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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Arts and Education
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

School of American Ballet Workshop Performance

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 31, 2003
New York, NY

About the Author:

School of American Ballet Workshop Performance


Chairman of Faculty, Peter Martins
Press and Public Relations: Amy Bordy

Conducted by Richard Moredock
at Juilliard Theater
Lincoln Center, NYC, NY

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 31, 2003

This was truly a lovely event. The students of the School of American Ballet (See SAB Tour), including many current members of Professional Children's School (See PCS Tour), performed at Juilliard Theater in scintillating style, on a cold and rainy Saturday night, to a packed auditorium of proud relatives, teachers, and guests. This could easily have been a presentation of a professional ballet company, with so many outstanding dancers and renowned choreographers in collaboration. Advanced SAB students have been presented in workshop Performances for four decades. This was my second experience with SAB, following my recent visit, and I am incredibly impressed. The program concentrated on four choreographers who were most admired by George Balanchine: Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, August Bournonville, and Michel Fokine, whose great grandson, Nicholas Fokine performed tonight as a page in Sleeping Beauty.

Chopiniana (1972): Music by Frédéric Chopin, Choreography by Michel Fokine, Staged by Cynthia Gregory, Piano: Whit Kellogg, Performed by Likolani Brown, Lauren King, Sara Mearns, Tyler Angle, Elisabeth Holowchuk, Elysia Lichtine, and Cast. This piece was first performed in 1972 by New York City Ballet as an adaptation of Les Sylphides, with original orchestral music changed to a solo piano, and long tulle dresses and woodland sets changes to practice clothes and blue backdrop. The female soloists mentioned above were familiar from my visit to Suki Schorer's lovely advanced ballet class at SAB, and Tyler Angle is a PCS student and a future apprentice at NYCB. Whit Kellogg provided the classic Chopin mood, as these sensationally skilled, SAB advanced students performed a Nocturne, three Valses, a Mazurka, and a Prelude. I had the privilege of seeing many of these students in my SAB tour and distinctly remembered Laura King, Likolani Brown, and Sara Mearns. Tyler Angle is the brother of Jared Angle of NYC Ballet and has the same electrifying skills en air and onstage. With triple leg kicks, tremendous flexibility, and spring-like jumps, Tyler Angle has a bright future. The entire cast was superb, and Sara Mearns, winner of the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Promise, is another young dancer to watch, with elegance and elasticity. Likolani Brown and Lauren King danced with seeming effortlessness, which requires tremendous technical practice, and the entire SAB ensemble expertly showcased Ms. Gregory's staging. It was wonderful to see Cynthia Gregory onstage once again, as she received flowers at curtain call. Ms. Gregory was an ABT Principal from 1967 to 1991.

The Flower Festival at Genzano (Pas de Deux)(1968): Music by Edvard Helsted, Choreography by August Bournonville, Staged by Nikolaj Hübbe, Performed by Barette Vance and Arron Scott. Nikolaj Hübbe is a Principal with NYC Ballet, and this is his third staging of this work, which was first staged by Stanley Williams, formerly of SAB. Ms. Vance was coy and endearing, with speed and spirit. Mr. Scott brought the audience to prolonged applause with his affectionate persona and virtuosic technique. This duo did not miss a beat, as Mr. Moredock's professionally formed orchestra accompanied with carefully blended instrumentation of an unusual score.

Swan Lake (Pas de Deux from Act II) (Excerpts from Swan Lake originally staged by Alexandra Danilova, 1966-80): Choreography by George Balanchine, after Lev Ivanov, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Staged by Sean Lavery, Performed by Likolani Brown and Ted Seymour. Likolani Brown has a pixie-like presence that masters stage and audience with charisma and characterization. Her limbs were swan-like, and her classical technique was stylized, with pathos and vulnerability. Mr. Seymour, a last minute substitute, was exuberant and well suited to partnering in such a demanding role.

Napoli (Ballabile from Act I) (Original Staging): Choreography by August Bournonville, Music by H.S. Paulli, Staged by Nikolaj Hübbe, Performed by Monique Rojas, Daniel Applebaum, and Full Cast. Mr. Applebaum was buoyant and full of youthful bravura, as this peasant dance unfolded. Ms. Rojas, the quintessential peasant girl in spring, lead this cast of pastel confection, in knickers and aprons, with aplomb.

The Sleeping Beauty (Aurora's Wedding) (1991): Choreography by Peter Martins after Marius Petipa, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Staged by Sean Lavery with Jean-Pierre Frohlich, Russell Kaiser, Katrina Killian, and Garielle Whittle, Costumes by Patricia Zipprodt, Performed by Ana Sophia Scheller as Princess Aurora, Tyler Angle as Prince Désiré, Sara Mearns as The Lilac Fairy, Olivia Goodrich and Vincent Paradiso as The Bluebirds, Miriam Rowan and Jason Chinea as The White Cat and Puss in Boots, and a Full Cast of Characters/Dancers. This is the wedding scene in the Great Hall of King Florestan's castle, as King Florestan and The Queen declare that the young couple succeeds them on the throne.

What could be more beautiful than a wedding scene of animals and cherubs, bluebirds and Red Riding Hood, and a King, Queen, Princess, and Prince? With costumes borrowed from NYC Ballet, we were treated to a tantalizing White Cat and Puss in Boots, two virtuosic Bluebirds, an adorable Red Riding Hood, who was chased through tiny human trees by a wicked Wolf, and a Lilac Fairy, Sara Mearns, again so exquisite, so ready to begin her professional dance career. Ana Sophia Scheller, from Buenos Aires, was happy, confident, and superbly talented. Tyler Angle, again displaying his dynamic and magnetic presence, was the perfect Prince, a true partner and promising Danseur. The Jewels, Gold, Diamond, Ruby, and Emerald, were scintillating, and William Lin-Yee as King Florestan and Lindsay McGrath as The Queen were stately and stylistic.

This was so much more than a Workshop Performance, which is meant as a presentation, as there is no formal graduation at SAB. Students graduate into Dance Companies and professional dance projects. This performance could have been presented by a professional Company, as the advanced students are so professionally trained and poised onstage. Kudos to Peter Martins and School of American Ballet.

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