Monmouth County's First Professional Ballet Company Premieres With A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
The Axelrod Performing Arts Center [APAC] announces the launch of Monmouth County's first professional ballet company, the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater [AXCBT], under the leadership of Artistic Director and Choreographer Gabriel Chajnik.
A Juilliard alum and new resident of Ocean Grove, Chajnik was introduced to APAC after meeting with a group of passionate advocates for the arts here in Monmouth County. He soon met with local schools and dance programs to see what was needed and desired in the area. This inspired a series of targeted workshops hosted directly onstage with live musicians and high-caliber professional dancers.
"We have already hosted over 150 dance students through our masterclass series, our winter and partnering intensives, and a Paul Taylor master class," says Chajnik. "The Axelrod Contemporary Ballet's educational program will be a hub for dancers in the area to expand, refine, and add new elements to their training. Our intention is to build the reputation of the Jersey Shore as a preeminent place for dance."
To launch the company, instead of going with a traditional ballet such as "Swan Lake" or an edgy, wild new production, Chajnik chose Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," because, he says, "The production is very whimsical and has space for young, energetic dancers to be showcased in the play's many fun characters."
The performance will feature professional dancers from AXCBT, as well as young trainees, and also a live 20-piece orchestra playing the music of Felix Mendelssohn, conducted by the talented Ocean Grove resident Jason Tramm.
While it would have been easier to launch a company with an all-professional cast, Chajnik wanted to take a risk that would benefit the local dance community.
"We want the students to have a chance to dance with professionals from New York and New Jersey," he says, "so they can not only look up to them but also be mentored and dance alongside them."
In preparation of the performances on August 29th and 30th, there will be a multi-week summer dance intensive featuring local dancers from studios throughout Monmouth, Ocean and even Bergen Counties.
To help inspire the dancers' growth, there will be an invite-only trainee program for talented young local students to join in on various performances that are part of APAC's and AXCBT's upcoming seasons.
Live auditions for the casting of the summer program and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" are completed, but students may still submit a solo video audition if they wish to be involved in this ground-breaking production.
About the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater
The AXCBT was established in the fall of 2017 under the leadership of Board President Elise Feldman and Artistic Director and Choreographer Gabriel Chajnik. The mission of the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater is to inspire an appreciation for dance-in both dancers and dance enthusiasts-through artistic excellence, innovative choreography, and exhilarating performances.
Through contemporary ballet, Gabriel Chajnik and his team of master instructors will be able to inspire and teach young dancers to learn to express their talent, explore their creative spirits, and expand their artistic horizons. This training program is designed to underscore the joy of dance and prepare young dancers for the challenges of a career in dancing or a life of loving dance.
About the Axelrod Performing Arts Center
The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is New Jersey's newest professional theater, offering main-stage musicals, ballets, original concerts, films and special events throughout the year. APAC fosters artistic excellence by showcasing varied and distinct cultural programs that enrich the imaginative, intellectual, and creative soul, while cultivating an appreciation of diverse communities through the pursuit of the arts. For more information, please visit www.axelrodartscenter.com.
Photo Caption: Dancers Garrett McCann (right) and Anne Sandefur will perform in the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet's production of a Midsummer Night's Dream August 29 & 30th.
Photo credit: Ernesto Mancebo