Dancer to Dancer

After most dancers graduate from The School of American Ballet they have lots of "firsts": first company contract, first performance with that company, and maybe even first solo role. But 2017 SAB grad Gianna Reisen is experiencing a different kind of "first" during her inaugural year in the professional ballet world: She's making her first choreographic debut at Lincoln Center. At just 18, Gianna Reisen is the youngest person ever to create a piece for the renowned New York City Ballet (NBD!). Her new work, Composer's Holiday, set to music by Lukas Foss, will premiere at the company's fall gala on September 28th.

Reisen impressed NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins with the ballets she made for SAB's Student Choreography Workshop and The New York Choreographic Institute, prompting Martins to invite her to create a piece for the main company. And though the pressure of such a proposal would intimidate even the most seasoned choreographer, Reisen's pragmatic poise about the whole thing assures us that she's up to the task.

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Dancer to Dancer

Brittney in class (by Rosalie O'Connor)

It’s impossible to look at Brittney Feit and not see a ballerina. Even as she walks down the street, her long neck and perfect posture immediately give her away. But what’s getting her noticed at Tulsa Ballet is much more than a look: it’s her impeccable artistry, technical ability and work ethic in the studio and onstage.

Born in NYC, Brittney fell in love with the artistic side of ballet at 11 when she began studying at the Lumière Ballet School in Long Island, NY. There, she was given many chances to perform and focus on her movement quality, acting and stage presence. “As I got older, though, I saw the need to work intensely on my technique,” Brittney says. At 16, she auditioned for and got into the Ellison Ballet Professional Training Program. Three “boot-camp–like” years later she graduated and landed a spot in Tulsa Ballet II. She documented her second year in TBII for Dance Spirit. —Kate Lydon

August 1, 2011

Today is the first day of my second year with TBII, and I’m excited that four other Ellison Ballet Professional Training Program graduates are joining the second company. TBII has its own repertoire, and we also learn roles for company productions. Last year we had three second-company classes per week and company class the rest of the time. This year, I hear we’ll take company class more often and be cast in even more productions.

With Jose Antonio Checa Romero dancing “Somethin’ Stupid” in Twyla Tharp’s "Nine Sinatra Songs" (by Rosalie O'Connor)

September 16, 2011

Right now, the second company is working with the main company on Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow. I’m thrilled to be dancing a different role in every act.

October 27, 2011

The main company’s season is in full swing. This evening, I performed in William Forsythe’s In the middle, somewhat elevated, and it was amazing! Of course, my favorite parts are my solo and pas de deux. The off-balance work makes me feel free and powerful. This weekend, I’ll perform the “Somethin’ Stupid” duet from Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs. It’s a funny piece, in which two lovers try to dance in sync, but keep coming up short. My partner, Jose Antonio Checa Romero, and I

are having a good time with it.

December 12, 2011

Nutcracker time! Last year, I understudied the principal role of adult Marie, and this year, I was given a performance—I couldn’t believe it! There’s a moment in the snow scene when four boys lift me above their heads—when I saw the snow falling and the company all around me, it felt like a dream.

As adult Marie in "The Nutcracker" with Claudio Cocino (by Julie Shelton)

February 5, 2012 

Right now, Edwaard Liang is choreographing a brand-new Romeo and Juliet for Tulsa Ballet—his first full-length! The whole second company is involved in the production.

March 15, 2012

Today I signed my apprentice contract with Tulsa Ballet! The company manager gave

me a big smile as she handed it to me, since she knew I’d been hoping for that moment. I was one of four TBII dancers to be asked to join, and we’re all so excited! We’ll officially move up into the company in July.  

April 17, 2012 

I’m on tour with TBII in Oklahoma City. I love that TBII does so much traveling and dancing for new audiences.

Today, we’ll perform our outreach program, Journey Through Dance, for high school students. It’s fun to dance for little children, because they never hold back their reactions!  

Brittney preparing to perform Darrell Grand Moultrie’s "Box the Outside" (by Julie Shelton)

May 2, 2012

Our season is coming to a close with one of the most exciting performances, Off the Floor: Creations in Studio K. Every year, three choreographers work with us to create three world premieres. Tonight I’ll be dancing in Darrell Grand Moultrie’s piece, Box the Outside. It’s happy and playful, which is refreshing. I was an understudy, but I stepped in during a preview for some of our patrons and for a few rehearsals while the dancer I was covering was injured. Now we’re sharing the role, and I’ll get to perform it six times this week! On the day I went in during the preview, Darrell announced that he has been in this business a long time, but doesn’t see a lot of people jump in as an understudy the way I did. The audience and the company applauded, and it confirmed what I already know and hold dear: Hard work pays off.

By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be an apprentice with Tulsa Ballet!

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