New Orleans Ballet Association to Present The 50th ANNIVERSARY EVENING OF STARS

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New Orleans Ballet Association to Present The 50th ANNIVERSARY EVENING OF STARS

Celebrating 50 years of "Bringing Dance to Life" in New Orleans, the New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) continues its golden anniversary year with a glittering, star-studded 50th Anniversary Evening of Stars on Jan. 25 at 6 p.m., at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. This elegant evening dazzles with a stunning program of classical masterpieces from Le Corsaire, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Raymonda and Flower Festival of Genzano to sleek contemporary works performed by an all-star cast of preeminent artists, including international ballet superstars stars Maria Kochetkova and Vitor Luiz; and world-renowned principal dancers Heather Ogden and Guillaume Côté of National Ballet of Canada; Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili of The Joffrey Ballet; Ji-Young Chae and Derek Dunn of Boston Ballet; Nayara Lopes and Sterling Baca of Pennsylvania Ballet; Glen Allen Sims of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; and more! The 50th Anniversary Evening of Stars is an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime event. After the Evening of Stars performance, BRAVO (Ballet Resource and Volunteer Organization) hosts its largest fundraiser of the year on the stage of the Mahalia Jackson Theater. With honorary chairs Gov. John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Hutto Edwards, 300 guests will move from audience to stage and be joined by the artists for a spectacular, grand-seated dinner by Hyatt Regency New Orleans' 1718 Events.

"We are honored to celebrate 50 years of bringing dance to life with an extraordinary evening of exquisite artists followed by a unique opportunity to join them on the stage for dinner, chaired by Gov. John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Hutto Edwards. In honor of Pamela and Warner Williams for their extraordinary leadership and contributions to NOBA, the evening will begin with special performances by NOBA Center for Dance alumni and students including a heartwarming tribute to New Orleans icon Allen Toussaint of the NOBA-commissioned work by David Parsons, Lagniappe, which was first performed with Toussaint at the Mahalia Jackson Theater on May 10, 2014. Plus, we will welcome home NOBA alumnus, Alex Danna and fellow Texas Ballet Theater artist and New Orleans native Adeline Melcher performing an exquisite work by choreographer Ben Stevenson," comments NOBA Executive Director Jenny Hamilton.

The 50th Anniversary Evening of Stars performance tickets start at $20 and are available online at; by calling (504) 522-0996; in-person at NOBA's Box Office, 935 Gravier Street, Suite 800; or through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more, students and seniors are also available. Gala Packages including the dinner on the stage are available by contacting Francesca Martin at or by calling NOBA at (504) 522-0996 ext. 208.


After the Evening of Stars performance, BRAVO | Ballet Resource and Volunteer Organization hosts its largest fundraiser of the year on the stage of the Mahalia Jackson Theater. With honorary chairs Gov. John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Hutto Edwards, 300 guests will move from audience to stage and be joined by the Evening of Stars artists for a spectacular, grand-seated gourmet dinner by 1718 Catering by the Hyatt Regency New Orleans with décor by Dunn & Sonnier Antiques and Flowers.

The evening will feature music and dancing to Julio & César, a silent auction, Lee Michaels shopping spree raffle and more. All Gala package buyers receive premium seating to the performance, admittance to the Gala seated dinner on stage with the artists, VIP parking, and post-performance reception admittance. Benefactor-level tickets also include admittance to the champagne intermission reception with white-gloved service, an invitation to the exclusive Benefactor Dinner hosted by the Windsor Court Hotel on Feb. 11 and a treasured gift provided by Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry.

For Gala package information and tickets, call NOBA at (504) 522-0996 ext. 208 or visit

The Evening of Stars performance is sponsored by Hyatt Regency New Orleans. The BRAVO Gala dinner is sponsored by 1718 Catering by Hyatt Regency New Orleans, Pan American Life Insurance Group, Pamela and Warner Williams, Windsor Court Hotel, Dunn and Sonnier Antiques and Florals, NOCCI and Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry.


Maria Kochetkova: Born in Moscow, Russia, Maria Kochetkova trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School for eight years before dancing with The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet in London. She joined the San Francisco Ballet as a principal dancer in 2007 and has performed asa??a guest artist with the Bolshoi and Stanislavsky Theaters in Moscow, the Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky Theaters in St. Petersburg, American Ballet Theatre in New York, Rome Opera and the Tokyo Ballet. She performed the Grand Pas de Deux in San Francisco Ballet'sa??Nutcracker,a??which was broadcast by PBS in 2008 and won the solo gold medal in the NBC seriesa??Superstars of Dancea??watched by over 10 million viewers. Kochetkova's prizes and awards include the Isadora Duncan Award for the role ofa??Gisellea??anda??medals at the International Ballet Competitions in Seoul, Rome, Riety, Luxembourg, Varna and Moscow. She is also a winner of the Prix de Lausanne and was nominated for the best dancer award in the Benois de la Dance (2013) and National Dance Awards (2014).

Vitor Luiz: Born in Juiz de Fora, Brazil, Vitor Luiz studied classical ballet by Brazilian distinguished ballet masters such as Pedro Kraszczuk, Dalal Achcar, Stella de Mello and Victor Navarro. At the age of 16, he was granted a full scholarship at the Royal Ballet School in London. His professional career began in England before he was 18 years old with the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Luiz has performed as a principal dancer and international guest artist with Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco Ballet. He won the "Isadora Duncan Dance Award" for Best Ensemble Performance in choreographer Yuri Possokhov's Classical Symphony and was nominated as a member of The International Dance Council CID, Paris, official partner of UNESCO, for his contributions to the arts. Luiza??reached international recognition as a principal dancer due to his versatile style, work ethic, dancing and partnering skills. Luiz is also an assistant professor in the Claire Trevor School of The Arts with a committed enthusiasm to share his knowledge to a new generation of dancers at University of California-Irvine.

Heather Ogden was born in Toronto and trained at the Richmond Academy of Dance in British Columbia before joining The National Ballet of Canada in 1998. She was promoted to principal dancer in 2005. In 2011, Ogden was chosen by Evelyn Hart for the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Mentorship program. In 2014, she became an ambassador for Rolex Canada along with principal dancer Guillaume Côté. Ogden starred in the short film Lost In Motion II, choreographed by Côté, which debuted at the Dance on Camera Festival in New York City in 2014.

Guillaume Côté was born in Lac-Saint-Jean, Québec, and trained at Canada's National Ballet School. He joined National Ballet of Canada in 1998, became a principal dancer in 2004, and was also appointed choreographic associate in 2013. Côté is an accomplished choreographer, musician and composer. His choreographic works for National Ballet of Canada include Venom, Enkeli, Dance Me To The End of Love, Body of Work and Being and Nothingness. Awards for his choreography include the Audience Choice Award for Best Choreography at The International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize for Enkeli and third prize at Ballet Society Hanover's 25th International Competition for #24. Côté debuted his first full-length ballet, Le Petit Prince, during the National Ballet's 2015/16 season and created Dark Angels in 2017 for the National Arts Centre. Most recently in 2018, he created Frame by Frame, in collaboration with Robert Lepage. In 2012, he choreographed and starred in the short film Lost in Motion, which was presented at Toronto's International Film Festival. The sequel, Lost in Motion II, was released in 2013 and was featured at the Dance on Camera Festival in New York City in 2014. He won a Gemini Award in 2007 and the Galileo 2000 A Life for Music Prize in 2008 for Moving to His Music: The Two Muses of Guillaume Côté. In 2012, he was awarded La médaille de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec, a prestigious award from the province of Québec for his work in the arts. Côté is also the artistic director of the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur, one of the largest summer dance festivals in the country.

Victoria Jaiani was born and raised in Tbilisi, Georgia. She began her training at the age of ten at V. Chabukiani Academy and continued her studies in New York before receiving a Bronze Medal at the New York International Ballet Competition in 2003. As one of The Joffrey Ballet's principal artists, Jaiani was featured on the cover of Dance Magazine and was named "Chicagoan of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune Arts Critic. In 2012, Today's Chicago Woman named her one of Chicago's top women in the arts. In 2013, Chicago Magazine named her "best dancer." Jaiani originated the lead pas de deux in Edwaard Liang's Age of Innocence and Woven Dreams; Possokhov's Bells and The Miraculous Mandarin, Welch's Son of Chamber Symphony; and James Kudelka's Pretty BALLET.

Temur Suluashvili was born in Russia and raised in the Republic of Georgia. At age 15, he began his ballet training at the V. Chabukiani Academy, where he was a finalist in the Republic's first dance competition and received a Certificate of Achievement. He joined The Joffrey Ballet in 2003 after studying on a full scholarship with The Joffrey Ballet School in New York. He originated the leading pas de deux in Possokhov's Bells and Adagio, as well as the 3rd movement in Stanton Welch's Son of Chamber Symphony.

Ji-Young Chae: Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Ji-Young Chae trained at Seoul Arts High School and Korea National University of Arts. In 2011, she danced with Washington Ballet before joining Boston Ballet in 2013, where she was promoted to soloist in 2015 and to principal dancer in 2018. Chae was awarded the gold medal at the 2010 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Miss., and first prize at the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. In 2011, she received the gold medal at the Boston International Ballet Competition.

Derek Dunn was born in Glen Burnie, Maryland, and began dancing at the Edna Lee Dance Studio. He continued his training at The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia before joining the Houston Ballet in 2012 and then Boston Ballet as a soloist in 2017. He was promoted to principal dancer in 2018. Dunn earned the Youth America Grand Prix Award in 2008, the Junior Gold Medal in 2010 and the Senior Gold Meal in 2012 at Youth America Grand Prix. He was also awarded the Junior Bronze Medal at the USA International Ballet Competition in 2010. Dunn was featured on the October/November 2016 cover of Pointe magazine and in Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" in 2014.

Nayara Lopes was born in Curitiba, Brazil, and began her training at the Escola de Dança Teatro Guaira. In 2008, she studied at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre in New York under full scholarship. Lopes has competed in multiple international competitions, including the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP), winning the Silver Medal in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 2011, she wona??the Mary Day Special Award that was granted by American Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin Mckenzie in the New York City YAGP finals after winning the 'Grand Prix Prize' in Regionals in Columbia, S.C.a??She has danced professionally with Orlando Ballet II, National Ballet of Canada and Dance Theatre of Harlem. a??She joineda??Pennsylvania Balleta??in 2016 and was promoted to first soloist in 2019.a??

Sterling Baca grew up in Larkspur, Colo. He began his training at the Academy of Colorado Ballet at the age of 11 and then studied with German Zamuel. He moved to New York at the age of 15 to attend the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre on full scholarship in January 2009.a?? Baca danced with American Ballet Theatre prior to joining Pennsylvania Balleta??as a principal dancer in 2016.

Glenn Allen Sims, originally from Long Branch, New Jersey, began classical dance training at the Academy of Dance Arts in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, and was a scholarship student to The Ailey School's Summer Intensive. He attended The Juilliard School under Benjamin Harkarvy and, in 2004, was the youngest person to be inducted into the Long Branch High School's Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame. He joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Company in 1997. He has been featured on several network television programs, including BET Honors, Dancing with the Stars, The Ellen Degeneres Show and So You Think You Can Dance, and was featured on the cover of Dance Magazine.

Adeline Melcher, originally from New Orleans, trained with Myra Mier, before attending several ballet summer intensive programs, including Kirov Academy of Ballet, American Ballet Theater NYC, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, School of American Ballet, Houston Ballet and Texas Ballet Theater. At 16 years old, she became a student of Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy. She has been with Texas Ballet Theater for the past four seasons. a??

Alex Danna was born in New Orleans and began training at the age of 16 with New Orleans Ballet Association. After one year of training, he was accepted to the Houston Ballet Academy for two years on scholarship and is now a member of the Texas Ballet Theater.

About the New Orleans Ballet Association: NOBA celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2019-20 as the Central Gulf region's premier presenting and service organization dedicated solely to the art of dance. NOBA's dynamic Main Stage season annually features a diverse array of world-class companies and artists. Each year NOBA provides concerts, classes, workshops and lectures to more than 30,000 area dance enthusiasts of all ages. In addition, NOBA's nationally recognized, award-winning education programs provide participants ages 3 -80+ of our community access to quality arts, health and wellness programs with over 5,500 tuition-free dance classes and workshops annually at 20 sites throughout the Greater New Orleans area.

NOBA is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA); a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and the NEA, a Federal agency; a Community Arts Grant made possible by the City of New Orleans; and a grant from South Arts in partnership with the NEA and the Louisiana Division of the Arts.

Photo Credit: Karolina Kuras

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