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ABT II Presents a World Premiere at John Jay College

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1915 Kutztown Road
Reading, PA 19604
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American Ballet Theatre
(ABT II Website)
Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director

John Jay College
Gerald W. Lynch Theater
(John Jay College Theater Website)

Wes Chapman, Artistic Director
Rachel A. Garcia, ABT II Company Manager
Brian Sciarra, Production Manager

Company Teachers: Franco De Vita, Raymond Lukens,
Lupe Serrano, Nancy Raffa, Clinton Luckett

Kaia Annika, Brittany De Grofft, April Giangeruso,
Ty Gurfein, Jaime Hickey, Meaghan Hinkis,
Courtney Lavine, Sae Eun Park, Colby Parsons,
Calvin Royal III, Irlan Silva, Mara Thompson,
Brian Waldrep, Alberto Velazquez

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 3, 2009

(See More ABT Reviews, Interviews, and Candids)

ABT II is composed of 14 young (16-20 yrs.), talented dancers under the leadership of Wes Chapman, after successfully auditioning for the Company. ABT II performs in NYC schools, as well as schools around the country, and it participates in outreach in colleges and universities. These dancers are preparing to join ABT main company or another major ballet company after training in this program. Composers and choreographers develop skills in this program as well. (Program Notes).

Swan Lake, Act II Pas de Deux: Choreography after Lev Ivanov, Staged by Wes Chapman, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Costumes Courtesy of ABT, Performed by April Giangeruso and Brian Waldrep.

Interplay: Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Staged by Jean-Pierre Frohlich, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Music by Morton Gould (American Concertette), Costumes by Harriet & Elizabeth Aymong, Performed by Ty Gurfein, Irlan Silva, Sae Eun Park, Calvin Royal III, and the Company.

Barbara: Choreography by Aszure Barton in collaboration with ABT II Dancers, Ass. By Ian Robinson, Music by Barbara, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Sound Editing by Chris Downes and Ian Robinson, Performed by the Company.

Don Quixote, Act III Pas de Deux: Staged by Wes Chapman after Marius Petipa, Music by Ludwig Minkus, Costumes by Betty Smith, Performed by Meaghan Hinkis and Alberto Velazquez.

A Taste of Sweet Velvet (World Premiere): Choreography by Jodie Gates, Music by Ludwig Van Beethoven (Symphony No. 9 in D minor, molto vivace), Musical Landscape by Jack Eddy, Costume Design by Melanie Watnick, Lighting Design by Brian Sciarra, Performed by the Company.

It had been ten months since my last Swan Lake balletomane fix, and I was thrilled to see ABT II perform this (Odette/White Swan) Pas de Deux tonight at John Jay. I remembered April Giangeruso from last summer’s ABT Summer Intensive, noting then that she was a young artist to watch. Tonight, she danced beyond her years, fluid and flexible, eloquent and balanced, and her onstage communication with her partner, Brian Waldrep, who danced in last year’s JKO School Spring Performance, was convincing. They had “real partner” attitude.

Interplay, a lively, aerobic Jerome Robbins work, had the male dancers sliding the females through their legs, leaping, spinning, falling, and more. Eight dancers in colorful tights, buoyant and strong, catapult about the stage with glee. In works like this, it’s often preferable to see a youthful, fresh cast, that adds personal nuance that’s been practiced little. The opportunity for “unseasoned” interpretation is boundless. Of particular note, Alberto Velazquez danced with sensational fervor.

Barbara, choreographed by Aszure Barton to chansons de France, was replete with gesture (head-hand) and quick turns. It was lyrical and filled with youthful exhilaration. Again, April Giangeruso and Brian Waldrep, as well as Calvin Royal III, caught my eye. This is a piece I’d like to see interpreted by the main Company one October season. The Don Quixote Act III Pas de Deux featured Meaghan Hinkis and Alberto Velazquez, and the performance was impressive. Both dancers kept the momentum going, including the fouettés, and I’m already anticipating seeing them on bigger stages in the future. A Taste of Velvet, set to Beethoven’s Ninth, was premiered tonight, and Jodie Gates has created a foggy, frenzied, fusion of contemporary-classical ballet that has ten dancers whirling about as an explosive, energized ensemble. Kudos to ABT II for this powerful performance.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at