American Repertory Ballet Presents DIAMOND GALA, 3/15

American Repertory Ballet Presents DIAMOND GALA, 3/15

On March 15, 2014, American Repertory Ballet will hold its annual Gala performance and reception, Diamond Gala, in downtown New Brunswick, NJ. The performance will begin at 6:00pm at Crossroads Theater, and the reception will begin at 7:00pm across the street at the Heldrich Hotel. The reception, designed by Cassandre Snyder Events and Design, will include a gourmet dinner, dancing to the music of The Kenny i Orchestra, live and silent auctions, and more. Princeton Ballet School students ages 12-18 years can enjoy a Junior Gala party with dinner, dancing and silent auction, also at the Heldrich Hotel.

American Repertory Ballet's annual gala celebrates and showcases the three branches of the organization: American Repertory Ballet, New Jersey's preeminent ballet company; its official school, Princeton Ballet School, one of the largest non-profit dance schools in the country; and ARB's Access & Enrichment programming. This year, Diamond Gala will also celebrate the diamond anniversary of the organization, which was established as Princeton Ballet Society in 1954. The Diamond Gala honorees are: Johnson & Johnson, for their outstanding support of ARB's DANCE POWER program; Covance and Lee and Joseph Herring, for their outstanding support of ARB's Nutcracker; and Princeton Ballet School faculty member Janell Byrne, the 2014 recipient of the Audrée Estey Award for Excellence in Dance Education.

Johnson & Johnson is a three-sector health care company with more than 275 operating companies in more than 60 countries employing approximately 128,700 people. Their worldwide headquarters is in New Brunswick, NJ. Johnson & Johnson's responsibility to its Credo inspires the corporation to advance the health of communities. They fulfill this mission by developing enduring partnerships that deliver community-based solutions to health and education challenges. DANCE POWER is a long-standing partnership between ARB and the New Brunswick School District that delivers these solutions to New Brunswick students. Now in its 29th year, ARB's DANCE POWER is the longest-running arts/community partnership in New Jersey. It brings dance education to all second and third grade students in New Brunswick Public Schools and awards select students full scholarships to study at Princeton Ballet School from fourth grade onward.

Covance, one of the world's largest and most comprehensive drug development services companies, has been sponsoring ARB's Nutcracker productions since 2010, when Artistic Director Douglas Martin's version of the production first took the stage. Their contributions have funded many aspects of the production, including designs by Carl Sprague: new sets for the Act II "Kingdom of Sweets" and Act I "Land of Snow" scenes and, for the company's 50th annual Nutcracker season, a new growing Christmas tree.

Janell Byrne has been teaching at Princeton Ballet School for 35 years. An accomplished and prolific choreographer, Byrne has created over 100 works, mainly for Mercer Dance Ensemble, of which she is the director. She has also created ballets for Teamwork Dance and Princeton Ballet School's Summer Intensive. She shares her knowledge of the craft of choreography with aspiring students, as the Director of Princeton Ballet School's Summer Intensive Choreography Lab. Mary Pat Robertson, Director of Princeton Ballet School, praises Byrne for her "extraordinary contribution to our school and our arts community, through her thorough teaching of dance technique, and her sophisticated choreography. She was one of the last teachers hired by our founder Audree Estey before her retirement, and it is an honor to present her now with the Audree Estey Award for Excellence in Dance Education."

The Diamond Gala performance at Crossroads Theatre will feature American Repertory Ballet, advanced students of Princeton Ballet School, and ARB's DANCE POWER Scholars. American Repertory Ballet will perform selections from the current repertory, including Douglas Martin's Firebird. Advanced students from Princeton Ballet School's Professional Training Program will perform excerpts from Sleeping Beauty. First and second year DANCE POWER Scholars will also perform a selection from Sleeping Beauty as well as a piece choreographed to Camille Saint-Saëns "The Carnival of the Animals."

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by Barnett Serchuk