School Buzz: Ballet On Campus

March 31, 2009

Ballet On Campus

Many colleges lack ballet-oriented dance departments. So these two new student-run companies took it upon themselves to provide outlets for brainy ballet dancers.

Columbia Ballet Collaborative:
In the summer of 2007, five Columbia University students met at a diner to talk about how much they missed their mutual passion: ballet. A few hours later, the Columbia Ballet Collaborative was born. Since then, the group has swelled to include more than 25 dancers, and this spring its members will perform at Columbia’s Miller Theatre. Although much of the choreography will be by students—which was one of the founders’ goals—the program will also include a duet by New York City Ballet dancers Justin Peck and Teresa Reichlen. And the group’s members, many of whom have worked professionally, boast pretty impressive resumés themselves.

Princeton University Ballet: Princeton has several dance companies, but for a long time, none felt like a natural home for ballet students. Last spring, a small group of ballet enthusiasts, missing their pointe shoes, filled that hole: They created the Princeton University Ballet. Now the troupe includes 16 girls and 2 boys, and this spring it will present its first formal concert. Student choreography will make up most of the program, but the production will also include the classical Swan Lake pas de trois, as well as a piece choreographed by Mary Barton of the American Repertory Ballet School.

youngARTS Presidential Scholar Finalists

The youngARTS program, a part of National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, announced its list of finalists, made up of the nation’s most talented high school seniors in nine different artistic disciplines. Approximately 6,000 to 8,000 students register for youngARTS each year. The finalists are brought to Miami for youngARTS Week to participate in master classes and showcase performances. This year’s dance finalists were:

Chelsea Adomaitis
, Vashon, WA; Ernest Baker II, Opa-Locka, FL; Ryan Casey, Lexington, MA; Jeniffer Criss, Dallas, TX; Jeffrey Cirio, Winter Park, FL (see p. 56 in DS’ 2008 March issue); Sarah Clark, Monroe, MI; John Crowley, Ballston Lake, NY; Hannah Darrah, Durham, NC; Meghan Fluker, Dallas, TX; Vidya Govind-Thomas, Schaumburg, IL; Kayla Harley, Bowi, MD; Cecily Khuner, Berkeley, CA; Daniel Mitra, Woodstock Valley, CT; Sara Murawski, Chesapeake, VA (2007 DS Cover Model Search Finalist!); Raymond Pinto, Bridgeport, CT; Olivia Rehrman, Mckinney, TX; Dylan Tedaldi, Newton, MA (see p. 128 in DS’ 2008 July/August issue); Meena Thatikunta, Cincinnati, OH; Frederick Thomas, Cedar Hill, TX; Nathanial Trasoras, Downey, CA; Ayla Weisz, Miami, FL —Brianne Carlon

ABT II Welcomes Two Newbies

Congratulations to Colby Parsons and Alberto Velázquez, the newest members of American Ballet Theatre II! The former students of ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School were accepted into the second company this January. Nineteen-year-old Colby, a finalist at the 2007 New York Youth America Grand Prix, studied at Debbie Allen Dance Academy and The Rock School for Dance Education before joining the JKO School in 2007. Eighteen-year-old Alberto began dancing in his native Cuba and continued in Mexico and at Florida’s The Harid Conservatory, picking up the 2006 YAGP gold medal in pas de deux along the way, before landing at the JKO School in 2008. Look for both boys onstage with ABT II this April in NYC and Orono, ME.