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Student Performances and Where PD's Are Going

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Today is Student Performance Day. Dancers in Levels I-IV, Levels I-VIII Men, and DanceChance will perform at 2pm with their classes, and there will be performance of Doug Fullington's reconstruction of excerpts from "Le Corsaire," danced by Level II-Professional Division Students.

At 7pm,

PNB students in Levels V-VIII perform original works by PNB School faculty and Company dancer Matthew Renko, and present an encore performance of Le Corsaire, accompanied by the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra.


There's a celebration dinner at 4:30, between performances.

For anyone going to either or both, please be aware that it's graduation weekend for many area schools, and Seattle Center has been packed with graduates and people trying to park. There's also a Sounders game at 7pm -- the Mariners are in Houston -- which is farther downtown, but can block up Aurora and I-5.

In the "Carmina" program, Peter Boal wrote that four PD's are heading to Salt Lake City. Three PD dancers from last night's "Next Step" program are on the Ballet West II roster (scroll): Brittany Rand, Kyle Davis, and Joshua Shutkind. I'm not sure which of the two women in Charles McCall's "Descendent Inklings" was Brittany Rand, but both women were big and lush movers. Kyle Davis as been in all of the big ballet corps this season and has been a standout. He was featured last night in Chelsea Adomaitis' "film muet" (set to Edith Piaf's singing) and in a long solo by Price Suddarth called "Duet?" set to the first movement of Prokofiev's 3rd Piano Concerto. He's on the shorter side; despite this I was hoping against hope he'd be chosen for PNB, but that's filed along with the pony I want, and I hope he gets the career he wants. Joshua Shutkind has also been dancing strongly in corps roles this season, and he was a lovely partner in Steven Loch's "Scheherezade" (pas de deux).

I don't see a fourth name from last night's program on the Ballet West website. I don't know if Boal was counting former PD Enrico Hipolito, who spent the year at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, where former PNB standout Nicholas Ade is CEO. He's also a Ballet West II member now.

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I'm at the evening show, and the program lists where PNBS PD's are going:

Angeli Mamon, tonight's Gulnare, will join PNB. If she's an apprentice, the usual course, that usually means with "Nutcracker" and a December start, although Peter Boal said that practice for the new production will begin earlier at the beginning of August, and this year might be different.

The fourth PD to join Ballet West II with Brittany Rand, Joshua Shutkind-- tonight's Seyd -- and Kyle Davis -- tonight's Birbanto -- is tonight's Conrad, Luis Morales Capetillo.

Tonight's Medora, Abby Callahan, joins LA Ballet.

Daena Bortnick joins Ballet Met II.

Molly Brown joins Suzanne Farrell Ballet.

Morganne Campbell joins Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre II.

Grace Haskins joins Grand Rapids Ballet as a Trainee.

Briana Moriarty joins Nevada Balket Theatre.

Isaac Bates-Vinueza will attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

William Keiser will attend Princeton University.

Sarah Young will attend Indiana University.

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Kyle Davis as been in all of the big ballet corps this season and has been a standout. He was featured last night in Chelsea Adomaitis' "film muet" (set to Edith Piaf's singing) and in a long solo by Price Suddarth called "Duet?" set to the first movement of Prokofiev's 3rd Piano Concerto. He's on the shorter side; despite this I was hoping against hope he'd be chosen for PNB, but that's filed along with the pony I want, and I hope he gets the career he wants.

Argh. Davis was good in the Forsythe program (and wasn't he tossed in as a last-minute replacement for Porretta in that, too?)

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You're thinking of Kyle Davis who's been at PNB since 2008 choreographed for Next Step. Kyle (L.) Davis is a Professional Division student who was featured in Next Step and danced Birbanto in Doug Fullington's reconstruction of "Le Corsaire" excerpts tonight.

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There was some more info in the program, with a page dedicated to the Dance Chance program, which celebrates its 21st year this year.

So far, eight former Dance Chance students have gone/are going on to professional careers, with two dancing with PNB:

  • Alice Cao (Ballet Memphis, American Repertory Ballet, Singapore Dance Theater, after receiving a degree in computer engineering at the University of Washington while studying ballet at PNBS)
  • Carlos Cruz (Oregon Ballet Theatre)
  • Enrico Hipolito (Ballet West II)
  • Eric Hipolito Jr. (PNB, Ballet Arizona)
  • Angeli Mamon (PNB)
  • Ken Mankin (Kansas City Ballet II, Ballet Met II, Ballet Austin II)
  • Anders Southerland (Houston Ballet II)
  • Quinn Wharton (San Francisco Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago)

Mamon, along with PD Amanda Morgan, was an exchange student with the Palucca School Dresden, and they performed with the Semperoper Ballet corps in "Swan Lake" this spring.

Former Dance Change student news:

  • Jade Butler is one of two local dancers who will move from Level VII or VIII to the Professional Division next year. (Ashley Baker is the other.)
  • Kuu Sakuragi was nominated for a Princess Grace award and with Brianna Moriarty will be part of the Flemming Halby Dance Student Exchange Program and will study at the Royal Danish Ballet School this summer. (Eric Hipolito Jr. was part of the program years ago.)
  • Bella Ureta will be a summer exchange student at the National Ballet of Canada School

Mamon and Ureta were featured in this PNB video when they were training to perform with the PNB corps in "Swan Lake" this spring:

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The evening performance focused on the Level V-VIII's and Professional Division students. In the class pieces, only in Level VII were there men. Level V's and VI's performed in ballet slippers, and performed with their geographical peers -- Seattle or Francia Russell Center on the Eastside -- while the VII's and VIII's performed in pointe shoes. The class pieces were choreographed by teachers and were performed either to recorded music or to Jeff Junkinsmith's piano accompaniment.

I always find it interesting to see what challenges the teacher-choreographers create for their students, especially students in the V-VI range, where they are all over the map in terms of height and body development, which means that many are adjusting to new centers of gravity and weight distribution: last year's Level IV or V tech whiz could be struggling this year.

The challenges that were common to all of the programs are the same that professional dancers face in large corps: staying in formation, maintaining the correct spacing, and making seamless transitions during formation changes. I was especially impressed with Dana Hanson's Level VII's, who performed in dark ink leotards and skirts to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." The pointe work looked very strong throughout, and the formations were crisp. Nancy Crowley's "Valse Fantasie" for the Level VIII's was more complex and included more solo work, partnering, and changing groups as well as more technically difficult elements, like double turns. Not surprisingly, it wasn't as clean on the whole as the prior group, but it had sweep throughout. My only distraction was the music: I kept expecting Melinda Roy to leap across the stage with those magnificent jumps from the Balanchine version.

The program opened with Matthew Renko's "Danse macabre" for eight Professional Division students. Four couples stood in the corners wearing jackets over their costumes; once removed, they revealed what looked like a mix of costumes from "Who Cares?," with the women wearing socks over their point shoes. The theatrical conceit was a rehearsal, where one couple was having a difficult time with the partnering, and the tall blond dancer in the couple was giving him her best Barbara Fusar-Poli stare. The man, a tall, slender dark-haired dancer, then paired with a short dark-haired dancer, which worked a lot better -- except for his original partner -- until the end, where his new partner re-teamed with her original partner, and the blond partner dragged him off. "Danse macabre" indeed.

The second half of the program was Doug Fullington's beautiful reconstruction of excerpts from "Le Corsaire." The precision of the scene changes, in which dancers moved furniture, platforms, flower beds, and props in an out seamlessly as the scenery dropped in and out, needed to be as accomplished as the dancing, and it was.

In these selections, lasting about 30 minutes, Conrad was primarily a mime role, in the opening of the "Entree de Medora" and a partnering role, in the "Scene dansante" in the Grotto scene. Birbanto was the primary male dancing role, and Kyle L. Davis, partnering Grace Haskins in the "Danse des forbans" and the "Danse des corsaires" danced and portrayed the character brilliantly. Abby Callahan dances big and lush, and the style was challenging, but she was technically assured and projected very well, and her feet are wonderfully articulate. Angeli Mamon danced Gulnare and gave a convincing portrayal of the character, as did Joshua Shutkind in the short role of Seyd, and in the short glimpses we saw of the Odalisques, Daena Bortnick, Erika Crawford, and Shelby Whallon, who performed the "Entree & coda." The Professional Division students were joined by dancers from Levels II and up, who were pirates and villagers and danced in the centerpiece, four excerpts from the exquisite "Le jardin anime."

The great advantage of "Le Corsaire" excerpts being done by the School is the great range of ages, sizes, and abilities in one performance. It looked like a society.

My only complaint is that it wasn't enough: we need to see the whole thing.

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The last time Doug F reconstructed the Jardin Anime, he only had a few baskets and garlands for the architectural effects -- this time around the staging was much more elaborate, and you can really see how the dancing moves through and around the physical environment. The tableaus really reminded me of the photos we have from that era, with the combined effect coming from the levels of the platforms and ramps, along with the actual bodies in space. What a thrill to see it for real in "living color" (as the old Disney "Wide World of Color" program used to tout -- the Wayans family borrowed the phrase)

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