, Whelan was nominated for an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Award for her performances with Morphoses/Wheeldon Company.

She has been a guest artist with The Royal Ballet and with the Kirov Ballet. She received the 2007 Dance Magazine Award, and in 2009 was given a Doctorate of Arts, honoris causa, from Bellarmine University. In 2011, she was honored with both The Jerome Robbins Award and a Bessie Award for her Sustained Achievement in Performance.



In 2012, Whelan began developing new collaborative projects. Her inaugural project, Restless Creature, which premiered at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in August of 2013, is a suite of four duets, created by and danced with four of todays most cutting edge contemporary dancer/choreographers, Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks and Alejandro Cerrudo. Restless Creature will travel to London and Vail in 2014 and will tour in the US starting in January 2015.  Whelan was recently appointed an Artistic Associate at New York’s City Center and for two years beginning November 1, 2014, City Center will be her home for developing future projects.  She resides in New York City with her husband, the artist David Michalek.

About Ballet Academy East

Ballet Academy East trains dancers for professional careers in ballet. The faculty is led by artistic director Darla Hoover and includes Maxim Beloserkovsky, Cynthia Birdwell, Olga Dvorovenko, Peter Frame, Jenna Lavin, Joseph Malbrough, Tara Mora, Francis Patrelle, Elizabeth Walker and Cheryl Yeager. The comprehensive syllabus was created by Darla Hoover and is designed to develop technically strong, expressive ballet dancers, who ultimately can adapt to any style. The curriculum includes technique classes, pointe, partnering, variations, stretch, men’s weight training, modern, and character. Performing opportunities include two annual productions: the Studio Showing in February and the Spring Performance in May. The director and founder of Ballet Academy East is Julia Dubno.

For more information, visit

Alessandra Ferri Stars in the U.S. Premiere of The Raven in NYC May 28-31

THE-RAVEN-Photo-by-Richard-Termine,-Photographed_Filmed-at-New-42nd-Street-Studios---RTRH4C0174A-copyGotham Chamber Opera, in collaboration with the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, presents the U.S. Premiere of The Raven as part of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, on May 28, 2014 at 7:30pm and May 30 and 31, 2014 at 8pm, at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, 524 West 59th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues), New York City.

The Raven will star Fredrika Brillembourg in the role of the Narrator and will be danced by Alessandra Ferri, former prima ballerina assoluta with the Royal Ballet (1980–1984), American Ballet Theatre (1985–2007) and La Scala Theatre Ballet (1992–2007).

Tickets are $30-$175 and will be available at or 212-279-4200. For more information visit

Based on the narrative poem by Edgar Allan Poe, with music by Toshio Hosokawa, The Raven tells the story of a man visited by a raven after the death of his lover. To all the questions the man asks, the raven only answers, ‘nevermore’. After drifting through states of different emotions, the narrator, still burdened with the loss of his beloved, finally lays down in the raven’s shadow, his soul trapped and lifted ‘nevermore’.


The creative team for The Raven consists of Neal Goren, conductor; Luca Veggetti, stage director/choreographer; Clifton Taylor, scenic and lighting designer; and Peter Speliopoulos, costume designer.

The program also includes “Conte fantastique: Le Masque de la Mort rouge”(d’après une des Histoires extraordinaires d’Edgar Poë), by André Caplet.

Gotham Chamber Opera, now in its twelfth season, is the nation’s leading opera company dedicated to vibrant, fully staged productions of works intended for intimate venues. Its high quality presentations of small-scale rarities from the Baroque era to the present have earned Gotham an international reputation and unanimous critical praise. For more information, visit

NY PHIL BIENNIAL is a kaleidoscopic exploration of today’s music showcasing an array of curatorial voices through concerts presented with cultural partners throughout New York City. Modeled on the great visual art biennials, the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL, taking place May 28–June 7, 2014, brings the public together with a diverse roster of more than 50 composers, ranging from elementary school students to icons, for concerts of symphonies, concertos, staged opera, chamber music, and solo works, many of which will be premieres. Meet-up events, lectures and panel discussions, and online interactivity are planned to encourage audience members to directly engage with composers, scholars, and artists. The 2014 NY PHIL BIENNIAL partners include 92nd Street Y, The Museum of Modern Art, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Juilliard School, Gotham Chamber Opera, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Bang on a Can, American Composers Orchestra, and Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School High School.