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.
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.
October 17, 2007 |
At rest, their feet looked like those of ordinary fourth graders - standing on a scuffed linoleum floor in orange sneakers and sturdy black loafers and sparkly pink shoes. But once the jingly piano music began and the dozen schoolchildren brought their legs together, feet pointing in opposite directions, for first position, they were dancers. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the crime and poverty of Kensington and North Philadelphia surrounding Sheppard Elementary School matters a little less, principal Jim Otto said proudly.
May 16, 2004 |
Just as the arrival of the Lilac Fairy brings joy to Princess Aurora in Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty, so the recent performance of the classic by ballet company Pages to Pirouettes brought smiles to the faces of children and adults at the Christ Lutheran Community Church After-School Program fund-raiser. The dance, which premiered in St. Petersburg in 1890, was shortened from more than three hours to less than one by Pages to Pirouettes, a nonprofit organization that shares the ballet experience with young children.
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.