With summer intensives right around the corner, the Ballet Palm Beach Academy ensures that the safety and well-being of students will always be its top priority. Ballet Palm Beach Academy Founder and Artistic Director Colleen Smith explains,

“Our students are everything to us. Now more than ever, it is important to let our students return to a bit of normalcy while assuring that each and every dancer stays happy and healthy.”

When asked about the changes put in place to protect student dancers, Smith adds, “My favorite part about our summer programs is the comradery and connections made between our students. The friendships developed in this program through classes and performances are a special kind that can last a lifetime. While prioritizing this unique experience, the Ballet Palm Beach Academy has put a number of precautions in place so that our dancers can make memories in a safe, well-managed environment!”

The following rules and regulations will be followed diligently throughout the entirety of summer programs. The Ballet Palm Beach Academy guarantees that intensive students will be treated with the utmost care and attentiveness, and the BPB Academy faculty is eager to make countless more memories with their cherished Academy dancers!

(June 17, 2020) Palm Beach Symphony has announced that Ballet Palm Beach Founder and Artistic Director Colleen Smith has been awarded the 2020 Randolph A. Frank Prize for the Performing Arts and will receive the entire prize amount of $10,000. The award ceremony will stream live to the public beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 25 at https://www.palmbeachsymphony.org/frank-prize.

“In addition to being a brilliant choreographer, Colleen has taught more than 5,000 Palm Beach County students and awarded in excess of $200,000 in scholarships to deserving dancers since creating the Ballet Palm Beach Academy in 1993,” said Palm Beach Symphony CEO David McClymont. “The joy she brings to audiences at Ballet Palm Beach performances and the superior dance instruction and nurturing encouragement she offers her pupils makes her extremely deserving of this honor. Due to current conditions, we will be hosting the ceremony on the internet and the many people Colleen has touched in her life will be able to take part in the celebration.”

Bestowed in the memory of Dr. Frank, a local arts champion in the early part of this century, the prize was established 11 years ago by Randolph A. Frank Prize Board Members Nancy and Jay Parker and founding chairman and acclaimed dance photographer Steven Caras. The award recognizes contributions to the enhancement of the cultural and artistic life of Palm Beach County by performing artists, arts educators and emerging artists.

Smith has danced with Ballet Met in Columbus, Ohio, New Dance Ensemble in Cleveland and Tulsa Ballet Theatre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Before establishing Ballet Palm Beach, she taught for the Kansas City Ballet School in Kansas City, Missouri; served as Ballet Mistress for New Dance Ensemble in Cleveland, Ohio; began the dance department of Trinity Methodist Fine Arts School in Palm Beach Gardens; and taught at numerous schools in South Florida.

In addition to the stunning production of The Nutcracker, which Smith choreographed and which features nearly 70 students on the stage of the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Academy initiatives include Ballet by the Book in which she annually creates a work based on a book chosen by the public library system. The dance is presented throughout the community at libraries, schools and theaters and includes post-performance talks with the young audiences.

Smith has deepened her students’ performance skills and understanding of their roles as artists through the Ballet Ambassadors program in which she leads overseas dance missions. During the past 11 years, the program has travelled to Russia, Croatia, France, Bosnia, Hungary and Cuba with performances presented in prisons, churches and synagogues free of charge.

Many of Smith’s students have pursued their dance education at colleges and universities and some are now professional dancers. Others have an appreciation for art and support dance in their own communities.

Elizabeth Faber, a senior majoring in dance at New York City’s Juilliard School, praised Smith writing, “Without Miss Colleen’s presence in my life, I would not nearly be the confident, determined and hard working person that I am today. Not only has Miss Colleen’s technique served me throughout my dance career, but she has shown me how to share my art and stand behind what I believe into the world.”

The general public is invited to the live award ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 25 at https://www.palmbeachsymphony.org/frank-prize. There is no charge and no advance registration is required.

Re-posted from broadwayworld.com
Photo (c) Steve Caras, all rights reserved

Amidst the pandemic outbreak, Ballet Palm Beach, among many other local businesses and organizations, decided to close its doors for the safety of its dancers, teachers, and academy students. Though quarantine was not the most ideal situation for its youngest ballerinas, the Ballet Palm Beach Academy powered through the setbacks, offering its students free, virtual ballet classes via Zoom with their beloved BPB teachers. “We [had] been offering tuition-free, virtual classes for our students, but I wanted to do something more,” said Colleen Smith, the Artistic Director of Ballet Palm Beach and School Director of the Academy.

So, what more could be done to bring the Ballet Palm Beach family together? With International Dance Day right around the corner, company dancers and academy teachers developed a creative way to bring smiles to the faces of their beloved academy students. Thus, the Tutu Project was born. Academy faculty, clad in BPB
T-shirts and tutus, drove from Boca Raton to Stuart delivering tutus to over 125 students while offering words of love and support to the families. In celebration of International Dance Day, students were encouraged to get creative, with many decorating and dancing in their tutus to share with fellow classmates.

Though it was brief, the reunion of academy teachers and students proved to be a touching moment that the BPB faculty won’t soon forget. Miss Julie, a ballet teacher at Ballet Palm Beach Academy for the past 16 years, explains, “In our recent Tutu project, Mr. Marshall was the pilot and navigator, and I had the lovely role of presenting each student with their tutu, much like a ‘tutu telegram’. Mr. Marshall and I drove from Jupiter to Royal Palm to Boca Raton. It was a two-day ‘Santa Clause- like’ experience! To see each student’s face light up at the receipt of their gift was beautiful. I was glad to be a part of the venture!”

The Ballet Palm Beach family has remained united through thick and thin, and the Tutu Project is just one of the many examples of the bond that lives within this community of dancers. Smith explains, “Our Tutu Project was a wonderful way to stay connected to our students during the isolation period due to Coronavirus. I was so thrilled to see the excitement from our dancers and families as they received our gift and then created their tutu masterpieces! Our Tutu Project was a blessing not only for our Ballet Palm Beach family but also for me. These have been unusual times to be sure, but the family that is Ballet Palm Beach has once again shown that our school has more to offer than just dance! The Ballet Palm Beach Company and Academy are about using dance to build community.”

Pictured:
1-BPB Academy Students Bella and Chloe Tejada
2-BPB Academy Student Julia Bramham


(May 10, 2020)  As Ballet Palm Beach comes to the end of what would have been our last day of our 2019 / 2020 Season, I wanted to say THANK YOU!

Having tiptoed our way through this very unusual time, I know we will begin next season with a renewed sense of gratitude for one another… Our dancers, our staff, our board, our volunteers, our supporters, our students and our audience.

The commitment to create art that impacts, uplifts and inspires has only become stronger during this time. What a magnificent thing it is to look forward to seeing you all at the theatre and in the studio. Stay well, Ballet Palm Beach has big plans!

 

 

Colleen Smith
Ballet Palm Beach Artistic Director
CLICK TO SUPPORT US

(Palm Beach Gardens, FL –April 29, 2020) Ballet Palm Beach Academy, the official school of the county’s professional ballet company, Ballet Palm Beach, connected to quarantined students with the “Tutu Project” in honor of International Dance Day.

Colleen Smith, both Artistic Director of the professional ballet company and School Director of the Academy, organized the “Tutu Project” to uplift over 125 dance students. Academy faculty, clad in BPB t-shirts and tutus, drove from Boca Raton to Stuart delivering each student a special gift- a tutu- and offering words of love and support to the families. Students were encouraged to be creative by decorating and dancing in the tutu and to share pictures of their work with fellow classmates in honor of International Dance Day.

“We have been offering tuition-free, virtual classes for our students, but I wanted to do something more,” said Smith. “The Tutu Project created a fun activity to keep them engaged with dance and to remind them how much we teachers care about them! Although temporarily apart, we are together in spirit!”

See the TUTU PROJECT video HERE

Photo: BPB Academy student Teagan Albano; photo by Lani Scozzari

 

Ballet Palm Beach, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Palm Beach Opera and Palm Beach Symphony  collaborate to create online video of Barry Manilow’s “One Voice” presented by  the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County

West Palm Beach, Fla. (April 20, 2020) – Major arts organizations of Palm Beach County, Florida are connecting with their community and audiences throughout the country who are coping with isolation with “One Voice,” an unprecedented cross-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration that brings together music, dance and theater in an inspiring online performance.

Presented by the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County, the video found on PBCCCutube proudly showcases the amazing talent from Ballet Palm Beach, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Palm Beach Opera and Palm Beach Symphony in an engaging, entertaining video performance set to Barry Manilow’s “One Voice.”

David McClymont, CEO of Palm Beach Symphony, which is the Cultural Council’s 2020 Muse Award recipient for Outstanding Community Engagement, said “While theaters and concert halls are dark, arts organizations and artists have found they can break through social isolation online, giving us hope, shining a light through darkness and providing uplifting content that connects us as one. In speaking with our collaborators, it was clear that we all feel this is vital to support our community. Although I am unaware of this taking place in any other region, I proposed a video collaboration as a unique opportunity for us to bring our separate disciplines together in a way we have never experienced before.”

McClymont suggested all the artists perform alone in their living rooms, a familiar setting to millions of Americans searching for a connection with others. The video was produced by Andrew Kato, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s producing artistic director and chief executive, and edited by Jeff Barry, the Theatre’s director of media, with audio engineering by Marty Mets, the Theatre’s resident sound designer. The final video features the contributions of nearly two dozen artists.

Brenna Epstein, from the Maltz Jupiter Theatre Goldner Conservatory of Performing Arts, opens the video and then is joined by fellow Conservatory students Chase Bauer, Jaelyn Korkin, Gabriela Smith and Cosette Gresh, all of whom rehearsed under the direction of the Conservatory’s Director of Education Julie Rowe.

“I suggested the song ‘One Voice’ because the lyrics speak to the isolation we feel and how we can come together as one unified county,” Kato said. “One lone voice is joined by another and another and then is joined by a chorus of voices, instruments and movements that unite to shine a light on Palm Beach County and the unparalleled, unique cultural arts we all contribute to our community. I’m extremely proud of the quality and diversity of work that is being created in South Florida.”

The score is performed by Palm Beach Symphony principal musicians Valentin Mansurov (violin), Claudio Jaffé (cello), Anna Brumbaugh (clarinet), Domingo Pagliuca (trombone) and Evan Saddler (drum kit and percussion) who are joined by fellow Symphony musicians Huifang Chen (violin), Scott O’Donnell (viola), Kevin Karabell (trumpet), Jeff Adkins (electric bass guitar) and Aziz Sapaev (acoustic guitar).

Recent graduates from Palm Beach Opera’s Benenson Young Artist Program and Bailey Apprentice Artist Program, the company’s nationally-recognized training programs for emerging artists, lent their voices from around the nation: soprano Patricia Westley (South Carolina); soprano Suzannah Waddington (Pennsylvania); mezzo-soprano Jenny Anne Flory (Virginia); tenor Duke Kim (California); and bass-baritone Ted Allen Pickell (California).

“We are deeply honored to be a part of this project, presented by the Cultural Council, which is a natural mechanism to unite our organizations in this way,” said Palm Beach Opera General Director David Walker. “We are thrilled to be featuring recent graduates of our nationally recognized resident artist training programs, as this is a vital moment where we can all harness our collective performing power to bring positivity, strength and solidarity to all of us during this time. It is now more than ever that we all need to lean into the power of the performing arts, and into our connections and collaborations with each other, to help us remain heartened and enriched while we all weather this storm together.”

Lily Ojea Loveland, an original member of the Ballet Palm Beach Company who is now in her 11th season with the company, performs the dance solo she mastered in remote rehearsals with the Company’s Founding Artist Director Colleen Smith.

“This is a time when we have to look at what we do as artists and tap into what motivates us,” said Smith, who is offering tuition free remote classes to her students. “Maybe you can only dance in your living room, but you can take classes and see performances that were never available before. The gifting of art now is huge and what artists and their organizations are allowing us to do is amazing.”

The four non-profit arts organizations are preparing to launch their programming for the 2020/21 season with mainstage performances held at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. To learn more visit BalletPalmBeach.org, JupiterTheatre.org, PBOpera.org and PalmBeachSymphony.org.

“Now more than ever, we need the arts to help us grieve, heal and connect,” said Dave Lawrence, president & CEO of the Cultural Council. “The One Voice project is a shining example of the strength of our cultural community and its ability to come together to celebrate the importance of the arts in our lives.”

The Cultural Council for Palm Beach County is the only organization solely dedicated to supporting arts and culture in The Palm Beaches, Florida’s Cultural Capital®. In its sustaining effort to foster growth of the cultural sector, the Council provides support services to cultural organizations and creative professionals, administers public and private grant programs, advocates for cultural funding, enhances local arts education, and promotes cultural tourism.

On Friday January 31st, 2020, Ballet Palm Beach introduced the Anka Fund for Dancers at its annual fundraiser, Dance Revealed II–Swept Away Soiree, held at the Rinker Playhouse at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.

The cocktail event, sponsored in part by Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design, Robin Woodard, Flowermart, and Big Time Restaurant Group, featured a performance by the ballet company, presented by Founder and Artistic Director, Colleen Smith. Auctioneer, Neil Saffer, led the live auction. In attendance was ballet legend, Steve Caras, who lauded Anka Palitz and her creation of the Anka Fund for Dancers. The fund will directly support salaries for the professional dancers of Ballet Palm Beach.

The evening raised over $100,000.

Photos by Capehart

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL – BALLET PALM BEACH (BPB) today announced that esteemed patron Ms. Anka Palitz has inaugurated the first-ever fund to seed support for the company’s professional dancers throughout their careers.  BPB’s Founder and Artistic Director Colleen Smith said: “We are so grateful to Anka for her generosity to and advocacy for BPB over the years.  On January 31st, we look forward to celebrating Anka at our annual gala event, of which she is the Honorary Chair.”

After her own successful career at Revlon and later as owner of Decart Designs in New York, Ms. Palitz herself transitioned to a new career, now spanning several decades as an active dance aficionado and cultural philanthropist.  She has devoted her life to manifesting her passion for theatrical dance by helping to sustain dance companies such as American Ballet Theatre, as well as by developing programs to promote the health and education of young dancers as they train to become professionals.  She has also sponsored individual professional dancers through their transitions to post-performing careers.  Since moving to the Palm Beaches, Anka’s focus shifted to include several local arts organizations.  For dance, she chose Ballet Palm Beach.  Ten years ago she founded and sponsored, and then in 2019 was honored by, the glamorous Heart & Soul benefit for Career Transitions for Dancers, a program of The Actors Fund.

Ballet Palm Beach, Palm Beach County’s only extant, home-grown professional ballet company founded by Ms. Smith in 2001, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to preserving the art of classical ballet, cultivating new visions in choreography, positively influencing the young through the discipline of dance, and enriching the community through this universal art form.  Every year BPB produces main stage ballets as well as outreach productions for audiences in various local venues as well as abroad.

The gala event, “Swept Away Soirée,” honoring Anka Palitz will take place in The Rinker Playhouse at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach, on Friday, January 31st beginning at 6pm.  Tickets may be purchased for $200 online at www.balletpalmbeach.org or by calling BPB at (561) 630-8235.

Photo (c) Steven Caras, all rights reserved.

Ballet Palm Beach’s Cinderella filled with rich performances

Reposted from Palm Beach Daily News
Mon, Nov 4, 2019

By Demetrius Klein
Special to the Palm Beach Daily News

“Ballet Palm Beach brought a clean, smart, chamber version of Cinderella to the Rinker Playhouse at The Kravis Center.

This familiar story, set to the score by Sergei Prokofiev, is told with depth and clarity by the nearly 20-year resident professional ballet ensemble of the Palm Beaches.

The company is able to simultaneously build storyline and develop characters while pruning away any unnecessary pageantry and pomp one would associate with big, evening-length ballets.

The dancers of Ballet Palm Beach are of a uniformly high quality, all mature and deeply expressive in their approach to movement. The go-to stylistic movement choice for Cinderella seems to be a lush, weighted cross between Demi Character and neoclassical.

This unique mix is applied generously across all of the characters and adds a deliciously windswept quality to the entire cast. This is perhaps most evident in the central pas de deux featuring Lily Oj ea Loveland as the title character and Rafael Ferreras as her prince.

Their intimate yet sweeping duet circles, arches and scallops, never settling yet beautifully grounded.

The four fairies of the seasons — Danielle Glynn, Madison Braaksma, Madeleine Miller and Shannon Murray — are also outstanding in their nuance and phrasing during their Act One variations.

Finally, Aurelio Guimaraes and Reinhard von Rabenau are comic gold as the bumbling, preening ugly stepsisters; they manage to project as mean, evil and self-centered while remaining somehow lovable.

Like most two – act story ballets, Cinderella struggles to find a balance in such a short span.

Ballet Palm Beach solves this problem by simply streamlining the narrative while still managing to tell a coherent story.

Since there isn’t a giant corps de ballet to feature in the second act, the usually draggy ballroom sections are moved along in favor of getting to the central narrative action: Cinderella and the prince meeting each other.

It is indeed astounding that this ballet never has more than fifteen dancers onstage at once and yet manages to look com plete and well-crafted at all times.

Let’s hope Ballet Palm Beach can continue to program well-executed and intelligent work as it grows to reach larger audiences.”
Thank you for the review, Demetrius Klein!

{CLICK HERE FOR UPCOMING SHOWS}

Tenth Year of International Outreach Performances for Ballet Ambassadors

(Palm Beach Gardens, FL –Oct 11, 2019) Ballet Palm Beach’s international outreach program, Ballet Ambassadors, brought Artistic Director, Colleen Smith; six company dancers, Danielle Glynn, Rafael Ferreras, Madeleine Miller, Lily Ojea Loveland, Shannon Murray, and Adriana Salazar; and two guests, Mark Baccash, a patron of Ballet Palm Beach, and William Fritz, a graduate from Dreyfoos School of the Arts and current student of USC Film School, to Cuba from September 21st to September 27th to present free performances.

The National Cuban Council of Churches and host church, Inglesia Presbiteria Reformada in Varadero, invited Ballet Palm Beach’s Ballet Ambassadors to make their fourth visit to Cuba. In the span of the week, Ballet Ambassadors toured three cities, Varadero, Havana, and Cardenas, and the dancers performed in four shows at various venues: places of worship, a theater, and a community center. At the International Prayer for Peace event, this year held in Cuba, the Ballet Ambassadors were featured guests, representing the U.S.A. The dancers also performed in the 500th anniversary celebration of Havana.

The toured show was a mixed bill, fusing traditional Cuban and American-styled pieces along with classical ballet. The troupe performed a Cuban mambo-inspired piece; Colleen Smith’s Heaven’s Declare, a contemporary work using Appalachian music; and, new to Ballet Palm Beach’s repertoire, Smith’s Ineffable, a romantic neoclassic piece set to music by Chopin.

“We first went to Cuba in the summer of 2011, and we have formed strong relationships with our hosts ever since. We are grateful to have this unique opportunity to share our art with the Cuban audiences and serve communities that might not have experienced live ballet otherwise. Their passion and love for the performing arts inspires us,” says Smith.

The outreach program, Ballet Ambassadors, started in 2009 and has taken Ballet Palm Beach’s professional company dancers and advanced Ballet Palm Beach Academy students to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cuba, Russia, and Hungary. All efforts by the dancers and artistic staff are voluntary.

To support Ballet Palm Beach’s outreach and artistic efforts, click here

Because loving ballet is something to be flaunted….
Strut your stuff with our online Ballet Palm Beach merch store!

*CLICK HERE*

Join Ballet Palm Beach for monthly family-friendly fundraising events organized by the Friends of Ballet Palm Beach!

FEBRUARY 2020

Fri, Feb 7, 2020
6pm-8pm
At Kendra Scott in The Gardens Mall
Enjoy sips, sweets, and jewels!
20% of sales benefit Ballet Palm Beach
Can’t make it to the store?
Phone orders accepted: 561-693-6592

** Stay tuned for more!**

The Middle & Upper School of Ballet Palm Beach Academy and BPB Trainees will present a special performance on Sun, June 9 at 7:30.

This show is held at the Rinker Playhouse at Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and is open to the public for $30.
The mixed bill contains scenes from Coppelia; an exciting tribute to Bob Fosse; and original works from Marshall Levin, Donna Morgan, Donna Murray, and Janine Harris will be danced by students.

For tickets, call the Kravis Box office at 561-832-7469 or click here.

Photo: (c) Janine Harris
Dancer, BPB Academy Alumna, Libby Faber

{CLICK FOR TICKETS}

BALLET PALM BEACH Invites Dance Fans to Celebrate Mother’s Day Weekend 

WONDERLAND

At The King’s Academy in West Palm Beach

May 10-12, 2019

(Palm Beach Gardens, FL – April 5, 2019) Colleen Smith, Artistic Director of Ballet Palm Beach today announced that the highly acclaimed professional ballet company is inviting fans of both classical dance and children’s literature to celebrate Mother’s Day Weekend by seeing WONDERLAND at The King’s Academy in West Palm Beach.

May 10-12

+ Friday at 7 pm
+ Saturday at 1 pm & 7 pm
+ Sunday at 4 pm

WONDERLAND

Ballet Palm Beach performs this whimsical ballet with a fresh interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice (danced by Shannon Murray) is a young Victorian girl who tumbles unexpectedly into a fantasy realm. Chasing after the White Rabbit (Sunny Hsieh), she encounters a kaleidoscope of curiosities that lead her into the clutches of the Queen of Hearts. From there, it all gets “curiouser and curiouser.”

An original ballet choreographed by Colleen Smith, Wonderland, premiered in 2013 and features the music of distinctly English composers Benjamin Britten, Gustav Holst, and William Walton. It weaves the reality of Alice’s Victorian England to the colorful fantasy and nonsense of Wonderland.  “I wanted to use English composers who would have known the work of Lewis Carroll and whose music exuded the sound of an English countryside,” says Smith.

The original story was told over 150 years ago by Charles Dodgson, also known as Lewis Carroll, to young sisters Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell while on a boat trip from Oxford to Godstow, England.  When young Alice grew restless and begged for a story “with lots of nonsense in it,” the author spun out the now famous tale, which he later published to worldwide acclaim.

“The history behind the book fascinates me,” admits Smith. “When creating the ballet, we tried to bring alive on stage what young Alice was thinking that afternoon as she listened to the story for the first time.”

After seeing an earlier production of Wonderland, Palm Beach Arts Paper reviewer Rex Hearn gushed, “Smith has captured the essence of Carroll’s crazy, zany, mixed-up madness… With creativity of this caliber, Palm Beach County can be proud… the arts are exploding here.”

Wonderland will have four performances at The King’s Academy Page Family Center for Performing Arts, located at 8401 Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach.

How to Purchase Tickets to WONDERLAND:

Tickets range from $30 to $45 and may be purchased by visiting www.balletpalmbeach.org or by calling 888.718.4253

About Ballet Palm Beach:

Ballet Palm Beach (BPB), the professional ballet company of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) ballet company dedicated to preserving the art of classical ballet by cultivating new visions in choreography, impacting the next generation through the discipline of dance, and enriching the community through this universal art form. Established in 2001, the company has become a fixture in Palm Beach County. Each year BPB produces main stage ballets as well as outreach shows, both locally and abroad. For more information about the professional company or its school, Ballet Palm Beach Academy, or to support BPB’s outreach efforts call 561.630.8235 or visit www.balletpalmbeach.org.

{TO SEE OUR UPCOMING SHOW, WONDERLAND: CLICK HERE}

Republished with permission from BroadwayWorld.com https://bit.ly/2YtUk4Y

Review: PREMIERES at Ballet Palm Beach

 Mar. 26, 2019

Ballet Palm Beach presented a rare offering for their audience tonight with a group of pieces that can hardly be categorized. “Premieres” boasted three world premiere pieces and ‘Sonatine’; a rarely performed Balanchine. Supported by Artistic Director Colleen Smith, and underwritten in part by Rob and Amy Swan, these special moments of performance art came alive and stole the breath of the viewers – the artistry only enhanced by the intimacy of the Rinker Playhouse at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.

The evening’s performance opened with “The Russ and Ellen Show, a love story circa 1945” which was written, directed, and choreographed by Donna Goffredo Murray. It was a treasure of living history. Narrator and dancer Brittany Bonefas sang so beautifully familiar tunes like “Pennies from Heaven” and “Til the End of Time” to transport everyone to the 1940’s. Fusing ballet, musical theatre, and swing, the jitterbug execution was a flurry of light blue and red fabric as the ensemble smiled their way through the piece. Madeleine Miller brought fun and life to her portrayal of Ellen, and Aurélio Guimarães was charming as Russ, especially with his hat choreography.

The mood shifted from light and fun to a serious tone with the classical ‘Sonatine’, choreographed by George Balanchine and brought to Ballet Palm Beach by Répétiteur Zippora Karz. Accompanied on the piano by the talented Cassie Mara Makeeff, the music by Maurice Ravel drove the piece like the wind moves the leaves as Lily Ojea Loveland and Aaron Melendrez seemingly effortlessly glided through the air. The Pas de Deux evoked irreverence, connection, and just when the phrases seemed disconnected, they were conjoined. A particularly memorable moment was when Lily focused out towards the audience and Aaron took her hand from either side repeatedly until eventually spinning her arabesque – triumphant.

‘Into the Woods’ by Christopher Huggins was an original and breathtaking piece that left everyone wanting more. Alvin Ailey’s influence was apparent in the work in the shapes and expression, but there was a voice in the movement that was entirely unique. The juxtapositioning of extensions and compressions conveyed both play and deep emotion. ‘Into the Woods’ could definitely be the start of the full length piece. Loved the journey of the three dancers.

The final piece of the evening, ‘fra ct ured’, reminded me of a museum like the Louvre or the Uffizi. Choreographed by Gina Patterson to music by Philip Glass and Antonio Vivaldi, ‘fra ct ured’ was unlike any other dance piece. Highlighted by lighting designer Chris Pennington, the dancers first presented statuesque still lifes before they sprang into what can be described as neoclassical ballet meets modern meets everyday life. The dance itself was fractured, the costumes were as well with blended grey tones, and the piece presented an artistic array of moments, totally disconnected, yet reminiscent of daily life. The connections between dancers both evolved and dissolved in an instant, so much so that the audience was shocked into applause as the dancers continued to pose in the darkness.

How to Purchase Tickets to PREMIERES:

Tickets are $45 each and may be purchased by visiting www.balletpalmbeach.org or by calling 800.572.8471. The Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse is located at 701 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach, FL.

Photo Credit: (c) Janine Harris, all rights reserved

 

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