School Buzz: Ballet On Campus
Ballet On Campus
Many colleges lack ballet-oriented dance departments. So these two new student-run companies took it upon themselves to provide outlets for brainy ballet dancers.
Columbia Ballet Collaborative: In the summer of 2007, five Columbia University students met at a diner to talk about how much they missed their mutual passion: ballet. A few hours later, the Columbia Ballet Collaborative was born. Since then, the group has swelled to include more than 25 dancers, and this spring its members will perform at Columbia’s Miller Theatre. Although much of the choreography will be by students—which was one of the founders’ goals—the program will also include a duet by New York City Ballet dancers Justin Peck and Teresa Reichlen. And the group’s members, many of whom have worked professionally, boast pretty impressive resumés themselves.
Princeton University Ballet: Princeton has several dance companies, but for a long time, none felt like a natural home for ballet students. Last spring, a small group of ballet enthusiasts, missing their pointe shoes, filled that hole: They created the Princeton University Ballet. Now the troupe includes 16 girls and 2 boys, and this spring it will present its first formal concert. Student choreography will make up most of the program, but the production will also include the classical Swan Lake pas de trois, as well as a piece choreographed by Mary Barton of the American Repertory Ballet School.
youngARTS Presidential Scholar Finalists
The youngARTS program, a part of National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, announced its list of finalists, made up of the nation’s most talented high school seniors in nine different artistic disciplines. Approximately 6,000 to 8,000 students register for youngARTS each year. The finalists are brought to Miami for youngARTS Week to participate in master classes and showcase performances. This year’s dance finalists were:
Chelsea Adomaitis, Vashon, WA; Ernest Baker II, Opa-Locka, FL; Ryan Casey, Lexington, MA; Jeniffer Criss, Dallas, TX; Jeffrey Cirio, Winter Park, FL (see p. 56 in DS’ 2008 March issue); Sarah Clark, Monroe, MI; John Crowley, Ballston Lake, NY; Hannah Darrah, Durham, NC; Meghan Fluker, Dallas, TX; Vidya Govind-Thomas, Schaumburg, IL; Kayla Harley, Bowi, MD; Cecily Khuner, Berkeley, CA; Daniel Mitra, Woodstock Valley, CT; Sara Murawski, Chesapeake, VA (2007 DS Cover Model Search Finalist!); Raymond Pinto, Bridgeport, CT; Olivia Rehrman, Mckinney, TX; Dylan Tedaldi, Newton, MA (see p. 128 in DS’ 2008 July/August issue); Meena Thatikunta, Cincinnati, OH; Frederick Thomas, Cedar Hill, TX; Nathanial Trasoras, Downey, CA; Ayla Weisz, Miami, FL —Brianne Carlon
ABT II Welcomes Two Newbies
Congratulations to Colby Parsons and Alberto Velázquez, the newest members of American Ballet Theatre II! The former students of ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School were accepted into the second company this January. Nineteen-year-old Colby, a finalist at the 2007 New York Youth America Grand Prix, studied at Debbie Allen Dance Academy and The Rock School for Dance Education before joining the JKO School in 2007. Eighteen-year-old Alberto began dancing in his native Cuba and continued in Mexico and at Florida’s The Harid Conservatory, picking up the 2006 YAGP gold medal in pas de deux along the way, before landing at the JKO School in 2008. Look for both boys onstage with ABT II this April in NYC and Orono, ME.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.