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.
March 7, 2015 |
David Gray, who has been serving as interim executive director of the Pennsylvania Ballet since last summer, has had his interim status removed and will manage the company going forward, ballet board chair David Hoffman announced Thursday. Hoffman touted Gray's "strong leadership style and breadth of experience in ballet, nonprofit, and financial communities" in making the announcement. Gray, 55, who began in the press office of the New York City Ballet and then became a certified financial planner and consultant to many nonprofits facing change, has also been executive director of the American Repertory Ballet, New Jersey's largest dance organization.
February 14, 2015 |
Betty K. Musser, 91, of Newtown Square, a philanthropist, died Tuesday, Feb. 3, of respiratory failure due to pneumonia at Bryn Mawr Hospital. Mrs. Musser, whose maiden name was Umstad, was born in Pittsburgh. She lived in Villanova and earned a bachelor's degree in biology at Ursinus College. She was married for 43 years to Warren V. "Pete" Musser, a venture capitalist and major philanthropist in the Philadelphia area. He was founder and CEO of the Wayne-based Safeguard Scientifics Inc. The two divorced; he survives.
February 8, 2015 |
Excitement filled the Merriam Theater on Thursday night as the Pennsylvania Ballet presented a program featuring a world premiere by resident choreographer Matthew Neenan and a trio of rising stars. Mayara Pineiro, who joined the corps last fall, was outstanding in Neenan's Shift to Minor . Brand-new soloist Oksana Maslova distinguished herself - with the superb Ian Hussey as her partner - in Christopher Wheeldon's Polyphonia . And Alexander Peters, a Pennsylvania Ballet apprentice just three years ago, was a revelation in the title role of George Balanchine's Prodigal Son . Set to a piano score by György Ligeti played by the excellent Martha Koeneman, Polyphonia was an impressive opener.
December 29, 2014 |
Jordan Matter is a one-man flash mob - with a camera. On a frosty Monday in early December, Matter and two dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet and one from BalletX are pinballing around downtown, politely commandeering Santa's seat in City Hall's courtyard, an entire block of Addison Street, and a divider in the middle of South Broad Street - during rush hour. See it. Feel it. Shoot it. That's how Matter works. The eye behind the lens of Dancers Among Us , a 2012 New York Times best seller and an Oprah Magazine best book, says his process "relies on serendipity.
December 10, 2014 |
Pennsylvania Ballet has undergone great change in recent months - a new artistic director, new ballet masters, new dancers, and more. One had to wonder: Would the beloved winter classic George Balanchine's The Nutcracker look different too when it opened Saturday at the Academy of Music? The once-a-year balletgoer may not notice the changes, because the Balanchine choreography must be kept as the great choreographer set it 60 years ago, only allowing for alterations he later made or would have approved.
December 1, 2014 |
Ballet or college? Many young dancers ask themselves that question. For Elizabeth Mateer, the matter was even more complicated when she received a job offer from Pennsylvania Ballet 2, the second company, as well as an acceptance to Harvard. Mateer, now 24, chose ballet. Five years later, as a member of the first company's corps de ballet, her decision is paying off in featured roles. In October, she shone in performances of Christopher Wheeldon's Liturgy and Alexei Ratmansky's Jeu de Cartes . Next she'll dance Sugar Plum in some performances of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker , opening Saturday.
November 28, 2014 |
NO MATTER how late Thanksgiving is, the winter holidays come quickly every year. And every year, the People Paper has you covered. This year's rundown lays out three dozen Philly-in-December traditions. Some - the Pops, Longwood Christmas, "The Nutcracker,"; all those light shows - you already know, and love. Others - Joybells of Melmark, Christmas Posada, City Hall's new ice rink - you really oughta give a try. Sure, you'll be busy. 'Tis the season. (Free events have an *) CITY LIGHTS Macy's Light Show,* Nov. 28-Dec.
October 19, 2014 |
The Pennsylvania Ballet opened its season - and the next chapter in its 51-year existence - Thursday night at the Academy of Music with Press Play: The Directorial Debut of Ángel Corella . It's less than two months since the Spaniard Corella, a former principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre and an international star, took over as artistic director amid a tsunami of changes at the company. His influence has already made improvements. The program opened with Balanchine's "Allegro Brillante," set to Tchaikovsky.
October 18, 2014
The Pennsylvania Ballet opened its season Thursday night with many staffing changes - including one big one that slipped by with little mention or fanfare: Zachary Hench retired from dancing. The much-loved former principal dancer was named ballet master in August, along with his wife, Julie Diana , who retired as principal dancer in May. Hench planned to multitask as both dancer and coach. But being ballet master of a company in much transition (including a new artistic director, Ángel Corella )