Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Ballet Tech's Kids Dance to Return to the Joyce for First New York Season Since 2019

Six performances take place June 9-12.

Ballet Tech's Kids Dance to Return to the Joyce for First New York Season Since 2019

Ballet Tech's Kids Dance will return to The Joyce Theater (175 Eighth Avenue) with a program devised by the organization's new artistic director, Dionne D. Figgins. The production celebrates founder Eliot Feld, featuring some of his early Kids Dance pieces as part of Ballet Tech's expanding repertory. The students will also dance John Heginbotham's Manhattan Research and works commissioned from Ballet Tech faculty members Michael Snipe Jr. and Men Ca. Six performances take place June 9-12.

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 five boroughs 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.

The company's 2022 New York season at The Joyce, performed by the students and Ballet Tech alumnae Raven Barkley (Charlotte Ballet) and Asia Yu, will include early Kids Dance classics choreographed by Feld: excerpts, staged by Jacquelyn Scafidi Allsopp, of Hello Fancy (1992), to selections from John Playford's The English Dancing Master performed by the New York Renaissance Band; and the first movement of 23 Skidoo (1994), with music by Bohuslav Martinů, also staged by Scafidi Allsopp. The students will also perform Eureka!, a new work choreographed by Figgins and Ballet Tech Level 5 students, set to music by Ludwig van Beethoven, arranged by Drake Anderson; Marius Petipa's Raymonda (1898), with music by Alexander Glazunov and costumes by Vernon Ross; and the Kids Dance premiere of John Heginbotham's Manhattan Research (2022), featuring Raymond Scott music and costumes by Maile Okamura, constructed with Ballet Tech sixth grade students and visual arts teacher Richela Morgan.

Ballet Tech is committed to building a library of new choreography imagined for and designed on emerging dancers-to give fledgling dancers opportunities to hone their skills and whet their imaginations. New commissions premiering in the 2022 Kids Dance season at The Joyce include two works by Ballet Tech faculty members: Men Ca's Guardians (2022), whose music is by Joseph Trapanese and Max Richter, and whose costumes are by Vernon Ross; and Michael Snipe Jr.'s Infrastructure (2022), with music by Kerry Muzzey and costumes by Vernon Ross. These new dances expand a Kids Dance repertory that already includes works by Julia Eichten, Brian Brooks, Stephanie Terasaki, Conner Bormann, and Riley O'Flynn, and Laura Careless, in addition to Eliot Feld.

Lighting for the Kids Dance season at The Joyce is by Aaron Copp.

Kids Dance performances take place Thursday, June 9, at 7pm; Friday, June 10, at 7pm; Saturday, June 11, at 2pm and 7pm; and Sunday, June 12, at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at joyce.org.

About the Artists

Eliot Feld (Founder of Ballet Tech) was born in Brooklyn, New York 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 (Artistic Director) 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. When the company went on a 2 year hiatus in 2004, Ms. Figgins turned her sights to Broadway, and was eventually cast in the original Broadway company of Hot Feet, where she understudied the leading role. After Hot Feet, Ms. Figgins moved to LA where she appeared in Smokey Joe's Cafe, which garnered her an Ovation Nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical. She returned to NY to perform in the original casts of Memphis, and Motown: the Musical. She served as assistant choreographer for 2012's Leap of Faith on Broadway. Her television credits include Flesh and Bone, The 80th Annual Academy Awards, and House, and her film credits include Across the Universe, Walk Hard, Louis, and Bolden.

John Heginbotham (Choreographer). Originally from Alaska, John Heginbotham graduated from The Juilliard School (1993), and was a member of Mark Morris Dance Group (1998-2012). In 2011, he founded Dance Heginbotham, a contemporary dance company based in Brooklyn, which has been presented and commissioned by Baryshnikov Arts Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others. John received a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2014 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award. As a freelance choreographer, John's projects include RACECAR for The Washington Ballet (2019); the Tony Award-winning revival of Oklahoma!, directed by Daniel Fish (Bard Summerscape, 2015; St.Ann's Warehouse, 2018; Broadway, 2019; National Tour, 2021/22); and John Adams' Girls of the Golden West, directed by Peter Sellars (San Francisco Opera, 2017; Dutch National Opera, 2019). John is the Director of the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble, and is a founding teacher of Dance for PD®.

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.

Michael Snipe Jr. (Choreographer) received his BFA from Juilliard in dance, with Choreographic Honors. He has performed with Ailey II, Battleworks Dance Company, and the Parsons Dance Company. He has also performed in Swing! and Movin' Out on Broadway, and the National Tour. Mr. Snipe has taught at the Joffrey Ballet School, the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C., Columbia College in Chicago, Ailey Extension, Kanyok Arts Initiative, and MOVE NYC. He joined Ballet Tech as a full-time faculty member in 2015, and in 2021, he was appointed rehearsal director. This is Michael's Joyce Theater choreographic debut, and he couldn't be more proud of and grateful to his cast and fellow faculty members for helping this dream become a reality.

About Ballet Tech

The idea for Ballet Tech was years ahead of its time when it first came to Eliot Feld in 1977. Sharing a subway car at rush hour with a group of giddy public school children on a field trip-kids going somewhere fun and different-Feld had an aha! moment. Surely, sprinkled among the tens of thousands of elementary public school children in NYC there were countless kids with an aptitude for dance, and who had had little or no opportunity to receive the early training necessary to grow into the dancers they might be one day. When he emerged from the train and arrived at the Feld Ballet studios at 890 Broadway, he and Cora Cahan, founding Executive Director (1974- 1991) of the Feld Ballet Company and of soon-to-be-created New Ballet School, conceived the first incarnation of the Ballet Tech School. (Feld's vast legacy also includes the establishment, with Cahan, of both The Joyce Theater and Lawrence A. Wien Center for Dance and Theatre at 890 Broadway.) Just six months later, with the approval of the NYC Department of Education, auditions were being held at elementary schools throughout the city. Soon children with physical potential and enthusiasm for dancing were being bused by the DOE to Feld's studios on lower Broadway to begin their dance education-in genres ranging from ballet to modern dance-tuition-free. Talent, passion, a love to dance, and being a 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade student at a NYC public school were the only criteria for admission.

In 1996, in cooperation with innovative educator and District 2 Superintendent Anthony Alvarado, and with the blessing of the NYC Department of Education, Ballet Tech became a freestanding public school, the NYC Public School for Dance. As a cooperative venture between a public entity, the NYC Department of Education, and a private foundation, the Ballet Tech Foundation, the school was a groundbreaking new model. There the DOE provides a rigorous academic curriculum, grades 4-8, and the Foundation provides intensive ballet training augmented with modern dance, tap, jazz, theater dance, and choreographic repertory. The student population includes children from all five boroughs and mirrors the diversity of the city's public school system.

Since its founding, Ballet Tech has grown exponentially. When it was founded in 1977, Ballet Tech was able to audition in eight New York City public schools around NYC. In 2018-19, the organization auditioned 19,891 students in 199 schools for its tuition-free ballet training, and, over the course of its history, 26,589 children have been invited to participate in Ballet Tech's Introduction to Ballet classes. The students with physical aptitude and enthusiasm for classical dance and the rigors of requisite early training are invited to Ballet Tech's full-time school.

Each year, Kids Dance performs at The Joyce Theater, in works choreographed for them by Feld and other celebrated choreographers. The New York Times has called Kids Dance "a New York City treasure." Ballet Tech 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, and on Broadway.

But Ballet Tech prepares children for future success in any number of fields-not just dance. Academically, the student body ranks in the top percentiles on NYS standardized tests. They go on to study at colleges and universities including Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Juilliard, Duke, Brandeis, and NYU, and to pursue a wide range of careers.

For more information about Ballet Tech, please visit www.ballettech.org.

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.



Related Articles


More Hot Stories For You