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Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater
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Ballet Academy East to Premiere Four Ballets

by Ellen Jacobs
February 15, 2016
Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater
405 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019
While pre-professional dancers have been integrated into professional productions ever since the early days of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, it is unusual for ballet students to have ballets especially choreographed for them. Welcome to Ballet Academy East’s season at Ailey CitiGroup Theater, where four new ballets choreographed for BAE’s most talented young dancers will be premiered February 18-20. Ashley Bouder, Jenna Lavin and Claudia Schreier choreographed the new works.

The program will also feature George Balanchine’s beloved classic “Raymonda Variations” staged by Darla Hoover, BAE’s artistic director and répétiteur for the Balanchine Trust.

Marking Ashley Bouder’s first foray into choreography, her ballet (title to come), set to Mozart’s ballet score “Les petits riens,” will have a cast of 13 dancers ranging in age from 12 to 15. Ms. Bouder is a principle dancer with New York City Ballet.

A former Miami City Ballet soloist, Jenna Lavin has created 18 ballets for BAE students over her 15 years teaching at the school. Set to Schubert’s “Piano Trio no. 2 in E flat major, Opus 100,” this year’s premiere “(S)EVEN” is comprised of a series of short solos performed en pointe and tailored to each of its seven female teenage dancers. Lavin has also created a short waltz, “Barcarolle,” set to the “Barcarolle” section of Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffmann” for a group of 14 preteens, ages 10 to 12 years.

Choreographed for 22 of the school’s most technically advanced dancers, Claudia Schreier’s premiere, aptly titled “Charge,” is defined by a driving energy that ebbs and flows throughout the ballet. Schreier’s dance challenges the performers’ traditional balletic movement by requiring a fluid use of their torso and a greater curvature of their shoulders and arms. “Charge” is set to “Piano Concerto: III” by the contemporary Dutch composer Douwe Eisenga.

“Raymonda Variations,” one of George Balanchine’s signature ballets, offers BAE’s advanced dancers a showcase for their diverse technical and virtuosic gifts. As a young student, Balanchine danced in the Mariinsky production of the original full-length story ballet, “Raymonda,” by Marius Petipa. Loving Alexander Glazunov’s music, but not the weight of the story, Balanchine discarded the narrative in his “Raymonda Variations,” creating a plotless ballet of shimmering lyricism and wit.

The commitment of the young performers is absolute. In order to achieve the professional polish necessary for public performances, the advanced students have added three hours of daily rehearsal since January 1 to their three hours of technique class six days a week. And that’s in addition to the demands of their academics.


In 1978, Julia Dubno, the founder and director of Ballet Academy East, was appointed by Christine Fokine to run the Fokine Ballet School. That experience led to the opening of Ballet Academy East in a brownstone on East 79th Street with one small studio in 1979. Today, the school has five studios and Dubno continues to manage the daily operations, working closely with its world-renowned faculty. The Pre-Professional Division faculty, led by Artistic Director Darla Hoover, Charles Askegard, Maxim Beloserkovsky, Cynthia Birdwell, Olga Dvorovenko, Peter Frame, Gonzalo Garcia, Jenna Lavin, Joseph Malbrough, Tara Mora, Francis Patrelle, Elizabeth Walker, Wendy Whelan and Cheryl Yeager, prepares dancers for professional ballet careers. Alumni of BAE are currently performing in companies across the country, including New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, BalletMet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Ballet Memphis, Alabama Ballet, Kansas City Ballet and Washington Ballet.


Ashley Bouder

Born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Bouder began her training at age six at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. After attending the summer program at the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet, Bouder was invited by SAB to continue her training during the Winter Session in 1999. In June 2000, Bouder was named an apprentice with the New York City Ballet. She became a member of the corps de ballet in October 2000. In February 2004, Bouder was promoted to soloist and became a principal dancer in January 2005. She has been a guest teacher with Ballet Academy East.

Darla Hoover

Darla Hoover trained at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and completed her studies at the School of American Ballet. In 1980, George Balanchine invited her to join New York City Ballet, where for the next decade she appeared as a featured soloist in many ballets. She further expanded her repertory experience by making guest appearances throughout the United States and Europe. Today, Hoover focuses her attention on teaching and staging ballets. She is the artistic director of Ballet Academy East’s Pre-Professional Division and the associate artistic director of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, where she directs a Teachers Workshop. Hoover guest teaches all over the world including Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, New National Theatre Tokyo and Royal Danish Ballet. As a répétiteur, Hoover has staged works for the George Balanchine Trust and Peter Martins, Ballet Master-in-Chief of New York City Ballet, for companies including the Royal Danish Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, New National Theatre Tokyo and Dance Theatre of Harlem. She was recently invited to stage Balanchine’s “Raymonda Variations” at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Jenna Lavin

Originally from Queens, New York, Jenna Lavin graduated from the School of American Ballet. At age 17, Lavin was invited to join the Chicago City Ballet. She then went on to dance with the Atlanta Ballet for seven years before she became a principal dancer with the Nashville Ballet. Her performing career also includes the Los Angeles Ballet as well as Edward Villella’s Miami City Ballet where she danced as a soloist, and performed principle roles in many ballets. Lavin has been teaching ballet to young dancers throughout her career since she was 17. She has taught master classes in Atlanta, Michigan and for the Nashville Ballet School. Lavin has been on the faculty at Ballet Academy East since 2003 where she teaches and choreographs for the school’s Pre-Professional Program.

Claudia Schreier

A native New Yorker, Claudia Schreier has been commissioned to create dances by companies and organizations including the Vail International Dance Festival, Lake Tahoe Dance Collective, Intermezzo Dance Company, Ballet Academy East, the Ailey School, Columbia Ballet Collaborative, The Harvard Club of New York Foundation, Harvard Ballet Company, and the Academy of Music Arts. Her work has twice represented Harvard University for adjudication at the American College Dance Festival and was selected both times for the Gala Performances. Schreier recently presented a full-evening performance of her own work, entitled Claudia Schreier & Company, at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in August 2015. She graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in sociology and secondary degree in dramatic arts.


Thursday, February 18 at 7pm
Friday, February 19 at 7pm
Saturday, February 20 at 2:30pm & 6pm

Ailey Citigroup Theater is located at 405 West 55th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue.


Tickets are $50, and can be purchased online at www.ticketcentral.com, by phone at (212)-279-4200 or at Ticket Central Box Office at 416 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th avenues. (Hours: 12pm-8pm)

*Hannah Marshall is currently a member of corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre; Dagny Hanrahan is currently a coryphée with Sarasota Ballet; Chase Finlay is currently a principal dancer with New York City Ballet; Puanani Brown performed with American Ballet Theater for three seasons. She is currently a student at Harvard University.
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