BWW Review: Manhattan Youth Ballet

BWW Review: Manhattan Youth Ballet

Manhattan Youth Ballet and Manhattan Movement & Arts Center presented their Annual Spring Workshop Performances March 7- 9 at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, 248 West 60th Street. The Annual Spring Workshop Performances are the culmination of a rehearsal process that begins with a Winter Workshop Intensive each year.

Manhattan Youth Ballet models its training program with an emphasis on European

Manhattan Youth Ballet and Manhattan Movement & Arts Center presented their Annual Spring Workshop Performances March 7- 9 at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, 248 West 60th Street. The Annual Spring Workshop Performances are the culmination of a rehearsal process that begins with a Winter Workshop Intensive each year.

classical ballet and is a result of Rosa Caiola's seventeen-year effort to create a viable, curriculum-based ballet academy in Manhattan that serves the needs of a diverse community. MYB also conducts numerous community outreach programs that promote dance education, serving over 2,500 New York City school children.

The performance on March 9 began with excerpts from George Balanchine's Children's Ballabile from his full-length Harlequinade, expertly staged Deborah Wingert, the head of the faculty and a Balanchine répétiteur. With its delightful set of Polichinelles, Harlequins, Pierrots and Pierrettes, and Scaramouches, this Ballabile offers entertaining and wonderful dances for different levels and ages of ballet students. All students admirably cavorted with aplomb throughout this joyful presentation.

Excerpts from the ballet classic Raymonda followed for the advanced students. Staged with authority by Marina Stavitskaya, the variations are a cornucopia of female classical ballet technique. These showpiece gems can prove treacherous for inexperienced dancers, even if accomplished technicians. However, all of the variations were capably executed by the Manhattan Youth Ballet's dancers. Standouts included Variation III by Kira Anderson, Variation IV by Erin Chong, Variation V by Brittany Cioce, and Variation VI by Mary Attaway. Hopefully, with more performances and under the expert coaching of Ms. Stavitskaya, these young dancers can add the ease and style of the arms of dancers trained in the Vaganova system, as exemplified so beautifully in the Russian Mariinsky's female dancers, and so necessary for classical works like Raymonda.

These advanced students were more relaxed in the premiere of Attila Joey Csiki's fascinating and innovative contemporary ballet, Fragments: A Work in Progress. If indeed a "work in progress," one hopes there will be more clever pieces by Csiki like Fragments added to MYB's repertory.

Faculty member Karen Lacy's entertaining abbreviated version of Camille Saint-Saën's Carnival of the Animals was a delight from start to finish. Ms. Lacy's choreography was age appropriate for all of the varying levels of dance ability and ages on stage. The young dancers, consisting of Lions, Fish, and Birds seemed to be having as much fun onstage as the audience watching.

The premiere of Brian Reeder's The Light is Calling was the highlight of the performance. The company's advanced dancers rose to the challenge of the complicated rhythms and intricate timing of Michael Gordon and Jake Runestad's fascinating score. The ballet offered a sublime spirituality along with superb choreographic invention. Kira Anderson was the breathtakingly beautiful female lead in this gorgeous ballet that will hopefully see many more performances.


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Holly Kerr Holly Kerr is a University of North Carolina School of the Arts ballet graduate and holds a M.A. and B.A. in Dance Education from SUNY Empire State College. After a professional dance and theatrical career performing in the USA and internationally, she was a Teaching Artist and Teacher Trainer for the New York City Ballet Education Department for 11 years. Miss Kerr conducted master classes and choreography workshops based on the New York City Ballet repertory for NYC high school dance students at Lincoln Center and in over 20 performing arts magnet high schools and public and private high school dance programs. As Instructor Trainer for the New York City Ballet Workout, she trained national and international dance teachers in ballet and fitness pedagogy. Miss Kerr was a Teaching Artist for the American Ballet Theatre Education Department and Choreographer for the Make a Ballet high school ballet program. She serves on the Faculties of Broadway Dance Center and Boys and Girls Harbor Conservatory and is Ballet Teaching Artist for New York City Center. She teaches master classes at national and international dance centers and dance conventions, and has lectured on ballet at Lincoln Center and the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs.