Gelsey Kirkland Ballet to Perform at Symphony Space, 3/7-8
Following their critically acclaimed world premiere in December the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet returns with an evening of dance at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway on the southwest corner of 95th Street and Broadway) Friday, March 7 at 7:30PM and Saturday, March 8 at 7:30PM. This 20-member company, under the artistic direction of Gelsey Kirkland and Michael Chernov present their first mixed program including "Raymonda Suite," "Leaves are Fading" Pas de Deux, "Ballebille" from Napoli, "Flames of Paris" Pas de Deux, "Pas De Quatre" and "Cavalry Halt." As part of the shared vision that Ms. Kirkland and Mr. Chernov are attempting to fulfill with the creation of Gelsey Kirkland Ballet, Ms. Kirkland has provided her own personal touch to master works such as The Leaves are Fading, which was created on her at ABT by the renowned British choreographer Antony Tudor. The program also includes the New York premiere of Petipa's Cavalry Halt, a piece rarely viewed by US audiences.
The evening's program features a wide variety of ballet styles designed to show off the versatility and range of Gelsey Kirkland Ballet and also pays homage to Ms. Kirkland's history as a performer.
"Raymonda Suite" (Choreography by Marius Petipa, Music by Alexander Glazunov): This opening piece is an excerpt from the third act of the full-length ballet, Raymonda, which is a 19th century story ballet set in medieval Hungary. Gelsey Kirkland performed the title role with the legendary Rudolf Nureyev as her partner in 1976 for American Ballet Theater.
The Leaves are Fading Pas de Deux (Choreography by Antony Tudor, Music by Antonin Dvorak): At American Ballet Theater in 1975, British choreographer Antony Tudor set this masterpiece on the young Gelsey Kirkland. The ballet is a dramatic and poignant meditation on the maturation of love.
For the first time, Ms. Kirkland will be passing this piece on to a new generation of ballet dancers, set by Amanda McKerrow and John Gardener from the Tudor Trust. Dawn Gierling and Christian Laverde will dance the leads. For her performance in the company's Nutcracker last year, the New York Times noted that Ms. Gierling bears a resemblance to Ms. Kirkland in her prime.
"Ballebille" from Napoli (Choreography by August Bournonville, Music by Edvard Helsted, Holger Simon Paulli): This piece is an excerpt from the third act of Napoli (subtitled The Fisherman and his Bride), which was created in 1842 by the Danish choreographer August Bournoville after he visited the city of Naples.
Flames of Paris Pas de Deux (Choreographed by Vasily Vainonen, Music by Boris Asafyev based on songs of the French Revolution): This pas de deux is an audience favorite excerpted from the famous four-act ballet that premiered at the Kirov Theatre in 1932. The subject of the ballet is the French Revolution and the style is heroic, to some extent reflecting the classical idiom that was the signature of the Kirov during the 1920s and 30s. While Flames of Paris incorporates character dancing and both court and folk music on a grand scale, the dramatic pas de deux reflects the Russian classical tradition epitomized by Marius Petipa.
"Pas De Quatre" (Choreography by Anton Dolin (after Jules Perrot, Music by Cesare Pugni): This ballet was originally performed in 1845 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London by four of the most famous European ballerinas of the time: Carlotta Grisi, Lucile Grahn, Marie Taglioni, and Fanny Cerrito - who caused a sensation on opening night because of their celebrity. The British Choreographer Anton Dolin reconstructed the ballet for American Ballet Theater in 1941. Our dancers pay tribute to that reconstruction, the four original ballerinas and the Romantic era. The demure lightness and delicacy of the style is accomplished only by the commitment to exploration and sustained virtuosity of our young ballerinas.
Cavalry Halt (Choreography by Marius Petipa, Music by Johann Armsheimer and Johann Strauss): This ballet is a charming romantic comedy created by Maria Petipa for the Marinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1896, one of the choreographer's works that has rarely if ever been performed in the U.S. This performance will be the New York premiere of Cavalry Halt.
Gelsey Kirkland Ballet is a classical company with twenty dancers whose mission is to perform story ballets and classic dramatic works with staging and coaching by masters in technique, style and period.
The company's dancers are beautifully trained professionals from the U.S., Russia, Brazil, Israel, and Venezuela. Many are recent graduates of the academy, fresh talents who bring their unique virtuosity to the stage for the first time. They have been trained in the demanding traditional style while also having the flexibility to perform today's eclectic ballet repertoire.
The company has 15,000 sq. ft. of spectacular studio space in Tribeca as well as a 22,000 sq. ft. warehouse in New Jersey, which houses a scenic shop and storage for an extensive collection of sets, props and costumes, many of which were acquired from the NewYork City Opera.
Gelsey Kirkland received her early training at the School of American Ballet, gaining early stage experience dancing children's roles in Balanchine's The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Harlequinade. She graduated to the New York City Ballet in 1968, was promoted to soloist in 1970 and principal dancer in 1972. While in the New York City Ballet she performed a variety of leading roles in their repertory, including "Concerto Barocco," "The Cage," "Irish Fantasy", "Symphony in C," "La Source," "Theme and Variations," "Tarantella, Harlequinade," The Nutcracker and "Dances at a Gathering".
Her desire to master roles in full-length works coincided with Baryshnikov's defection and invitation to dance with him at American Ballet Theatre, which she joined in 1974 as principal dancer. Teachers most influential in her development as a classical artist include Stanley Williams, Maggie Black, David Howard, actress and mime Pilar Garcia and dramaturge Greg Lawrence.
Ms. Kirkland received worldwide acclaim for her performances in the classical repertory: the title role in Giselle, Kitri in Don Quixote, Clara in The Nutcracker, Swanhilda in Coppélia, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the sylph in La Sylphide, Lise in La Fille Mal Gardée, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Nikiya in The Kingdom of the Shades, the Mazurka and pas de deux in Les Sylphides, and the sleepwalker in La Sonnambula.
Major choreographers have been inspired to create new works for her; namely, a production of "Firebird" by George Balanchine when she was seventeen, several ballets by Jerome Robbins, and Antony Tudor's The Leaves are Fading and The Tiller in the Fields. Ms. Kirkland's guest appearances with leading companies are notably the critically acclaimed performances of The Sleeping Beauty and MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet with The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, and in Cranko's Romeo and Juliet with The Stuttgart Ballet. On the occasion of Queen Elizabeth's 60th Birthday Gala at Covent Garden she performed the balcony pas de deux with Anthony Dowell. Her appearances on American and British television include Live from Lincoln Center and the film version of The Nutcracker with Baryshnikov. Retirement from the stage in 1986 marked Ms. Kirkland's transition into teaching and coaching in institutions such as American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet School, English National Ballet, and The Australian Ballet. In the 1990's she was Professor of Dance at Adelphi University in New York. In 2002-2005 she taught at the Victorian College of the Arts and was director of the ballet program at Danceworld 301. Ms. Kirkland studied the Vaganova Method under Robert Ray at the Victorian College of the Arts. She continued intensive teacher training under Nina Osipyan. In 2006 -2008 she collaborated with Kevin McKenzie and Michael Chernov in the staging and additional choreography for The Sleeping Beauty for American Ballet Theatre, as well as appearing as the Fairy Carabosse in that production.
Gelsey Kirkland and Greg Lawrence are the authors of her first autobiography Dancing On My Grave published in 1986, her second autobiography titled The Shape Of Love published in 1990, and a children's book called The Little Ballerina and Her Dancing Horse published in 1993.
Michael Chernov received his early ballet and theatre training at the National Ballet and Theatre School in Melbourne, Australia. He has worked with classical ballet companies nationally and internationally. From 1987 to 1994 Mr. Chernov worked as an actor performing Off-Broadway and in regional theatre with the Hartford Stage Company and the Alonso Theatre Company in plays by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Shaw and Coward, working under the direction of Tony Award winning directors Vivian Matalon and Brian Murray. In 1992 he studied theatre directing at T. Schreiber Studios in New York and has directed plays by Anton Chekov and Horton Foote, including directing the actor Leonid Satinovsky from Russia's prestigious Moscow Arts Theatre in Chekov's The Bear. In 2003 Mr. Chernov received his Graduate Ballet Teacher's Diploma (Vaganova Method) at the Victorian College of the Arts, and in 2006 completed a Master of Arts Administration at the University RMIT, Melbourne Australia. He taught classical ballet at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2004 and 2005, and at Danceworld in Melbourne, Australia where he was co-director of the ballet program with his wife Gelsey Kirkland. He has taught at Steps on Broadway, Peridance Studios and Ballet Hispanico in New York and in summer programs throughout the U.S. From 2006-7 Mr. Chernov worked in collaboration with Gelsey Kirkland and Kevin McKenzie on the staging and choreography for The Sleeping Beauty at American Ballet Theatre.
Performances are Friday, March 7 at 7:30PM and Saturday, March 8 at 7:30PM at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway on the southwest corner of 95th Street and Broadway)