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New York Theatre Ballet Set for New York Live Arts Benefit Next Weekend

New York Theatre Ballet invites you to attend NYTB at New York Live Arts Benefit on February 27, 2016. The evening includes a pre-performance dinner at 4:30pm at iTrulli followed by a performance of Legends & Visionaries at 7:30pm. iTrulli is located at 122 East 27th Street, NYC, and New York Live Arts is located at 219 W. 19th Street, NYC. Benefit tickets are $200 and include the dinner and one ticket to the performance. Please RSVP by February 20, 2016, by emailing Laura at or calling (212) 679-0401.

Legends & Visionaries runs from February 24-27, 2016 with performances on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 7:30pm; and Saturday at 2pm and 7:30pm. Tickets start at $15, and are available online at, by calling the Live Arts box office at 212.691.6500, or by visiting the box office, Monday-Saturday 1pm - 9pm and Sunday 1pm - 8pm.

New York Theatre Ballet will present four ballets in an unforgettable evening. The program includes: the NYTB Premiere of Jerome Robbins' Antique Epigraphs set to Debussy's "6 Épigraphes Antiques", staged by Kyra Nichols; the world premiere of San Francisco choreographer Milissa Payne Bradley's Chemical Bond set to "Serenade Op. 98 Apres un Reve" by Gabriel Fauré; Richard Alston's Such Longing set to "Mazurkas" by Frédéric Chopin, staged by Martin Lawrance; an Untitled World Premiere set to Philip Glass' Piano Etudes choreographed by Zhong-Jing Fang and Steven Melendez, featuring the NYU Steel Drum Ensemble led by Jonathan Haas, Director of NYU Percussion Program, and Josh Quillen, Director of the NYU Steel Drum Ensemble.

RICHARD ALSTON was born in Sussex in 1948. After an Eton College education, he went to the Croydon College of Art for two years. A performance by the Bolshoi Ballet provoked his interest in dance and a Royal Ballet performance of La Fille Mal Gardée confirmed it. He also saw the Merce Cunningham Dance Company performing modern works and began to take evening classes at the Rambert School of Ballet.

He was one of the original students at the London Contemporary Dance School and only three months after starting the full time contemporary dance course, he made his first contribution to the choreographic workshops with Transit (1968). In his third year at the school, Alston organised a small group of advanced students to tour a demonstration of Graham technique followed by a programme of two or three short works to schools colleges and universities.

Alston went on to choreograph for London Contemporary Dance Theatre (LCDT), before forming this country's first independent dance company, Strider, in 1972.

In 1975, he left for New York to study, principally with Merce Cunningham. On his return two years later he worked as an independent dance maker and teacher throughout Europe. During this period, he created Rainbow Bandit (1977) for LCDT and Doublework (1978) with his own dancers, for the first Dance Umbrella festival.

Alston was appointed as Resident Choreographer with Ballet Rambert in 1980. Two years later he co-founded Second Stride with Siobhan Davies and Ian Spink before assuming the Artistic Directorship of Ballet Rambert in 1986, a post he held until 1992. In 1987, the Company's name was changed to Rambert Dance Company to reflect the contemporary repertoire it now toured.

During these twelve years, Alston created twenty-five works for Rambert, in addition to commissioned works for the Royal Danish Ballet and the Royal Ballet. He also made Soda Lake (1981) and Dutiful Ducks (1982), two solo works for Michael Clark.

In 1992 he created Le Marteau Sans Maître (1992) for the Compagnie Chopinot in France, combining it with a revival ofRainbow Bandit (1977) to form an evening of his own work. With the creation of another full programme of work in 1994 for LCDT at the Aldeburgh Festival, it was a logical step for Alston to form his own company when he took up the post of Artistic Director of the The Place in Autumn 1994.

The Richard Alston Dance Company was launched in November 1994 to wide critical acclaim. A major television documentary about the creation of Sometimes I Wonder (1995), directed by Mark Kidell, was shown on Channel 4 in December 1996.

A joint venture between Richard Alston Dance Company and London Sinfonietta in May 1996 formed the climax to composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle's retrospective at the South Bank Centre, London, in which Secret Theatre (1996),Orpheus Singing and Dreaming (1996), and Bach Measures (1996, later retitled Beyond Measure) were performed.

In October 1998, Alston celebrated his 50th birthday and 30 years of choreography with a gala evening at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. Included in this retrospective was Sophisticated Curiosities, a medley of extracts from past works dating from 1970 to 1990.

In January 2001 Alston was awarded the CBE in the New Year Honours list and the Company performed at the royal reopening of the Robin Howard Dance Theatre at The Place, where Water Music (2001), a special celebratory piece, was premiered.

Richard Alston Dance Company performed in autumn 2003 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in celebration of 25 years of Dance Umbrella; during the same year Alston received an honorary MA from University College Chichester.

The Company ended their 2004 spring tour with a New York debut in May at the Joyce Theater in New York, celebrating the Company's tenth year. In 2006 the Company completed its first full US tour.

In 2008, to mark his 60th birthday and 40 years of choreography, Richard Alston was commissioned by Dance Umbrella and Sadler's Wells to create a special programme which included the world premier of Blow Over (2008) and the London premier of Shuffle It Right (2008).

In 2009, Richard Alston was awarded the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance at the Critic's Choice National Dance Awards. His appointment as the new Chair of Youth Dance England was also announced.

Following the success of the 2006 USA tour, the Company embarked on two further visits to America during 2009 and 2010 which included a successful week-long run at New York's Joyce Theatre.

In 2011, Alston revisited some of his earliest works to create Early Days to be performed as part of a retrospective during the Dance Umbrella season and later on tour.

Branded the "e.e. cummings of ballet" by The Huffington Post, MILISSA PAYNE BRADLEY is a San Francisco based choreographer, dance educator, and movement artist. Originally from Kingsburg, California, Milissa received her early dance training with the Central California Ballet under the direction of Diane K. Mosier. Milissa has performed with The Oakland Ballet, Dance Through Time, and as a freelance and guest artist. She is a graduate with Honors from Saint Mary's College of California in the Liberal Education for the Arts (LEAP) program and is presently working toward an MFA in Dance: Creative Practice at Saint Mary's College.

For the past ten years, Milissa has been educating and choreographing as an Artist in Residence at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA), under the direction of Elvia Marta and is also part of the teaching staff at the Contra Costa Ballet School.

In 2010, she founded The Milissa Payne Project. In 1997 Milissa was the Friday Night Live Dream Report Scholarship recipient for her choreography and performance. In 2010 her choreography was chosen as audience favorite in Spector Dance's Emerging Choreographer Showcase. In 2011, Milissa's choreography was chosen as a semi-finalist for the Company, C Contemporary Ballet's New Commission Project. In 2012 she was awarded Audience Choice Award for sjDANCEco's 10th Annual choreoProject Awards and was also recognized by Bay Area Dance Watch & SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts as the Bay Area's Best Choreographer (Contemporary Ballet) 2012. The Milissa Payne Project's Revolve, was awarded, Best Whirling Dervish in the Best of San Francisco 2013 by SF Weekly. In 2014 The Milissa Payne Project made their east coast debut for APAP 2014 at the Peridance Capezio Center in New York and at Boston College as part of REVERBdance Echoes Tour.

ZHONG-JING FANG was born in Shanghai, China, and received her early training at the Shanghai Ballet School where she trained for seven years. Before joining ABT's Studio Company in 2002, Fang graduated with a major in ballet from the Performing Arts College of Shanghai Drama University.

In 2000, Fang was the winner of the famed Prix de Lausanne, and winner of the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation Prize at the Ninth International Ballet Competition in Paris. In June 2001, Fang won First Prize in the Junior Division of the Helsinki International Ballet Competition. Most recently, she won first place in the Junior Division of the Shanghai International Ballet Competition.

In April 2003, Fang joined the main Company of the American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice and, in January 2004, became a member of the corps de ballet. Her roles with the Company include Aya in La Bayadère, Twig in Cinderella, Prayer in Coppélia, Zulma in Giselle, the Old Mother in The Green Table, Nanny and the Sugar Plum Fairy in Alexei Ratmansky's The Nutcracker, a Harlot and Rosaline's Friend in Romeo and Juliet, the Fairy Canari qui chante (Canary) in The Sleeping Beauty, the Hungarian Princess and Lead Czardas in Swan Lake, the Prelude in Les Sylphides, Ceres in Sylvia and roles in AfterEffect, Black Tuesday, Continuo, Kaleidoscope, Sinfonietta and Symphonic Variations. She created a leading role in Pretty Good Year.

Ms. Fang's performances with American Ballet Theatre are sponsored by Fred and Irene Shen.

STEVEN MELENDEZ was born in New York City in 1986 and started his ballet training as part of the LIFT Scholarship Program at New York Theatre Ballet's academy, Ballet School New York, at the age of 7. As a teenager he attended summer intensive programs with the San Francisco Ballet Academy, Houston Ballet Academy and Kaatsbaan International School. In 2001 Steven joined New York Theatre Ballet as an apprentice and in 2006 was promoted to Principal. With NYTB, he performed leading roles in choreographies by Fredrick Ashton, George Balanchine, John Butler, Agnes DeMille, Donald Mahler, Antony Tudor and others. In 2004, while dancing with New York Theatre Ballet, he graduated from the American Ballet Theater Studio Company Associate Program.

Steven returned to New York City in March 2010 for New York Theatre Ballet's Signature 10 series as a Principal Guest Artist performing José Limon's Mazurkas and rejoined the company full-time for the following season. In 2011 British choreographer Richard Alston created the new work A Rugged Flourish, featuring Steven. He performed Limon's Moor's Pavane for NYTB's Signatures 12. In 2015 Steven celebrated his 15th season with New York Theatre Ballet performing world premieres in works by Pam Tanowitz and Nicolo Fonte and a U.S. premiere of Richard Alston's Such Longing. He is a frequent guest artist at the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica and Ballet Palm Beach.

Steven is a faculty member of Ballet School New York and also holds an annual summer workshop in Nagoya, Japan.

In 2008 Steven received a Diploma from the 5th Rudolf Nureyev International Ballet Competition in Budapest, Hungary. He also received special recognition from head jurist Maya Plisetskya for his second round performance of Onegin. Afterwards, he was invited to perform in the gala entitled Celebrating the Classical Male Dancer and later represented Estonia at the 13th International Baltic Ballet Festival in Riga, Latvia. In 2009 he performed in the Johvi International Ballet Gala for Agnes Oaks' farewell tour and in 2012 performed at the Jacob's Pillow International Dance Festival Gala The Men Dancers: From the Horse's Mouth. Steven is a Van-Lier Fellowship recipient and was a 2012 Clive Barnes Foundation Award Nominee.

For the 2006 season Steven was invited to Buenos Aires as a Guest Soloist to perform with Ballet Concierto, directed by Inaki Urlezaga. His repertory there included Carmen(Alonso), Don Quixote (Baryshnikov), Symphonic Variations (Ashton) and Borodin(Ariaz). While performing with Ballet Concierto Steven traveled extensively performing in international ballet galas and festivals in Argentina, New Zealand, Thailand, Venezuela, Ecuador, Estonia, Spain and Italy.

In 2007 Steven joined the Vanemuine Theater Ballet Company in Tartu, Estonia, as a Principal dancer. With the Vanemuine Theater he has performed Principal roles in Onegin (Medvedjev), The Nutcracker (Isberg), Giselle (Feco) and Peter Pan (Titova). The leading male role in Par Isberg's Uinuv Kaunitar (Sleeping Beauty) as well as the title role in Ruslan Stepanov's Kevade were both choreographed on him.

JEROME ROBBINS is world renowned for his work as a choreographer of ballets as well as his work as a director and choreographer in theater, movies and television. His Broadway shows include On the Town, Billion Dollar Baby, High Button Shoes, West Side Story, The King and I, Gypsy, Peter Pan, Miss Liberty, Call Me Madam, and Fiddler on the Roof. His last Broadway production in 1989, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, won six Tony Awards including best musical and best director.

Among the more than 60 ballets he created are Fancy Free, Afternoon of a Faun, The Concert, Dances At a Gathering, In the Night, In G Major, Other Dances, Glass Pieces and Ives, Songs, which are in the repertories of New York City Ballet and other major dance companies throughout the world. His last ballets include A Suite of Dances created for Mikhail Baryshnikov (1994), 2 & 3 Part Inventions (1994), West Side Story Suite (1995) and Brandenburg (1996).

In addition to two Academy Awards for the film West Side Story, Mr. Robbins has received four Tony Awards, five Donaldson Awards, two Emmy Awards, the Screen Directors' Guild Award, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Mr. Robbins was a 1981 Kennedy Center Honors Recipient and was awarded the French Chevalier dans l'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur. Mr. Robbins died in 1998.

Virtuoso timpanist JONATHAN HAAS has raised the status of the timpani to that of a solo instrument throughout his unique career that has spanned more than twenty years. From classical concertos to jazz and rock & roll, from symphonic masterpieces to the most experimental compositions of living composers, Haas has championed, commissioned, unearthed and celebrated music for his instrument, becoming, as Ovation magazine hailed him, "The Paganini of the timpani."

His concerts on the world's most prestigious musical stages and his ground-breaking recordings have delighted critics and listeners on both sides of the ocean. The New York Times wrote, "Wherever one finds a percussion instrument waiting to be rubbed, shook, struck or strummed, [Haas] is probably nearby, ready to fulfill his duties with consummate expertise... he is a masterful young percussionist."

Most recently, Haas has garnered widespread praise and attention for his performances of Philip Glass' Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, a piece conceived by Haas and completed because of his quest to spotlight the timpani. The Concerto Fantasy features not only two timpanists, but also 14 timpani, all placed downstage in front of the orchestra. In 2000, Haas performed the world premiere of the piece with the American Symphony, and he has subsequently performed it at Carnegie Hall and in Phoenix, New Jersey, Baltimore, Pasadena, Long Beach (California), St. Louis and Mexico City. Haas also performed the European premiere with the BBC Symphony in London, the world premiere of a chamber orchestra version with the Iris Chamber Orchestra in Memphis, the Czechoslovakian premiere with the Prague Symphony Orchestra at the International Music Prague Spring Festival, the Norwegian premiere with the Bergen Philharmonic, and he will perform the Australian premiere with the Sydney Symphony and the Turkish premiere with the Istanbul Philharmonic.

Haas' successful efforts to expand the timpani repertoire have led him to commission and premiere more than 25 works by composers in addition to Philip Glass such as Stephen Albert, Marius Constant, Irwin Bazelon, Eric Ewazen, Thomas Hamilton, Robert Hall Lewis, Jean Piche, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Andrew Thomas, and many others.

NYU STEEL is a significant performance ensemble within the NYU Steinhardt Percussion Program, where Professor Jonathan Haas serves as Director. Under the direction of Joshua Quillen, NYU Steel is dedicated to exploring the art of steel pans to the fullest, performing rare compositions and arrangements ranging in scope from Philip Glass and Jason Trueting, to David Rudder and Lord Kitchener from Trinidad and Tobago, where the art form was invented. The ensemble presents several unique performances each year, collaborating with composers globally, while enriching the steel drum repertoire. Recent noteworthy accomplishments include the exclusive recording of Philip Glass' Piano Etudes, arranged by Joshua Quillen, which was released by Orange Mountain Music in May 2011, as well as promotional and tribute performances for Glass' 75th birthday.

NYU Steel emphasizes an artistically and culturally diverse array of performance styles that break with traditional boundaries surrounding the esoteric genre of steel pan music. NYU Steel seeks to create a bond between artist and audience that warrants an environment of creativity and community. With a hunger for innovation and desire to explore all the possibilities of steel pan music, NYU Steel has created the most unique ensemble of its kind, drawing from the rich cultural sounds of the Caribbean while incorporating the works of prominent composers such as Philip Glass in order to gain the instrument prominence on the world stage. As part of a global initiative instituted in collaboration with New York University, NYU Steel is constantly pursuing ways to reach audiences in an international scope, driving to cultivate a niche in the world stage. At the same time, NYU Steel continues to nurture relationships with the local community, intent on becoming leaders in education, performance, and creativity.

Whether engaging audiences with upbeat island tunes or dazzling them with the mellifluous sounds of Philip Glass, NYU Steel is becoming one of the premier university steel pan ensembles on the East coast. Enriching both the community and the city, NYU Steel is discovering all the possibilities when you combine glass and steel.

New York Theatre Ballet (NYTB), founded in 1978 by artistic director Diana Byer, has been hailed by The New York Times as "an invaluable company." NYTB is dedicated to inspiring a love of dance in diverse audiences through performances of chamber ballet masterpieces and bold new works, as well as innovative one-hour ballets for children, all at affordable prices.

By pairing the ballets of legendary creators with those of contemporary visionaries, NYTB brings a new understanding and appreciation of dance. The approach to live performance for children is groundbreaking and unique. New York Theatre Ballet offers an annual series of hour-long ballets tailored to the attention span of young audience members, while offering high production values and clever choreography sophisticated enough for discerning parents.

NYTB is committed to reaching underserved audiences by performing in small cities throughout the U.S. Its professional school provides ballet training based on the Cecchetti syllabus. Classes are offered at affordable prices. Scholarships are awarded to talented homeless and underserved children along with support for well-rounded learning.

New York Theatre Ballet's performances are part of New York Live Arts' Community Rental program, which is designed for dance and theater companies, as well as producing and non-profit organizations. For more information, visit

Photo Credit: Yi Chun-Wu

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