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"Giselle" 1-4 November 2012


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Ballet Arizona just posted a link to a short video for the upcoming performances of "Giselle":

That's Natalia Magnicaballi, but I'm guessing this the film is from an earlier run, because it looks like her partner is Ross Clarke. Please let me know if it's someone else as Albrecht.

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Casting is now available on the BAZ website.

Opening night is:

Natalia Magnicaballi and Shea Johnson with Jillian Barrell and Gleidson Vasconcelos in Peasent Pas. Kanako Imayoshi as Myrtha.

Zulma and Moyna will be Michelle Vagi and Jillian Barrell

I thought it worthy to note that new to BAZ (as both dancer and an upper div. faculty member at SBAZ) Amber Lewis will dance Peasent Pas w/ Slawomir Wozniak both evening perfomances on 3rd and the 4th.

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full casting is available in .pdf format by clicking the link on this page.

There are a handful of new dancers, either starting this season or at the end of last season, who are being given prominent roles in "Giselle";

Dancers I haven't yet seen are Kokoro Umemoto as Giselle, Elizabeth Smedley as Bathilde, Amber Lewis in Peasant Pas. Nayon Iovino joined BA at the end of last season and danced the lead in "Rubies." He and Vasconcelos were in the corps of "Stravinsky Violin Concerto."

Smedley graduated from the Miami City Ballet School in 2008 and joined MCB. According to her LinkedIn profile, she danced there through 2012. According to the Phoenix Dance Cooperative website (scroll), where she teaches "Ballet, Tech, and Stretch," she also trained at Tempe Dance Academy and School of Ballet Arizona before MCB.

From the Ballet Arizona .pdf press release (click to start download) for "Giselle,"

New to Ballet Arizona, Kokoro Umemoto makes her debut with the title role of Giselle. Most recently a soloist with the Bucharest National Opera Ballet Company, the young Japanese ballerina is a graduate of the Royal Ballet School in London and has studied at the Shanghai National Ballet School and the Central School of Ballet in London. She has appeared at the Prague State Opera Ballet and the Atlantic Ballet Theater of Canada. A laureate of several international awards, Ms. Umemoto has received the AICD International Ballet Award (2003), the silver medal in the Tokyo All Japan Ballet Competition (2004) the bronze medal in the 2005 edition of the same competition, the first prize in the Nara Ballet Competition and the first prize in the Nagoya All Japan Ballet Competition (2006). Last year she was featured in Elle Magazine.

According to her official English website, it was the Romanian version of "Elle."

Here's a video of Gleidson Vasconcelos' gold medal winning choreography and performance at the 2009 World Ballet Competition:

According to his Facebook page, he was born in Brazil, studied at Harid, and dance with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet until 2006, and the Cuban Classical Ballet from May 2006-February 2010, and also with the New Jersey Ballet (no dates). He debuted with Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre in 2009, according to this review, and is listed under CCB as a performer in the 2009 10th Anniversary YAGP Gala. He started with Ballet Arizona at least for 2011 Nutcracker, and was mentioned in Deborah Jowitt's review of BA's NYC performance of "Play."

I don't understand Spanish, so I'm not sure there is much biographical info in this news feature, but there's some nice footage of him dancing a pas de deux:

Both Nayon Iovino and Amber Lewis have joined the School of Ballet Arizona faculty, and from the School's page is the following biographical info:

Nayon Iovino is of Brazil, and began dancing at age 10 under the instruction of Gisela Vaz. At age 17, was awarded a full scholarship to begin training with The Washington School of Ballet under the direction of Kee Juan Han and Carlos Valcárcel. His accomplishments include Bronze Medal at the 2009 Youth America Grand Prix and Gold Medal at World Ballet Competition in 2011. He danced with Houston Ballet II under the direction of Stanton Welsh for the 2009-2010 season and trained with Claudio Munoz and Andrew Murphy. In 2010 Mr. Iovino joined the Washington Ballet and this is his first season with Ballet Arizona.

Amber Lewis of Australia, is in her first season with Ballet Arizona. She began her training at a young age in Brisbane before moving to Sydney to begin her pre professional training with Ecole Ballet Studios. She discovered her passion for American ballet by attending the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet Summer Intensive and from there she was accepted into The Washington School of Ballet and trained under the direction of Kee Juan Han and Carlos Varcárcel. In 2010 Amber joined the Washington Ballet’s second company and was promoted the following year to apprentice.

“As a former student of Carlos Valcárcel's, I am excited and eager to teach at The School of Ballet Arizona. I look forward to sharing my knowledge of his teaching methods and help students relate to ballet with more understanding.”

Junxiong Zhao is also new to the company. He won first place in the Classical Dance Category and Second Place in the Contemporary Dance Category at 2011 YAGP.

He's the only winner who isn't identified in the video, but the senior Classical Men's winner begins at 6min. According to this news article, he was competing in the Capetown International Ballet Competition under the Washington Ballet Studio Company as of last March, winning gold medals in both the classical and contemporary categories, and his contemporary solo was choreographed by Carlos Varcárcel.

These bios have me singing, "It's a Small World."

Edited to add: I'm so glad to see Tzu-Chia Huang and Astrit Zejnati paired together. (I don't know if they were the last time this was performed, but in 2007, he partnered Ginger Smith.)

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Astrit Zejnati stole the show today. He was charming and had a light comedic edge to his Act 1 and a very strong Act 2. Not only did he elicit strong audience response but I found his partnering skills to really wonderful this afternoon. Tzu-Chia Huang while having a flare for the drama struggled technically and missed the mark more often than not in her footwork, at least for me anyway. It didn't help that I found her shoes to be distracting.... something ill fitting about the box. She did have some nice moments though and I think she enjoys the dancing character itself. Perhaps with more time/focus on the detailed footwork and different shoes I would have enjoyed her more.

Michelle Vagi had some lovely balances in attitude during her Act 1 variation and Zavarov's beautiful feet were a real pleasure to watch, especially in beats.

Kenna Draxon danced Myrtha today, which was not scheduled. She gave a strong and more than a bit menacing portrayal. And while her especially striking characterization was something I am not accustomed to it was effective and danced very cleanly with particularly lovely bourees at the start of Act 2.

Beau Campbell also was a stand out for me even though she was not featured. She came closest to what I like to see from a Willi corps and my eye was drawn to her again and again.

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