New York has a number of great ballet schools and it’s always exciting to attend their performances, wondering which dancers will make it to the ballet major leagues. One such school is Ballet Academy East (BAE) founded by Julia Dubno in 1979. Prominent BAE alumni include New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Chase Finlay and Soloist Erica Periera, and ABT Corps members Puanani Brown and Hannah Marshall, along with dancers in major companies worldwide. The Pre-Professional Division faculty, led by Artistic Director and former NYCB dancer Darla Hoover, includes former and current dancers Charles Askegard, Maxim Beloserkovsky, Gonzalo Garcia, Wendy Whelan, and Cheryl Yeager.
BAE had its Winter Performance last Thursday through Saturday at New York Live Arts Theater with original works. I posted photos on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com. While most ballet school performances stick to standard classics, BAE presented four new works created for the school, by William Whitener, BAE student Chloe Harper, and two by BAE faculty member Jenna Lavin. As in their Winter Performance last year, the dancers demonstrated a high level of advanced technique Thursday with expressive dancing, dramatic nuanced touches, and nicely synchronized corps work.
The four works featured much corps dancing, with solos interspersed throughout. Whitener’s work, Sketchbook, consists of eight independent segments allowing for plenty of group dances and solos. The women demonstrated nice musicality and form, flowing to the Prokofiev and Shostakovich piano scores. The work has a sense of playful informality for the men, with a few cartwheels thrown in. The piece also let the guys let loose with well executed men’s steps such as double tours, pirouettes in second position, and double saute de basques.
Tallison Costa, a David Howard Foundation Scholar, stood out in three of the works, with nice extension, high leaps, and great control. His solo in Lavin’s Holberg Suite was of high quality, with great technique. Tallison has a high energy, go for broke style that is exciting.
Jenna Lavin, a former Miami City Ballet Soloist teaching and choreographing works at BAE since 2003, premiered her work Holberg Suite that included some of the younger BAE students. The younger students are well-trained, sometimes showing more stage presence and beaming smiles than some of the older students. BAE student Cloe Harper’s Battemants de Cœr demonstrated great maturity and musicality to the Schubert score.