March 12, 2008 |
Ballet is not often rained out. But after dozens of "Don Quixote" variations and a passel of "Paquitas," the Youth American Grand Prix regional semifinals had to be postponed Saturday night when heavy rain and high winds knocked out the power at the Swarthmore College competition site. The semifinals are the gateway to next month's YAGP finals in New York, where regional winners from dance programs around the world will compete for prizes and opportunities to study at the schools of ballet's top companies.
January 26, 2013
Spring 2013 promises to be a great one for dance and dance lovers. On the local scene, Pennsylvania Ballet reopened its school in the fall and moved into new Center City studios this month. The company, which marks its 50th birthday next season, dances four packed programs this spring, with choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Forsythe & Kylian, and, of course, Balanchine. Among the visiting companies, I am particularly eager to see Dance Theatre of Harlem, which began performing again this season after an eight-year hiatus.
March 25, 2015 |
The annual "Shut Up & Dance" show gives the dancers of Pennsylvania Ballet a chance to stretch their wings, to do something new, to play. At this year's performance, Saturday at the Forrest Theater, some tried their hand at choreography, while others danced front and center for a change. They and some of their friends in the dance community were there to raise money for the nonprofit Manna - which delivers free meals to those with life-threatening illnesses - while doing what they do best.
December 10, 2002 |
Moments before a recent Pennsylvania Ballet rehearsal, the Nutcracker Prince - Shawn Sebastian, age 15 - was hanging out in the hall, munching on a Dunkin' Donut and chatting with friends. Just your average Jersey kid, except for ballet shoes instead of Nikes. But then came his time to dance. Shawn drew himself up into an elegant ballet stance. Then, in movements fluid and sure, he glided across the floor with his Marie, bestowing a princely bow on the Sugar Plum Fairy before regaling her with a rousing pantomime of his victorious battle with the evil Mouse King.
November 27, 2009 |
"Stephanie, look him right in the eye," Roy Kaiser coaches over a public-address system. "You looooooooooove him!" Not words most 11-year-old girls want to hear from an adult, especially in a theater filled with parents and schoolchildren, who immediately clap and call "wooo!" But Stephanie Bandura grasps the arm of her prince - 13-year-old Peter Weil - adjusts her focus, and they proceed calmly. Later Tuesday night, in the part of her young life, Stephanie would dance the opening steps in Pennsylvania Ballet's Nutcracker before a packed house at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.
April 22, 2012 |
So far, 2012 is being very, very good to Michaela DePrince. The 17-year-old dancer — born in Sierra Leone and raised in Cherry Hill — appears in the April issue of Marie Claire and will be the subject of a spread in a forthcoming Teen Vogue. She's a major part of the award-winning documentary First Position, about talented young ballet dancers competing at the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix, that opens nationwide on May 11. And on Tuesday night, she'll appear on ABC's Dancing With the Stars, performing a pas de deux with Adé Chiké Torbert — who came in fourth in the seventh season of So You Think You Can Dance — as British pop star Natasha Bedingfield sings "Wild Horses.
January 27, 2008 |
For a decade or more, no company on the Philadelphia arts scene dramatized institutional failure more spectacularly than the Pennsylvania Ballet. Even in the years after a frantic save-the-ballet campaign kept it from closing down in 1991, the company defaulted on its mortgage for a building it had come to call an "albatross," vendors were left in the lurch, the front office became a revolving door, the repertoire was often recycled. But it appears that the 44-year-old Pennsylvania Ballet has taken an enormous leap - a financial and organizational grand jete - that will force culture vultures to find a different benchmark for failure.
March 2, 2008 |
Esteban Hernandez may be only 13, but his jumps soar. In his Don Quixote variation - usually danced by men twice his age - Hernandez's confidence and regal posture belie his youth. He is a Rock star, a top ballet student at Philadelphia's Rock School for Dance Education. But this week the native of Guadalajara, Mexico, will be aiming even higher - competing in Swarthmore at the regional semifinal of the Youth America Grand Prix, a competition for ballet dancers ages 9 to 19. To prepare, he and four dozen other Rock competitors spend an extra hour or two a day - on top of five hours in ballet classes - rehearsing for the Grand Prix at the Rock studios at Broad Street and Washington Avenue.
July 6, 2008 |
Jeri Packman, 88, a dance educator who taught creative movement to Philadelphia schoolchildren and teachers for more than 60 years and was a leader in Philadanco and the Philadelphia Dance Alliance, died of heart failure Tuesday at her home in Center City. Mrs. Packman, born Gertrude Coplin, celebrated her 88th birthday with family members Tuesday night. After they left, she died. "My mother had a flair for the dramatic," daughter Hedra Packman said. "She was strong-willed and left this world when she was ready.
April 27, 2016 |
In a move unprecedented in Pennsylvania Ballet's 53-year history, nearly 40 percent of the dancers will be replaced for the 2016-17 season, artistic director Angel Corella said Monday. Of 43 dancers, 12 were let go and five are leaving on their own. Others, dancers say, are thinking of leaving. Pennsylvania Ballet, like most ballet companies, offers dancers one-year contracts. The rosters are always in flux, but it is less common to replace so many dancers at once. "It's always a difficult process for everyone" when contracts are not renewed, Corella said.