Ballet Tech's KIDS DANCE to Return to The Joyce This Summer

Performances take place June 8, 9, and 10 at 7pm, and June 10 and 11 at 2pm.

By: May. 22, 2023
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Ballet Tech's KIDS DANCE to Return to The Joyce This Summer

Ballet Tech’s Kids Dance will return to The Joyce Theater (175 Eighth Avenue) June 8-11 following an acclaimed production last year. Devised by Ballet Tech artistic director Dionne D. Figgins, the production celebrates dance as a unifying force in American culture. The program features two new pieces Figgins choreographed collaboratively—one with Curtis Holland and one with the Ballet Tech Class of 2023—as well as dances by Ballet Tech founder Eliot Feld, José Limón, Robert La Fosse and Brian Reeder, and Ballet Tech faculty member Men Ca. Ballet Tech alumnus Johnson Guo, who is now a member of the Limón Dance Company, will dance José Limón’s Chaconne.

Performances take place June 8, 9, and 10 at 7pm, and June 10 and 11 at 2pm. (The June 8 performance is followed by an opening night gala, and so is an abbreviated program.) Tickets are $10-45 and can be purchased at joyce.org and 212-242-0800.

At the Joyce, Ballet Tech students will perform dances in a wide range of styles: ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and more. The program includes:

A Yankee Doodle (2015)

Choreographed by Eliot Feld

Staged by Asia Yiu, Megan Eng, and Zuzu Park-Stettner

Music: Fife and Drum / American Potluck

Costumes by Michael Krass

Lighting by Aaron Copp

Chaconne (1942)

Choreographed by José Limón

Dancer: Ballet Tech alumnus Johnson Guo

Music by J.S. Bach

Staging & Direction by Savannah Spratt

Lighting by Aaron Copp

Ad Lib City (2023, world premiere)

Choreographed by Robert La Fosse and Brian Reeder

Music: “Ad Lib on Nippon” by Duke Ellington

Costumes by Vernon Ross

Lighting by Aaron Copp

Embers Of… (2023, world premiere)

Choreographed by Men Ca

Music: “Blue World” by John Coltrane

Costumes by Vernon Ross

Lighting by Aaron Copp

1956 (2023, world premiere)

Choreographed by Dionne Figgins and Curtis Holland

Music by George & Ira Gershwin, “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

Costumes by Vernon Ross

Lighting by Aaron Copp

Achoo, Adieu (2023, world premiere)

Choreographed by Dionne Figgins with the Class of 2023

Music by Ludovico Einaudi, Daniel Hope & I Virtuosi Italiano

Additional music played by Aiden Concepcion

Costumes by Dionne Figgins

Lighting by Aaron Copp

Founded by Eliot Feld in 1978 and led by Dionne D. Figgins since August 2021, Ballet Tech each year introduces hundreds of New York City public school children to the beauty and rigor of classical dance, and operates the NYC Public School for Dance with the NYC Department of Education, providing intensive ballet training augmented with modern dance, tap, jazz, theater dance, and choreographic repertory. The student population includes children from all over the city and mirrors the diversity of the city’s public school system. Alumni have gone on to dance with acclaimed companies such as Alvin Ailey, Abraham in Motion, Ballet Hispanico, Charlotte Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Martha Graham, New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, on Broadway, and in film and television.

Kids Dance, created in 1994, provides students with the opportunity to learn choreography and develop performance skills—activities that are essential to the development of a professional dancer. Kids Dance presents programs for families and young audiences, and performs annually at The Joyce Theater (another institution Feld founded, with Cora Cahan). Kids Dance has also performed at New York City Center, the New Victory Theater, and the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Last year’s Kids Dance production at the Joyce—the first since 2019—prompted The New York Times to write, “The kids are still alright.”

About the Artists

Eliot Feld

(Choreographer; Founder of Ballet Tech) was born in Brooklyn  and studied dance at the School of American Ballet, New Dance Group, High School of Performing Arts, and with Richard Thomas. At age eleven he danced with the New York City Ballet as the Child Prince in Balanchine's original production of The Nutcracker as well as with the companies of Donald McKayle, Pearl Lang, Sophie Maslow and Mary Anthony. At sixteen he joined the Broadway cast of West Side Story and appeared as Baby John in the movie version, and later danced on Broadway in I Can Get It for You Wholesale and Fiddler on the Roof. Mr. Feld danced with American Ballet Theatre, American Ballet Company and Feld Ballets/NY. Eliot Feld has choreographed 149 ballets since 1967, creating dances for American Ballet Theatre, American Ballet Company, Royal Danish Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, John Curry Skating Company, The Juilliard School, The National Ballet of Canada, Royal Swedish Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, London Festival Ballet, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Richmond Ballet, New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, Ballet Tech, and Kids Dance, among others.

Dionne D. Figgins

(Choreographer; Artistic Director of Ballet Tech) was born in Memphis, TN and grew up in Washington DC, training at Jones-Haywood School of Ballet and the Dance Institute of Washington. She briefly attended Goucher College, where she was cast as the lead Russian girl in Balanchine’s Serenade by NYCB soloist Zippora Karz. Ms. Karz encouraged Ms. Figgins to audition for Dance Theatre of Harlem and in 2000, Ms. Figgins joined DTH’s corps de ballet. With DTH, Figgins performed leading roles in Agon, Serenade, Four Temperaments, and Concerto Barocco. Ms. Figgins has also performed with Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Forces of Nature Dance Company.  In 2004, Ms. Figgins turned her sights to Broadway during a hiatus at Dance Theatre of Harlem, and was eventually cast in the original Broadway company of Hot Feet.  She has also appeared in the original casts of Memphis the Musical (2010 Tony winner for Best Musical), Motown: the Musical (Diana Ross understudy and dance captain) and served as assistant choreographer for Leap of Faith on Broadway.  Ms. Figgins’ work in the musical Smokey Joe’s Cafe has garnered her an Ovation Award Nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical, Chita Rivera Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress in an Off-Broadway Musical, and a Chita Rivera Award for Best Ensemble in an Off-Broadway Musical.  She is the co-founder of Broadway Serves, an affiliate organization of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and an active member of the Tony Nominating Committee.

Aaron Copp

(Lighting Designer). Copp’s recent design projects include the Broadway productions of The Old Man And The Pool and The New One, Mass at the Kennedy Center (scenic and lighting designs), Red State Blue State for Colin Quinn at the Minetta Lane, Candide at Tanglewood Music Center, One Line Drawn by Brian Brooks for Miami City Ballet, Newsies at Village Theater, and Shahrazad for The Royal Ballet of Flanders. Music projects include designs for The Silk Road Ensemble, Natalie Merchant, The Goat Rodeo Sessions, SO Percussion, Maya Beiser and the Bang On A Can All-Stars.  Aaron has designed for The Old Globe, The Kennedy Center, Dallas Theater Center, and other major theaters around the country.  He has worked extensively in the dance world, and in 2008 received his second Bessie Award for Jonah Bokaer’s The Invention Of Minus One.  He had a long association with Merce Cunningham, designing such pieces as Ground Level Overlay, Windows, and Biped, for which he also won a Bessie.

Johnson Guo

(Guest Artist): From Brooklyn NY, Johnson was selected to train at the Ballet Tech Program at the age of 8. For 10 years, he had the wonderful opportunity to work closely with Eliot Feld and perform in Ballet Tech’s Joyce seasons. Johnson continued his dance education at the Conservatory at SUNY Purchase. There, he was introduced to American modern techniques and to the contemporary dance world. Now, Johnson is dancing at the José Limón Dance Company.

Robert La Fosse

(Choreographer) joined New York City Ballet in 1986 as a principal dancer after a nine-year career with American Ballet Theatre, which he joined in 1977. For the Broadway stage, Mr. La Fosse starred in Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ and Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, for which he received a 1989 Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. In addition to his performing career, Mr. La Fosse is also an established choreographer who has created over 75 works for ballet, opera, musical theater, film and television. He currently is on the faculty at American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and performs in the New York City Ballet’s annual production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker as Herr Drosselmeier.

José Limón

(Choreographer) (1908-1972) electrified the world with his dynamic masculine dancing and dramatic choreography. One of the 20th century’s most important and influential dance makers, he spent his entire career pioneering a new art form and fighting for the recognition and establishment of the American Modern Dance. Born in Culiacán, Mexico in 1908, he immigrated to California in 1915, and in 1928 Limón came to New York and saw his first dance program. Limón enrolled in the dance school of Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman and, from 1930 - 1940, performed in works created by his teachers. In 1946, with Doris Humphrey as Artistic Director, Limón formed his own company. Over the following 25 years, he established himself and his company as one of the major forces of 20th century dance. Limón was a key faculty member in The Juilliard School's Dance Division beginning in 1953 and continued choreographing until his death in 1972. Limón choreographed a total of seventy-four works, including The Moor’s Pavane, Missa Brevis, There is a Time, The Traitor, and Psalm.

Men Ca

(Choreographer). The bio-kemet-cal essence of Men Ca is in his name: mata is energy from the nucleus of the ca’nscious atam. A practitioner of defining that which he does through that which he is (i.e. Men Ca), his absolute Art and Science is to be conscious at all times in all times. Thus, deepen the life force energy of love and understanding. A third generation Lester Horton educator (educated by the unrivaled Dr. Elana Denise Anderson, who studied from James Truite), Men Ca resourcefully uses the technique as a medium for learners to actualize their Art & Science — Art, the Science of expressing; Science, the Art of knowing — aid their body to further activate the heart and mind. The Artist & Scientist.

Brian Reeder

(Choreographer). Brian Reeder’s performance years existed mainly within the exciting repertories of three major dance companies: New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt. His choreographic career sprung up in the early 2000’s with creative commissions coming from national and regional dance companies like ABT, Washington Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Colorado Ballet, as well as universities, colleges, and dance academies alike. He’s also had the opportunity over the years to work outside the dance concert forum with collaborations in movement for music video, independent film, commercial, fashion assignments, and musical theater. Brian has been invited to teach as either an adjunct professor or guest at several prestigious colleges, universities, dance schools, and companies throughout the years, such as Juilliard, Vassar, Brown, Barnard, Princeton, Ballet Hispanico, and Ailey II. Reeder has served as a coordinating director for summer dance programs internationally as well as rehearsal director for Cedar Lake Ballet and acted as resident choreographer for Ballet Next and currently is for Manhattan Youth Ballet. He is presently a part of the teaching faculties at Manhattan Youth Ballet, Eglevsky Ballet, and Ballet Tech.

Vernon Ross

(Costume Designer) began his professional career at Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1981 and worked with the professional dance company until 2004. His work in various areas of production ultimately led to his becoming the company’s wardrobe supervisor in 1991. In this role, he was responsible for overseeing and supervising the costume shop, dying of flesh-tone tights, working with the designers on new and existing productions, coordinating, and organizing all touring logistics, as well as fittings, repairs, cleaning, storage, and cataloging of all costumes. Throughout his career, Mr. Ross has toured extensively both nationally and internationally. Some of his noted accomplishments are designing costumes for Dance Theatre of Harlem’s school and Summer Intensive performances. From 1991 through 1999, he designed costumes for Dance Institute of Washington, formerly known as Reflections Dance Company. He designed the costumes for DIW’s inaugural Kwanzaa performance, which is still one of the company’s Signature Productions. He gives continuous gratitude and recognition for having the opportunity to work firsthand with Ms. Zelda Wynn, renowned African American fashion and costume designer who was the first wardrobe supervisor for Dance Theatre of Harlem. Mr. Ross currently works with the American Ballet Theatre as a wardrobe assistant supervisor for the principal and soloist male dancers.

ABOUT BALLET TECH

Mission and Organization Background

Ballet Tech Foundation is committed to introducing New York City public school children to the beauty, integrity, and joy of dance. Annually, we provide the rigorous dance training necessary to fulfill and nurture students' intrinsic dance talents, tuition free. We develop dancers and leaders of tomorrow by offering young people, who reflect the rich diversity of our city, a world class dance education that encompasses a wide variety of genres of movement and choreography, alongside an academic education in collaboration with the NYC Department of Education.

Since its founding in 1978 by choreographer Eliot Feld, Ballet Tech's programming has reached almost 943,000 children in 668 public elementary schools in NYC for its tuition-free ballet training program. Of those children, more than 27,000 have been invited to participate in Ballet Tech’s Introduction to Ballet classes. Students with a strong aptitude and enthusiasm for dance are invited to Ballet Tech’s full-time school where the 4th-8th graders receive intensive tuition-free dance training at Our Studios at 890 Broadway, and since 1996, a strong academic education on site as well by the NYC Department of Education.

Ballet Tech Across New York Enrichment Programs

Through Ballet Tech Across New York (BTANY), Ballet Tech offers two new in-school enrichment programs to our partner schools: Dance for EveryBODY introduces students to the various dance techniques taught at Ballet Tech; and BT Ballet Basics introduces students to the basic tenets of ballet. These tuition-free programs, tailored for 2nd and 3rd grade, are intended for students of all abilities. Ballet Tech also provides open auditions at its studios at 890 Broadway throughout the year.

Introduction to Ballet

Students participating in the tuition-free Enrichment programs that demonstrate an aptitude and enthusiasm for dance are invited to participate in the Introduction to Ballet program. The Intro students are bused by the NYC Department of Education from their local elementary schools to BT one morning a week for a 75-minute class for 6 weeks. Beginning the following fall, qualifying students from the Intro program are invited to apply for full-time enrollment at the New York City Public School for Dance.

New York City Public School for Dance: Grades 4-8

A joint venture with the NYC Department of Education, the NYC Public School for Dance (NYCPSD) provides an onsite academic curriculum integrated with intensive dance training at 890 Broadway. The DOE provides the academic faculty and curriculum; Ballet Tech provides the intensive dance training, dancewear, and transportation. The NYCPSD follows the public school calendar.

In addition to Ballet Technique, the dance curriculum includes Allegro (formerly “Boys Class”), Horton and Graham modern techniques, Jazz, Contemporary, Pilates, Repertory, and Composition.

Kids Dance

Created in 1994, Kids Dance, BT’s annual season at The Joyce Theater, provides the students with the opportunity to learn choreography, develop performance skills, and learn about stagecraft. In preparation for The Joyce season, students learn ballets created especially for them by dance faculty members and guest artists. Kids Dance is scheduled at The Joyce Theater June 8-11, 2023 and will include an Eliot Feld classic ballet.

Impact

Through the scaffolding approach to learning from the beginning classes to advanced, the five years of rigorous dance training serve as both the bedrock and springboard for the students’ future pursuits, whether in dance or another field. Ballet Tech tracks its graduates through their high school careers and beyond via its Alumni Program.

Ballet Tech is a community consisting of faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and donors. The entire community is united with the goal of ensuring that our students (the heart of our community), develop the values -- creativity, discipline, perseverance, confidence, critical thinking, and courage – and skills necessary to become leaders of tomorrow.

ABOUT The Joyce Theater

The Joyce Theater Foundation (“The Joyce,” Executive Director, Linda Shelton), a non-profit organization, has proudly served the dance community for almost four decades. Under the direction of founders Cora Cahan and Eliot Feld, Ballet Tech Foundation acquired and renovated the Elgin Theater in Chelsea. Opening as The Joyce Theater in 1982, it was named in honor of Joyce Mertz, beloved daughter of LuEsther T. Mertz. It was LuEsther’s clear, undaunted vision and abundant generosity that made it imaginable and ultimately possible to build the theater. Ownership was secured by The Joyce in 2015. The theater is one of the only theaters built by dancers for dance and has provided an intimate and elegant home for over 400 U.S.-based and international companies. The Joyce has also expanded its reach beyond its Chelsea home through off-site presentations at venues ranging in scope from Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, to Brooklyn’s Invisible Dog Art Center, and to outdoor programming in spaces such as Hudson River Park. To further support the creation of new work, The Joyce maintains longstanding commissioning and residency programs. Local students and teachers (K–12th grade) benefit from its school program, and family and adult audiences get closer to dance with access to artists. The Joyce’s annual season of about 48 weeks of dance now includes over 340 performances—both digital and in-person—for audiences in excess of 150,000.





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