July 20, 2015 |
Misty Copeland was showered with love and attention when she became the first African American principal ballerina at American Ballet Theatre last month. She received thousands of congratulatory tweets. Her promotion was big news in media nationwise. Ballet fans rejoiced, and so did many who had never heard of her. Would this mean a new era of opportunity for ballerinas of color in a world of white swans, snowflakes, and sylphs? The outlook depends on whom you ask. Joan Myers Brown, founding artistic director of Philadanco, created her troupe 45 years ago "because there were no opportunities for black dancers, not because I wanted to have a black company.
June 14, 2015 |
From the opening curtain to the final darkening of the lights, exuberant reactions - both subjectively visceral and objectively profound - rippled through the Merriam Theater at the Pennsylvania Ballet's season closer Thursday night. Choreographer William Forsythe has returned to the States after decades helming Ballet Frankfurt and then his own company in Dresden. The Philadelphia premiere of his 1991 The Second Detail is his third work from the Pennsylvania Ballet. These decades-old, neoclassical ballets will appeal to lovers of Balanchine, whom Forsythe most admired, and, to my eye, advanced the Balanchine aesthetic.
June 8, 2015 |
Angel Corella's first year as artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet has been one of many changes. The entire artistic staff was replaced, new dancers and guest artists were hired, and, just Monday, Alexander Peters was promoted to principal dancer. But what hardly changed was the lineup of ballets audiences saw all season. "I was actually very pleased with the whole season," Corella said. "I know I could have changed a lot of the ballets that Roy [Kaiser, his predecessor] picked, but I thought it was actually quite interesting.
June 1, 2015 |
CLASSICAL and contemporary programs, and plenty of hybrids, fill the summer dance calendar. Major and fledgling talents perform, including a student company from Pennsylvania Ballet dancing a Balanchine masterwork. Metropolitan Ballet Company, May 30-31. Last month's Youth America Grand Prix awarded high honors to this pre-professional company, and they're ready to show us the reasons. Muller Auditorium at Abington Friends School, 575 Washington Lane, Jenkintown, 1 and 4 p.m. both days, $15, 215-663-1665, metropolitanballetacademy.com.
May 23, 2015 |
A season of change at Pennsylvania Ballet will be topped off by one more: Zachary Hench and Julie Diana are leaving. The married couple, beloved principal dancers-turned-ballet masters, are moving to Juneau, Alaska, after Pennsylvania Ballet's season ends June 14 to run the state capital's only ballet school, Juneau Dance Theatre. "It will be a really incredible adventure for our family, and for Julie and I to run an organization together," said Hench. He'll be artistic director, Diana executive director.
May 15, 2015 |
Eight corporate and civic leaders have joined H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, owner and publisher of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com, to serve on a board of directors for the Philadelphia media company. Philadelphia Media Network L.L.C., the corporate parent of the news operations, announced the formation of the board Wednesday. Lenfest said the board would meet quarterly and provide him with guidance on the management of the company. The new members range from a former newspaper publisher to one of the region's leading philanthropists, from the Philadelphia founder of a top venture-capital fund to two leaders of prominent city law firms.
May 10, 2015 |
On the Town was nominated for four Tony Awards last week. The ballet on which the Broadway show (and Gene Kelly movie) was based opened Thursday night at the Academy of Music as part of Pennsylvania Ballet's "Tribute to Jerome Robbins. " Choreographed in 1944, Fancy Free was Robbins' first ballet and a collaboration with then-on-the-brink-of-success composer Leonard Bernstein. It is the story of three young sailors who dance and show off in unsuccessful but valiant bids to win over two girls.
April 1, 2015 |
Justin Peck, Liam Scarlett, Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon: They're among the hottest young choreographers in ballet today. And Pennsylvania Ballet will dance their works and more next year in a blockbuster-packed season, artistic director Angel Corella announced Monday. This is the sort of world-class programming that dance fans anticipated when Corella was hired in the fall. "I was incredibly lucky to have danced with all these companies around the world," he said in a recent interview, naming American Ballet Theatre, the Royal Ballet, La Scala, the Australian Ballet, and others.
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.
March 8, 2015 |
When a sensational dancer first steps onstage, it's as exciting for me as for an astronomer discovering a nova. Zachary Hench gave such a moment when he flashed his star quality stepping out as Prince Siegfried in Christopher Wheeldon's production of Swan Lake in 2004. Newly commissioned by Pennsylvania Ballet, it was a million-dollar gamble I hope has paid off in real money as much as it does in artistic quality and innovation. I reviewed that premiere, but looking back on it, I did not fully appreciate its value.